What will my Open Water course be like?

Learning to dive, to breathe underwater in an alien world, is a daunting experience at the best of times, so we thought we’d try and explain what you can expect to happen when you do your Open Water (OW) course with ScubaQuest.

Where will my training take place?
Your OW course has three main components:


(i) Theory – mainly done online and in the classrooms at the ScubaQuest Dive Centre at National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC) and/or a combination of online learning modules and video sessions.

(ii) Confined Water training – you will start your scuba diving career in the 3m deep pool at Thornbury Leisure Centre. Here you will practise the core skills that are required of an OW diver, such as clearing your mask of water that might have leaked in, or controlling your buoyancy.

(iii) Open Water training – once you’ve practised your skills in the pool, we move on to the final stage of the start of your diving journey, with four “open water” dives at NDAC. This will be five dives if you’re doing our OW+Drysuit together as a bundled course.
These will be spread over two days, so it will be a busy but rewarding weekend!

If you are learning to dive with ScubaQuest, you will benefit from our on-site Dive Centre at NDAC. This is a comfortable space in which you can relax before and after your dives, with two multi-media classrooms in which we will talk you through the plan for the day, debrief you after your dives, and chat about what went well and areas for improvement. You will be the envy of all the other students learning to dive with other schools as our facilities cannot be matched.

ScubaQuest Reception area
ScubaQuest Training Room
Inside ScubaQuest

What do I do in my open water training?

We generally start at 08.00 – yes, it’s an early start, but there’s a lot to do and we don’t want to be rushing anything! You’ll get a thorough briefing on the plan for the day, and an opportunity to ask questions right from the start.

We realise that you might be nervous, anxious, excited, eager to get in the water etc., so our instructors will be there to talk you through what to expect from the day, and reassure you if you have any concerns.

Scuba divers preparing to descend

Many people have what they think are “stupid questions” about diving – don’t worry, we’ve heard them all before, so you can rest assured that we won’t be surprised by anything you say or ask! We want you to be confident in the care and attention that you will receive from the whole dive team who will be looking after you for the day.

How long does all this take?

You will need two full weekends to complete your OW course. The first weekend will be the theory and closed water pool sessions, followed by two days of open water diving at NDAC. You will be thoroughly briefed before each dive and debriefed afterwards. Your instructor will go over what you did well, what needs working on, and offer advice on how to improve your diving.

Who else will be with me when I’m diving?

Each of our OW courses will have a minimum of an experienced instructor and in-water safety divemaster, assisted by a surface support team member. So there is no need to worry you will never be left on your own.

Between them, they will take very good care of you throughout your course, and will be on hand with tips, guidance and some funny stories about stupid things they’ve done underwater over the years, so you can be reassured that you’re not expected to be the perfect diver by the end of the OW course! Think of it just like learning to drive. Experience will come with time in the water after you have passed the course.

Tracy and Julia

What next? What can I do after my Open Water course?

This will hopefully just be the start of your diving journey, and there are many follow-up courses, typically Advanced Open Water (AOW) being the next step most OW divers take. There will be opportunities for you to develop your skills and gain more experience, as well as broadening your skill set through learning new specialities. To repeat – time spent in the water is the key!

If you do take the Advanced Open Water course you will further develop your existing skills and learn some new ones – AOW gives you some further insights into things like buoyancy, trim and team work. Many people take AOW as it introduces you to the possibility of deeper diving. After your AOW, you’ll be certified to 30m, rather than the 18m that OW permits. AOW involves additional theory plus 4 more open water dives, all at NDAC.

What is NDAC like?

NDAC is located just outside Chepstow, near Tidenham. It’s a former limestone quarry that has been converted into a multi-sports activity centre, complete with accommodation, a café, shop and changing facilities.

After being welcomed at the ScubaQuest Dive Centre and having received an initial briefing, you’ll normally need to sign in and pay your entrance fee at the NDAC shop.

The current COVID -19 operational requirements mean that you will need to book on the NDAC website. This allows the NDAC team to keep track of who is on-site. It is likely that this process will continue beyond the current restrictions as it makes the whole booking process more time efficient on the day. You can find more details about NDAC by visiting their website.

What if I don’t get things quite right when I’m diving?

There is nothing to worry about, we’re all human, and we don’t always get things right first time – the key in diving is making sure you understand when things have not gone according to plan, the impact on the safety of your diving and what you need to do to prevent the same thing happening again.

Careful pre-dive buddy checks will ensure that all your equipment is working, and your instructor will double-check just to make sure.

With ScubaQuest, you will be in the hands of a team of professional instructors and divemasters who will never compromise your safety or the safety of others. We will be there to help you check your equipment on the surface, assist with your pre-dive buddy checks, and we’ll be on hand and close by throughout your dives.

We know that starting off in diving can be overwhelming, and at times it seems like there are lots of things to remember and concentrate on, but you will be in safe hands and we’ll be right there with you during your first experiences underwater.

Interested in learning to dive? Contact us now! You can book a Try Dive or Open Water course.

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