Me and technical diving are just at the beginning of a potential relationship. We’ve flirted and been on a couple of dates, and we’ve enjoyed each other’s company but it’s early days and I suspect I have yet to see it’s darker, moodier side.
In the meantime, recreational diving has reeled me in and keeps me captivated. I only started diving in September 2020, but it was love at first dip and I clamoured to get in the water at every opportunity. I am now only one dive away from my 100th dive, and yes, I know the 100th dive tradition but there will be no nudity – the water is sub 10 degrees right now and I’m just not going there.
Having only been qualified for 18 months, it’s hard not to think of myself as a baby diver – certainly my approach is to listen and soak up as much as I can. As my diving Adults are technical instructors and cave divers, I work hard to understand the reasoning behind everything that I am learning. When I can grasp some of the concepts behind why technical divers dive in the way that they do, I try to adapt the same practice in my own diving because it makes sense to me – and under the water it gives my overactive (and often paranoid) brain something tangible to focus on.
Taking on the technical aspects of diving without ACTUALLY doing proper grown up tech diving, manifests itself in many ways. From watching Youtube videos of DSMB drills until I have to prop my eyelids open with matchsticks, to squealing with glee over the silky smooth action of a lovely new bolt snap – ooh I do love shiny things. I even rehearse my pre and post-dive set-up every time I tweak my kit. Obsessive? Perhaps, but for me it’s all about removing the pain points and driving home the all important c-word – Control. Life is chaotic enough, I don’t need to bring it underwater with me too.
I was happy in my Argonaut drysuit, happy in my Halcyon single cylinder BPW, and happy with my Shearwater Peregrine. And then my life changed. I met Derek.
Derek the Teric (yes of course, I named it – I have dive cylinders called Thing One, Thing Two, Hank the Tank, and The Tank with No Name – go figure) arrived and so did his mate, the Swift AI Transmitter. I was excited but anxious. I knew where I was with the Peregrine – introducing a new dive computer AND transmitter would mean changes to my set-up, to my pre-dive routine, and potentially to the way I dive – all things that I was trying to hold tightly in control.
For the first time EVER, I read the manual. The whole thing. Actually, that’s not quite true – the Teric is a computer for your entire journey as a diver, so there were all sorts of programs and settings for freediving, tech diving, deco and trimix to name just a few. Whilst looking at the settings in fascination, they are forbidden fruit to me right now and I was grateful not to have to descend into the rabbit hole of partial pressures and diluents.
As I worked my way through the set-up, my excitement grew – in the same way that my Argonaut drysuit was made to measure, the Teric is a computer that could become unique to ME. I could choose which information to show on the main screen, select where and how big and even which colour I want each detail to be. Create shortcuts and set my own alarms. In short, I don’t have to adjust my diving to the Teric, the Teric will adjust to me.
I turned my attention to the Swift AI Transmitter. Getting the Swift and the Teric to talk to each other was easy, and done in a matter of minutes. Then I wondered about which port to connect it to on the cylinder. Friends, I went on a forum. A word of advice here – use caution when going on a forum! I did it, and I made it out alive, but barely with my wits about me. My head became filled with transmitters on the cylinder, using a split port, using a short HP hose, and the biggie… should you remove the pressure gauge completely?… F.O.G.I.T (Fear Of Getting It Wrong) was real. I looked at what Shearwater advised, I asked my Grown Ups (and got different answers each time). In the end, I did what the Teric had enabled me to do – choose what suited me best and become confident in my own choices for my own diving.
My first dive with the Teric and the Swift was a game changer. I could see all the information I wanted to, and scrolled through the different screens with ease, but the biggest impact was being able to see the cylinder pressure at a glance – my eyesight was just reaching the stage where I would have to squint at my gauge, and with the foresight that made me happy. I had set the bar reading on the Teric to big font right in the middle of the home screen. My joy knew no bounds!
There is so much more that I can do with the Teric and the Swift, I have barely scraped the surface and we have years of exploring ahead. Already, I am fascinated by SAC rate in real time, and learning about TTS (Time to Surface) and GTR (Gas Time Remaining) calculations. I have just completed my RAID Sidemount course and I can see the enormous benefit to me in having the pressures of both cylinders in front of me on the home screen. For ease, for the eyesight, and for that feeling of being in control that gives me so much security beneath the surface.
Diving with the Teric and the Swift as a rec diver is a win/win – it helps me grow as a diver and it means that if technical diving and I do decide to take our relationship to the next level, I’ll be ready.
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