Tek Chicks

Article by Ayesha Cantrell, TecRec Instructor, of Thailand Technical Diving

Ayesha

Female technical divers certainly seem to be in the minority and I always seem to be stuck on a boat with guys comparing hose length and discussing penetration. Imagine how happy I was to teach my first female student and have an all girls tech team. That prompted me to try and understand why there are considerably less of us and maybe break down some of the barriers.

By training as a technical diver you are agreeing to accept the increased risks that come from exceeding the no decompression limit. Females are naturally more cautious which I believe is part of what inhibits their participation yet ironically caution is a strong trait in any good technical diver.

You might also be concerned about all the gear, its weight and your physical strength. There is a lot of gear and yes it’s heavier than your recreational kit but I’m all of 5 foot and I manage. I’m certainly not skipping around the deck Do I really need all this stuff?but I can giant stride off with 4 tanks. Once you’re in the water the kit becomes more manageable – the same as your recreational kit does. And here’s the inside scoop…yes there’s more of it but it’s no more technical than your recreational kit. If you understand how that works then you’ll understand this. Your kit, simply put, is doubled. You take 2 of everything, just to be sure, rather like a handbag really!

The pre-requisites of technical training mean that you are already quite an experienced diver and unless you are a dive professional tec training will be the most intensive course you have taken since your rescue course. This in itself could leave any diver a little intimidated but at this level it’s likely that you have been conducting your own dives for a while and have a good understanding of dive theory too. We teach you the rest …remember…if we were fish then we wouldn’t need to take a course, so don’t be frightened about learning something new!

Technical diving deepens your understanding of dive theory and really sharpens your techniques underwater. Courses are actually split too so that you don’t have to commit to the full thing. A basic technical course will broaden your skills and knowledge as well as giving you the opportunity to decide if you want to continue to full decompression diving.

tec chicksIt doesn’t actually seem that long ago that ladies were in the minority on recreational boats and I hope the numbers of tec chicks will increase too. But please don’t make me wait too long as I really need to have a serious conversation about crotch straps.

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3 replies »

  1. KEWL STORY! So nice to hear from fellow chicks wearing crotch straps.

    As a passionate technical scuba diver and managing director of puruma business communications, I draw on my experiences testing personal limits underwater to argue that the sport has much to teach organisations and women about taking calculated risks and thriving in the modern connected economy.

    Technical divers test the limits. We are the explorers that dive beyond the accepted limits of normal or ‘recreational’ diving. We use an unusual combination of equipment and skills to do so and frequently find ourselves in underwater environments that are more dangerous, but equally, more rewarding than those swum by recreational divers.

    Technical diving is challenging so is business. Diving to depths or for that long requires mastering the use of precise gas mixtures other than air. It requires undergoing prolonged, staged decompression (periods of disciplined waiting underwater) and the use of sophisticated technology, not too different from the business environment where mastering the use of technology and juggling different demands is key.

    Customer redundancy
    In recreational diving circles, the importance of the ‘buddy system’ is well known and accepted ─ that it’s best to dive in pairs so that, should one of you encounter difficulties while submerged, the other can help out ─ but self-sufficiency through equipment redundancy is crucial in technical diving.

    Things can and do go wrong and the nature of the dives being undertaken is such that, in the event of mishap or accident, you need to be able to reach the surface without assistance from another diver.

    There are easy parallels between this and the modern business environment, where ‘customer redundancy’ is similarly important. Relying on a single customer to keep a business afloat is dangerous and many a company has ‘died’ with the movement of the dominant customer.

    While using the ‘buddy system’ whenever possible ─ forming mutually beneficial partnerships with complimentary organisations ─ is a great business approach, technical diving cautions us to also make sure we are able to rescue ourselves in the event of something going wrong.

    To successfully ─ and safely ─ dive in potentially disorientating surroundings requires a clear understanding of diving and decompression physiology, a detailed knowledge of dive equipment and a sound awareness of the overall diving environment.

    This is akin to the good understanding of your business environment, detailed knowledge of your competitors and the tools/resources available to you, together with a clear understanding of the psycho-demographics of your customers that are required to succeed in business.

    Common traits
    Consequently, many of the traits displayed by technical divers ─ high levels of motivation, focus and dedication ─ are similar to those commonly exhibited by successful businesspeople.

    The equipment, training and gas costs associated with technical diving are not insignificant. As a result, technical divers tend to be older individuals ─ those who have reached a point in their career where this type of diving is affordable ─ and the more experienced divers who have become really comfortable in the water; a reality that almost identically mirrors the situation and importance of experience among successful leaders in the business world.

    Business ─ an extreme adventure sport
    Many people delight in adventurous and frequently dangerous past-times and all of us accept risks on a daily basis. In fact, it’s fairly obvious that ─ without risk ─ there is no growth or improvement and certainly very little adventure.

    It’s also easy to argue that unless an organisation takes risks ─ some necessary and all, hopefully, informed ─ it faces the biggest ‘risk’ of all: stagnation. Taking researched and carefully calculated risks is imperative for the continued growth and success of any organisation, but ─ just as it is in technical diving ─ to do so safely requires a significant investment in time, equipment (resources) and skills development.

    Like technical divers constantly monitoring depth, gauging air consumption and keep their run times accurate, organisations in the connected economy need to be aware of and orchestrate a dynamically changing combination of influences. Learning to formulate and run multi-channel marketing programs has become a business marketing imperative and, while sustained focus is still needed, it is no longer on a single activity, but a host of interconnected activities.

    The biggest difference between technical diving and business is that you cannot forget a single basic whilst under the water, but sadly the business basics are very often ignored or forgotten.

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