Tec Dossier – Andrew C. Couch

Any PADI/TecRec certification:

PADI Course Director, PADI Tec Trimix IT, PADI Tec 100 CCR IT, PADI Tec Sidemount IT, PADI Tec Trimix Gas Blender IT

Usual Country of residence: Hong Kong

Andrew Couch - Twin Tanks

What is your background and current involvement in diving?

I started diving in Thailand when I was 10 years old and 23 years later am still enjoying the underwater life. I became a PADI OWSI in 2003 and rose to become a PADI Course Director in 2007. I moved to Hong Kong in 2003 and began working for Mandarin Divers of which I am now a managing partner.

How did you get into tec diving?

When I began working for Mandarin Divers, I took my PADI Tec Deep Diver Course in 2003 in the Philippines and in the same year started on the road with CCR diving. Since then I have gone on to complete numerous Trimix CCR and OC dives around Asia and have qualified as an Instructor/IT on 5 different CCR units.

Do have any specialised areas of interest?

Currently I am continuing my passion for CCR diving, especially deep dives on wrecks with a history behind them that I can really get involved in the whole story.

Andrew MKVI in Cebu

What do you think the greatest challenges are in this kind of diving?

I would say dive planning is one of the greatest challenges facing Technical Divers. This is an area where there are so many different facets and everybody has their own views and opinions on them, it is sometimes difficult for divers to understand which way is the most suitable for the dive they are conducting.

What are the most important attributes of a tec diver for the type of diving you do?

To me, a diver should have the right attitude to Tec Diving. Everything else stems from this, without the right attitude you won’t respect the environment or your teammates, you will be complacent with dive planning and equipment choices. Develop the right attitude and you can achieve a lot from Tec Diving

What are the most likely mistakes a tec diver can make in your kind of diving?

Not being honest with themselves. If they are over confident or ambitious in their own abilities then a diver might try to complete dives out of their comfort and skill ability level….this can lead to extremely big mistakes in Technical Diving.

Andrew on Poseidon MKVI

How do you prepare for a demanding technical dive?

I would think I am no different to the majority of Technical Divers, Instructors and Instructor Trainers in my preparation. I like to plan the dives the day before and ensure all components are in order and teammates are all on the same page with the dive. I check equipment is in good order and suitable for the plan…most importantly I like to get a good night’s rest to be focused in the morning.

What were your best or worst tec diving experiences?

Best Experience – Being part of a team of divers exploring a deep wreck in the Philippines. Obviously the dive and seeing the wreck itself at 110m was fantastic and enthralling and I still remember feeling as though I was in a kind of twilight zone. The best part, however, was successfully planning 100m+ dives with a group of like-minded people with everyone returning back to the surface problem free and able to share each other’s experiences in the evenings.

Worst Experience – Being 60m underwater on a CCR swimming hard against a current and feeling a small amount of water in the breathing hoses from slightly ‘loose’ lips. I remember not being able to draw enough breath to clear the water through the mushroom valve and beginning to choke. It was the first time I was truly scared underwater and the time I really realised why all the rigorous training is required for Technical Diving. Needless to say once I calmed myself and my senses returned I was able to trust my training and make the right decisions and ascend safely.

What influences your selection of dive gear?

I think long and hard about each part of my equipment. I have a minimalistic and clutter free approach, taking only what is required to conduct the dive in a good manner whilst not sacrificing safety. I want to know if the equipment is suitable for the dives I am doing as well as being durable and able to withstand a variety of different dive conditions.

MKVI in Philppines

What kind of person do you want diving in the same team as you?

Somebody who enjoys similar diving to myself and has a good passion for diving. I like to dive with someone who helps me to improve and has the right attitude towards these dives.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting into tec diving?

Do some research into your Instructor. Make sure they have or are doing the type of dives that you want to get into and they know their profession.

If I have learnt anything it is that you need your training to work for you when/if the time comes so this is not an area you want to compromise on.

Lastly, don’t rush and seek to go deep as quick as you can, experience is built over time and this type of diving is a process that needs to develop your skill and comfort levels. Do this and you will enjoy all it has to offer.


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