Advanced Open Water Diver

Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD) is a scuba diving certification level provided by several diver training agencies, such as PADI, SSI and UEF. The equivalent course provided by NAUI is the Advanced SCUBA Diver (historically, it previously had been known at NAUI as OW-II for "Open Water II"). The certification level is roughly equivalent the CMAS * Diver qualification and the BSAC Sport Diver qualification, although some differences occur. [For example, BSAC Sports Divers are trained in basic decompression diving, something that is strictly forbidden by U.S. based diving certification agencies for Recreational diving.]

The SSI Advanced Open Water program is different from most other organizations, as they require not only training but they also require diving experience. To be certified as a SSI AOWD one needs to have 4 Specialty Courses and minimum of 24 logged dives. [In the absence of a logged dives requirement, it is possible to become AOW Certified with less than ten (10) lifetime dives ]

Background

The AOWD is the second level qualification in the American international system, following the Open Water Diver qualification (OWD). At the OWD level divers gain basic knowledge of skills, equipment and theory to safely explore the underwater realm to a depth of about 18 meters. The AOWD focuses on refining these skills, allowing the diver to explore a broader variety of diving to a maximum of 30 meters deep. Prior to entering an AOWD course, some organizations have logged dives prerequisites. The course usually contains some mandatory dives and knowledge whilst a certain portion of the course consists of free elective topics such as drift diving or search and recovery.

The European International dive education system CMAS recognises only three main levels of dive education indicated by a one star, two star, or three star system. One star indicates an ability to dive, two star indicates additional skill of rescuing divers, and three star indicates the additional skill in leading a group of divers.

Topics

The course usually covers most of the following topics:

* Deep diving (Usually at a maximum depth of 30 meters)
* Drift diving
* Search and recovery (Search and recovery of objects)
* Underwater navigation
* Enriched air diving
* Multilevel diving
* Altitude diving
* Marine Biology
* Night diving
* Buoyancy Control

In many training agencies, these dives represent introductory knowledge and skills that may be further refined in a speciality course.

In the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course, the student must do two mandatory training dives relating to deep diving and underwater navigation, and then must do three further dives from a list of approximately 18 possible specialities. [Until 2006, night diving was also mandatory on the PADI course, but this is no longer the case. It was dropped at the request of the Scandinavian countries (for whom there is almost no night during the summer months when most of the diving is done), as it was created an unreasonable restriction on certifying advanced divers (which is a pre-requisite to further training) in those countries. Most other countries still "recommend" the night diver course.]

Issues

The name of this specific training level has been a topic of controversy within the diving community for many years [ [http://groups.google.com/group/rec.scuba/search?hl=en&group=rec.scuba&q=AOW+name&qt_g=Search+this+group USENET Discussions] on AOW name ] . The crux of this debate is in the interpretation of the word "Advanced" in its title, and what is its proper application or use of this adjective.

One school of thought on the matter defends the use of the word Advanced, explaining that it is describing the training accurately as being more comprehensive (eg, "more advanced") than the basic entry level training.

The opposing school of thought is that the use of the word Advanced is essentially deceptive marketing, as graduates of the class very commonly then refer to themselves as "Advanced Divers" (and/or "AOW Divers"), even though the training standard are not sufficient to raise a recreational diver (particularly the novice diver that the class is very frequently marketed to), to traditional expectations of holistic dive mastery, including the military definition [ [http://buperscd.technology.navy.mil/bup_updt/508/milpers/1220-233.htm US Navy Advanced Diver standards] from NPDC website] , which is relevant because civilian dive training and standards essentially originated from the US Navy, and the diving community continues to equate 'advanced' with 'expert'. As such, while it is agreed that the training is indeed more than basic, it is insufficient to create an "Advanced (eg, an Expert) Diver".

Another factor that relates to this controversy is that NAUI had previously not used the training title of "Advance Scuba Diver", but instead used the term "Open Water II", since they already had an existing Advanced training class (known today as "Master Diver"). NAUI reportedly changed their training name because of "customer confusion" [ [http://groups.google.com/group/bit.listserv.scuba-l/browse_frm/thread/2989a3ad5d47351/90ed9284682429b0?hl=en&lnk=st&q=NAUI+OWII+name+change#90ed9284682429b0 1995 NAUI instructor] reporting that NAUI Advanced being renamed to Master Diver ] , but that was likely a euphemism for the fact that they were losing market share to the significantly easier-to-qualify-for AOW class that was being offered and marketed by another Dive Agency.

Footnotes


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