The Hazy Line Between Recreational and Technical

Has anyone else noticed that the 'Technical' goal posts keep moving as us mere mortal recreational divers are allowed to play with more and more advanced equipment, techniques and gases. It wasn't that long ago that Nitrox was considered to be a Technical gas after all. There are lots of ideas and opinions as to what technical diving is and what it covers. Even training agencies seem to change their stance on what is and isn't technical diving on a regular basis. Of course that's assuming that they agree on what a recreational diver can do in the first place. As an example PADI defines technical diving as: “Technical scuba diving is defined as diving other than conventional commercial or research diving that takes divers beyond recreational scuba diving limits. It is further defined as and includes one or more of the following:
  • Diving beyond 40 metres/130 feet deep
  • Required stage decompression
  • Diving in an overhead environment beyond 40 linear metres/130 linear feet of the surface
  • Accelerated decompression and or the use of variable gas mixtures during the dive”
  Perhaps the one of the most defining limitation was that recreational divers could only dive as a buddy pair. Even this has been relaxed by PADI with the introduction of the new Self Sufficient Diver speciality course covering the use of redundant systems and solo diving mentality. Rebreathers are another example, the development of recreational rebreathers opens up these technical pieces of equipment to the every day diver to extend their diving to pre-defined maximum depths. I am sure that a fair percentage of recreational divers practice would could be deemed as technical diving on the vast majority of their dives, just running beyond the no-decompression limit of the dive puts the diver outside the remit of recreational diving. In my mind there are three things that still restrict the recreational diver; depth, gases and penetration into overhead environments (I'm not talking about poking your head into a cargo hold or swimming through a purposely sunk wreck, I mean proper cave diving or similar). Depth and gases go hand in hand with the use of advanced gas mixes and switching opening the depths to the technical diver with the appropriate training. Overhead penetration requires a particular mentality and experience which needs to be built upon and practiced using the right kit, without all of that its just foolish in my eyes. What I look forward to the most is the development of technology that forces training companies such as PADI to revise their definitions, allowing recreational divers to extend their diving to new safe limits. If nothing else it helps to keep our sport fresh and exciting, giving divers new opportunities that may have been outside of their reach before. In all seriousness, with the rate of technological advancements how long will it be before we can all travel to down to Mariana trench for a day out.

1 comment

  • ive always classed technical diving very simply as any dive in excess of 40 metres, im deep diver trained but i would not even begin to think about going deeper unless i had checked out as a fully trained tech diver , its just too damned dangerous . know your limits and dive well within them , any other action is just asking for an early death .

    dave armstrong

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