– Extreme Scuba Makeover (ESM) is one of the most
basic classes in the UTD curriculum. It is also the one I find the most satisfying to teach as a UTD instructor. It is amazing how much impact that we
as instructors can have on a student’s diving in just a single classroom and
pool session. It is particularly satisfying for me to work with experienced
divers, doing simple exercises, and watch as they get a brand new perspective on their diving in just a few short hours.
UTD Instructor Peter Vanags.
Using the UTD “building blocks” approach, we take already certified
scuba divers back to the basics: just a swimsuit and their breath in a swimming pool. From there, the “aha” moments come early and often. After
the first few minutes, students have discovered how their bodies trim out,
and are controlling their buoyancy inch by inch up and down the side
of the pool. Then they move on to advanced techniques like breath control weight lifting. They come to realize that they can have as much as 6
pounds (3 kilos) of buoyancy control using just their lungs. Then we put
fins on, and they learn just how precisely they can move around in a tight
space with frog kicks and helicopter turns. In due time, the mysteries of
the back kick are revealed. Nobody is perfect at first, but for many, it’s the
first time they’ve ever moved backwards under water without flailing their
hands around in front of them.
By the time we are done with just the swimsuit portion of the pool session,
experienced divers are bursting with new insights about scuba diving. As
we don wetsuits for the next part of the session, students are excitedly
having “Why didn’t I learn that before?” discussions. These are especially
satisfying conversations to have with experienced divers, who are grateful
to be filling in the gaps in their previous training.