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Are You a Master?: Swish becomes a PADI Master Instructor, TEC style.

General, Active Lifestyleswishreboot@solomongiles.com4 Comments

So I had conquered my instructors exam and was now a PADI Scuba Instructor, so what next? Well now it was time  to fine tune my training and pick my specialities in the Master Scuba Diver Trainer program. The MSDT allows an instructor to chose from a wide array of specialities, each with different skills requirements, that they would like to be able to certify people in.  I was lucky enough that there were only two people on my MSDT, both of us technical divers. My MSDT was also run by the head of Ban's Technical Diving (and one of my oldest friend's) Craig Werger. So what better way to take the MSDT but in full technical equipment?

I chose to become a speciality instructor for wreck, deep, search and recovery, navigation, peak performance buoyancy, underwater digital photography, night, nitrox, and cavern instructor.

Swishing back into Tec

Craig decided to make the challenge especially tough for us and insisted that we be able to do the skills associated with each speciality while in perfect trim and hovering. Hehe. Sneaky challenge but so much fun, and a good test of your skills as a diver.

At the same time that my MSDT was happening the island decided to sink the HTMS Sattakut, a 30 m Thai naval vessel. The ship went down on her starboard side with a bottom depth of 33 meters with the  port side at 28 meters. Since her sinking they have righted the vessel and it now looks as depicted in the video below.


The HTMS Sattukut provided an excellant place to learn the deep and the wreck specialties, which we accomplished the first day.

After that we moved on to the others. Navigation was a fun endeavor as the Bans Tec crew had me do a 20 kick cycle hexagon.

The MSDT was a great experience and a chance to hone my skills as a diver while marrying them with my newly acquired skills as an instructor. Many thanks to Craig Werger and Tim Hunt of Ban's Tec for their patience and expertise over the week. I hope that while teaching my next wreck speciality I do them proud.


PADI Instructor Exams

General, Active Lifestyleswishreboot@solomongiles.com3 Comments

Hello everyone and sorry for the little pause in the blog. I have been a bit busy. . . ummm. . . teaching scuba diving and surfing. . . I know, I know, a swish life blogger leads a hard life. But never fret dear swish reader, you know I will always come back to you! I recently took my examinations to become a PADI scuba diving instructor and passed! I actually had a lot of fun during my exams. Ban's Instructor Development had thoroughly prepared us so when the time came to actually take the exams we could just chill, take a big breath, and show what we learned!

For the short version of this blog, check out our video here:


The first day we all meet up at Ban's in order to drive together to the exams.  We formed quite an intense bike gang across the island, which was a bit humorous as we saw all the other schools driving together on the way as well.


The first thing that we did was our theory exams.  There are five categories: physics, physiology, dive knowledge and the environment, recreational dive planning, equipment, and standards.  We all passed our exams with flying colors and then went back to Ban's to prepare for the next day.

Day two of the exams started with academic presentations in order to demonstrate that we could effectively teach theory.

After our presentations we went to prepare for our open water exams which are the ones that generally incite the most fear in people.  Each candidate is given two skills that a student would have to perform to pass a course. The instructor then goes through the skills with their "students" (other candidates) while the examiner assigns the "students" problems. The instructor must identify and correct the problems underwater as well as in the debriefing. There is no make up for this section so some people where a bit anxious.

It was a beautiful day out on the water and the whole entire Ban's and Sunshine crew passed with great scores! I think that our IDC staff was more nervous waiting on the boat than we were!

The third day involves confined water presentations and skill circuits. The confined water presentations are similar to the open water presentations, except that you have to be a bit more hands on and you have to demonstrate the skill first. Skill circuit is a round of skills that the candidate has to demonstrate in order to prove competency in the water. We were all a bit more relaxed this day and had a lot of good giggles while waiting.

Again the whole entire team passed with exceptional marks! After wards we had a lovely ceremony where we received our instructor certificates.

The ceremony was quickly followed by our IE party, where our lovely staff instructors who had taught us, supported us, and been excellent role models for the future instructors we would be. . . promptly got us tipsy. All of Ban's came out and we had a great time. Many thanks to Fishbowl Beach Bar for hosting us and throwing a lovely evening.

Becoming an instructor was a great time in my life. It is strange but not at all intimidating to think that I will now be teaching new divers.  It has been quite nice to introduce people to a new environment and has actually reignited some of my joy for recreational diving. It is as a good friend and mentor once told me, "Take your time, enjoy it, and inspire minds. Who knows, you might be teaching the next cave extraordinaire, top marine biologist, documentary film-maker, or eco-wetsuit line owner." And that my dear swish reader, makes it worth every moment.

*I would like to take a moment to thank the staff at Ban's Instructor Development: Platinum course director Tim Hunt, Staff Instructors Lance & Laura Hiesinger, Azza Butler, & Craig Werger


Swish Staff Instructor Gives Project AWARE Lecture

Eco Tips and Environmentswishreboot@solomongiles.comComment

Hello everyone! Just a quick announcement: Laura Riding, Swish Team member, will be giving a presentation on Marine Conservation on July 13th at 6:30 pm at Ban's Diving Resort in Koh Tao, Thailand.

Laura is a Marine Biologist, a PADI Staff Instructor, and a Project Aware Specialty Instructor, so this lady knows her stuff! Come listen to her talk about all the good that Project Aware does. For DM's and Instructors this is a great way to learn more about the environment and Project Aware so that you can better incorporate information into your lectures and briefings to educate future divers! For fun divers this is a great way to start getting involved and to learn more about the beautiful environment you are playing in.

Check out the event here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=100458300051682&view=wall&notif_t=event_wall

Project AWARE was started by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) to educate divers about ocean conservation and emerging issues. Today Project AWARE also concentrates it's efforts on shark conservation and reef cleanup.


For more information on Project AWARE or to get involved please visit: www.projectware.org

Even if you are not on Koh Tao and so cannot make the lecture I encourage everyone to follow Laura's example and start conservation lectures and discussions at your dive/surf/kiteboarding school. Remember, we love where we play and as such we want to preserve it's beauty and intrinsic value.


Swish Blogger Victoria Recieves Assistant Instructor with Ban's Career Development

Generalswishreboot@solomongiles.com1 Comment

Hey guys! So I just became an Assistant Instructor today with Ban's Career Development Center (5 Star PADI because they are pretty much awesome).   I am taking the whole Instructor Development Course as well as the MSDT and my internship here at Ban's.  The course has been some "serious fun" so far (see already learning the PADI language).


We have a great group from around the globe, but we are predominantly female this IDC! We are staffed by a large group including Tim Hunt (PADI Platinum Course Director), Marcel Van Den Berg, Lance Hiesinger, Laura Riding, Arron Butler, and Craig Werger from Ban's Tec.

The Assistant Instructors course involves several exams about PADI standards and theory from your divemaster days (physics, physiology, skills, equipment, and recreational dive planning). However the most interesting thing to me has been learning how to teach.  You learn how to present skills to students who have never seen them before, first in  a confined session, then on an open water dive!

It has been so much fun here at Ban's on the course so far and I think that it is because of this (and their dedication) that I pulled down some excellent scores during the Assistant Instructors course with the lowest being a 4.5 (out of 5) and mostly 5's! Whoot. Swish is rocking the IDC and having the best time doing it.  Thank you to the staff and the lovely candidates for making this a great experience.

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Advanced Open Water in Koh Tao, Swish Style

Active Lifestyleswishreboot@solomongiles.com4 Comments

So the island and I were extraordinarily blessed this week as a sweet swishy gale force wind rocked up! My friend Allie came down from Bangkok to do her Advanced Open Water course at Ban's Diving Resort.

The advanced course consists of 5 adventure dives. Allie chose to do a navigation dive, a photography dive, a deep dive, a night dive, and a fish identification dive.  I was lucky enough to be the divemaster on her night dive! (I am in the middle of my Instructor Development Course so I cold not assist the whole thing) We set out from Ban's as the sun was setting and did out debriefing on the top of the Ban's boat whilst admiring the sunset. We then descended, put on our Swish Suits, checked our kit, and it was time to go introduce Allie to the darkness so she could feel Swish stealth.

The night is can be a bit frightening for students at first as it can be their first time with limited visibility; however most of them come up happy and excited.  The only way Allie was different is that she went down excited too! She was incredibly calm and competent on her dive while still having some serious fun. I was very impressed and you could really see her training!