Getting Technical in Swiss Lakes

Article by Garry Stuber, TecRec Trimix Instructor

When one thinks of Switzerland the first things coming to mind is high mountains, great skiing, chocolate and of course cheese. My name is Garry Stuber and I am a DSAT Trimix Instructor who happens to be an American. When my wife and I moved to Switzerland, I kept asking myself  ‘what am I going to do about diving’? One day driving around a mountain lake looking for a place to dive, what did I see —  ‘Tec Divers’! That’s where it all started. Meeting Richard Studer and his tec diving group introduced me to the Swiss tec diving scene.

Moving to Winterthur, I met Stephan and Rosmarie Wittmer, owners of Cernia Sub Dive Center of 37 years. Their large PADI 5-star dive school/shop tantalizes you with its impressive ‘I got-it all’ inventory. Upon entering the shop they await you with all their knowledge and experience. I asked him about having a technical program. He did not at the time. Over the next year he found out that I was serious about bringing the PADI/DSAT program to his dive school.

As I was not yet a full DSAT instructor, I contacted the PADI Europe office for support. They referred me to Steffen Seiler, a PADI/DSAT instructor trainer living in Germany. I was the first American ever been trained by him. The fact that I speak only English did not slow him or our training down in the least bit. During training I received information about the new program. The more I learned about the about the new program, the more I knew I had to put on some kind of forum and get the information to the Swiss divers. Pascal Dietrich, the PADI/DSAT technical consultant for Europe, was very helpful source in getting more info on the new program.

The first ever Swiss TecRec forum was held on the 11th of November 09 at Cernia Sub Dive Center in Winterthur, Switzerland. We started the forum off with a presentation put together by me, covering subjects like “What is and who becomes a tec diver?” We introduced the new program, talked about each level, the necessary prerequisites and the limits each level puts on the diver. We also gave examples of what a Tec diver could do with each level.

Decompression dives are everyday business, so why take a class if you already do the dives? What the divers do not realize is that in case of an accident during a decompression dive without proper certification, the insurance will NOT cover you. You are out of luck.

PADI/DSAT wants to change the way people learn technical diving. Smaller steps and more training will help to educate divers and make them safer and more aware of there diving style. I have always said to my students over the years, a good diver is always learning.

A highlight of the forum was the technical gear presentation. For Tec 40 we configured modified recreational gear i.e. single tank w/ backplate and harness and double tanks with BCD to show the diver there are gear options. For the Tec 45/50 we showed full tec configuration meaning backplate and harness with double tanks.

Switzerland with its deep and dark mountain lakes with dramatic walls of more than 150 meters is predestined for great trimix diving. Naturally, part of the presentation was about the trimix courses. Tec Trimix with all its gadgets (i.e. computer and deco software) is yet another diver’s challenge. The gear presentation for the trimix included 3 different scooters, different size stage/deco tanks and different size twin tank setups.

A main value of this tec forum was to have dive professionals explain different gear configuration used for different certification levels in a hands-on-approach. The distinctive specialties like sidemount, cave diving and the soon to be CCR was also covered in the forum. Cave diving is up and coming here in Switzerland and Germany with its mountain caves and flooded mines that are being explored by a few of the cave divers. We had 38 people joining us for this memorable first ever Swiss tec forum. We all had a great time telling many stories of past dives and dives still to come.

I want to thank Cernia Sub Dive School for hosting the forum. Richard Studer, Steffen Seiler and all the staff of PADI Europe that attended and helped answer questions. We are already talking about the next event soon to be announced.

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