Diving as a team, beyond diving in a group.

Many times we take for granted that diving with more people is the same as diving as a team.

Are we really diving as a team? are we working as a team while we dive?

Experienced divers many times say to themselves: I don’t need to dive in a team, I have enough experience to solve any kind of problem by myself. Are the other divers aware that there is one diver that is not part of the team? Is this diver qualified for diving solo and have the correct equipment or the diver is just being overconfident?

Don’t misinterpret what I’m writing, it’s not about that solo diving is bad and diving in a team is the only option. Great diving expeditions would not have been possible if the decision about diving solo had not been taken.

Diving alone has risks that require training and specific equipment and every dive in the water should be aware about who are part of the team and who are not. It’s for this reason that we need to understand what is to dive as a team.

Every member of the team must:

  • Be able to substitute in some task to another member of the team, for example navigation, use of the reel and surface marker buoy. If a diver doesn’t have the skills to execute an essential task of the dive and requires the assistance of others, then this diver is not part of the team.
  • Be available for assisting and be assisted at any moment of the dive, assistance like sharing gas or helping with some other equipment failure.
  • Be clear about how much reserve gas must have for its buddies and how much reserve gas its buddies have for sharing in order to finalize a dive without problems in the case of a member of the team lost its gas.
  • Know where are his buddies, must be able to quickly react if a buddy is in problems and must be at a prudent distance in order to assist his buddy as quick as possible.
  • Must be aware of the respiratory rhythm of his buddies in order to detect a possible stress. Is very hard to realize that we are disturbed, but is very easy to realize that another person is disturbed.

Not be part of the team doesn’t imply that interaction with other divers during the dive cannot occur or that a solo diver cannot be part of a diving group, but implies that the contingencies are not planned considering divers that are not part of the team.

It’s usual that during the descent and/or ascent the team gets broken and every member goes on its own, when the team members are on the surface, they just say “let’s meet on the bottom”. Something similar happens during the ascent, the members of the team lose visual contact with there buddies and in most cases don’t maintain the same ascent speed.

It’s also usual that there is no team work when the divers are on the surface, especially if diving from a boat, at the beginning the team only gets together before descending or just in the bottom and at the end each diver is more focused on getting out of the water than in its buddies.

Why is it so important to understand what means to really dive as a team?

Breaking the dive team is the same as being alone, means that if we have a problem there is nobody to help us and a situation that is easy to solve with a partner might scale and transform in a mayor incident. If our level of training demands diving with a buddy, then we must work as a team in every moment.

Diving in a team requires training and perseverance in the good practices, requires stop thinking just on myself and start thinking on the rest. It might be that we really are the best divers on the planet and we don’t need the help of anybody and we can solve all our problems, but maybe the problem starts with another person and one diver in problems can put everybody in problems.

Diving in a team is without doubts the safest bet, we can have redundancy of every part of our equipment, but the only way to have redundancy of our internal computer called brain is having another person by our side.

These are some types of teams:

In the next picture we can see how a team of three people works, each diver is in charge of looking after the other two divers, all communication is performed together and nobody gets unattended.

The team of three people might gets complex in order to have a good team communication, divers without much experience might not attend another team member. For example the red diver might think that the green diver is looking after the blue diver so he doesn’t need to worry about where and in what conditions it is, the green diver might be thinking the same thing as the red diver so none is putting much attention to the blue diver.

On the other hand the team of three people are ideal for attending emergencies, there is more reserve gas and the tasks to assist a diver in problems can be distributed between the other two divers.

In  the previous picture we can see a team of two people. The communication is simpler and joint tasks can be executed more easily than the case of a team of three.

It’s maybe the most common way that we found, but we need to remember that diving as a team is not just to feel accompanied by another diver, requires that we look after our buddy.

The disadvantage in relation with the team of three is that in case of a problem there is just one diver for assisting and there is less gas reserve.

With the next picture we might think that we have a team of three people, but in reality we have the red diver looking after two divers that are not ready for assisting another diver.

This scenario might be the case of a dive instructor with two students that are not certified divers. With the red diver as the instructor and the other two as the students.

Worth noting that the red diver apart from taking care of the two divers it must take care of itself, no diver must be in the water unattended, if the red diver doesn’t have a buddy then this diver must take care of itself. In other words the red diver is a solo diver.

In the previous picture we see a solo diver who doesn’t have divers under its responsibility, as mentioned before this diver has the responsibility of taking care of itself.

The red diver is a team of one person, the list of responsibilities previously mentioned for each member of a team applies for a solo diver, the difference is that applies for himself.

In the next picture we see a group with two teams.

The team of two divers conformed by the blue and green divers and the team of one person conformed by the red diver.

Different teams can operate as a group underwater, but the team responsibilities remain inside each team.