Taking the Next Step in Sidemount – Advanced Sidemount
As sidemount diving picks up in the world of recreational diving, more and more sidemount divers are looking for a way to move on with advanced sidemount. Just as the open water course has its natural progression into advanced open water, so do sidemount divers need a way to challenge themselves and hone their skills. By completing an advanced sidemount course, sidemount divers now have an opportunity to dive with more tanks and pair their sidemount skills with previous technical trainings.The advantages of becoming an advanced sidemount diver include getting more familiar with donning and positioning tanks, more aware of switching between gasses, and more comfortable with staging tanks.
With recreational sidemount diving where divers are taking either one or two tanks, many divers do not stress about having the tanks perfectly parallel with the hips and upper thigh. However, with advanced sidemount the diver restructures the harness to keep tanks more streamlined in the two tank configuration. When this happens the addition of more tanks fall naturally into place slightly below the divers chest. Clipping the tanks in or even hanging them off the back D-rings takes getting use to, but during the advanced sidemount course techniques to enhance muscle memory are constantly drilled. The use of bungees to streamline your primary tanks is also a must during this training, so space for additional tanks is created.
Swimming around with four or more tanks for the whole dive is not always the most ideal situation. When possible many advanced sidemount divers choose to stage gasses which are below their MOD. Learning how to unclip the right tank and safely drop it on a line where it can be found later is another essential skill learned during the advanced sidemount training. Even without staging the tanks on a fixed line, an advanced sidemount diver masters the way to manipulate tanks on the body and move them around. By the end of a dive, an advanced sidemount diver can stow three of the four tanks and hang them off the back D-ring. In that way they are ready to be clipped off fast and given up to a boat.
There are other cool tricks to do as an advanced sidemount diver, like winging tanks in front while swimming completely upside down. Since advanced sidemount divers spend a good amount of time swimming inverted, they also learn how to clear a flooded mask when on their backs. Be ready to get a little bit of water up your nose. There are also chances to ‘gun’ a tank – completely detach it and hold it by the valve in front – and this is great for moving through some really tight spaces.
As a sidemount diver there are still many ways to improve and learn more. Taking the next step into advanced or technical sidemount will improve the comfort with sidemount and demonstrate just how flexible it is. In addition to some new skills, there are also small little tricks on how to modify equipment or create a personal rigging for a tank are things to look forward to during an advanced sidemount training. There are many advantages for advanced sidemount which broaden the ways divers can adapt it to their current level of training.
Not Sure How to Get Started?
The larger dive agencies offer advanced and or technical sidemount training. Here at Blue Label Diving we can teach you either PADI Tec Sidemount Diver or our exclusive TDI Advanced Sidemount Diver. If you are not looking for the advanced course we also offer the entry level courses of PADI Sidemount Diver, TDI Sidemount Diver and SSI Recreational Sidemount Diving. Instructor level courses are also available for those with sidemount experience. Please refer to the chart below for course prerequisites.
|Course Title||Minimum Age||Minimum Diver Rating||Minimum Number of Dives|
|PADI Sidemount Diver||15 years||PADI Open Water Diver (or equivalent)||None|
|PADI Tec Sidemount Diver||18 years||PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or equivalent)||30 logged dives|
|PADI Sidemount Speciality Instructor||18 years||Renewed PADI OWSI|
PADI Sidemount Diver (or equivalent)
|20 Sidemount Dives|
|PADI Tec Sidemount Instructor||18 years||Renewed PADI OWSI|
PADI Enriched Air Instructor
PADI Deep Diver Speciality Instructor
PADI Tec 45 Diver (or equivalent)
|100 logged dives with
20 being made with EANX
25 deeper than 18 m
15 deeper than 30 m
|TDI Sidemount Diver||18 years||SDI Open Water Scuba Diver (or equivalent)||None|
|TDI Advanced Sidemount Diver||18 years||SDI Sidemount Diver (or equivalent)||100 logged dives with
25 being made on side mount
|TDI Sidemount Instructor||18 years||SDI or TDI Instructor (or equivalent)||100 logged dives|
|TDI Advanced Sidemount Instructor||18 years||TDI Advanced Nitrox & Decompression Procedures Instructor (or equivalent)|
|SSI Recreational Sidemount Diving||18 years||SSI Open Water Diver||None|