Technical Diving - Overview
The history of technical diving started out in the late 1970s and was the result of a growing number of recreational divers who felt hampered by the conservative limits imposed on them by the mainstream diving community. Dischanted by this a small tight knit group of divers formed and are now generally recognised as the pioneers of tech diving. These men and women pushed the diving frontier to the next level of development in cave, wreck and deep diving. Deep diving techniques, modified decompression models (inc. deep stops) for the mixed gases used, the ways of dealing with potentially lethal situations at extreme depths and overcoming them. Many more became tried and tested and by the end of the 1980s tech diving had become a very exclusive form of diving. Experienced tech diving mavericks where quietly developing the techniques, methodologies and strategies for deep, confining and often outwardly hostile depths.
By the 1990s the technical divers were establishing themselves fully in the diving community, this is partly because many of the technical dive schools became established at this time and partly because they saw that a niche was there for technical divers. Technical diving is now more 'mainstream' yet has managed the balance of becoming open and available to those interested yet remaining exclusive and demanding a high standard from those wishing to become a Tech. Diver. Even now in the 21st Century it is among the Tech Divers who are exploring new methods and ways of pushing the envelope. A recent example of this was the 2003 record breaking deepest dive open circuit in open water. The diver in question used customised dive tables and planning with modified tech diving equipment. The result was a staggering 300+M (and an absolute Titan Decompression schedule!).
A defining feature in Tech diving from its recreational counterpart is that there is a considerable greater risk and danger from DCI, drowning, O2 toxicity, narcosis and general injury. Compared with Tech Diving Recreational Diving doesn't even come close to the mindset, skills and mastery of the dive. A typical recreational dive is often done with some minor planning and gear configuration and typically involves sightseeing the local marine life. A technical dive on the other hand can involve several hours of planning, intense equipment familiarity and a mission to explore an unknown sea region/wreck/cave network. Often before the actual mission (as tech dives are often referred to) work-up dives are carried out to re-familiarise tech divers who haven't dived in a while or are unused to the conditions. Tech divers can reach depths beyond that of recreational limits allowing them to dive previously untouched dive locations. To combat the risk factor involved Tech divers take a number of redundant safety features to lessen the risk involved should an emergency occur.
Terms used to describe technical diving include - Tec, tek and tech diving