Using the DUI weight system in open water training
The recent reduction of price in the Weight & Trim System has generated a rush by dealers to promote the product. A few dealers, affiliated with PADI, have raised the concern that the System does not meet standards because "it cannot be removed and replaced on the bottom in confined water." (PADI Open Water module 5, confined water training.)
Several years ago DUI worked with the training organizations to address this issue. PADI, and the other organizations, changed the standard. DUI was concerned that a student using a weight integrated BCD would satisfy the "remove and replace at the bottom" standard when they removed and replaced the scuba system. This meant that a student could complete the course with a weight integrated BC and never be required to "dump" the weights, using the system designed into the BCD. When using the DUI Weight & Trim System, instructors had to take an "extra" weight belt to the bottom of the confined water and have students put the belt on and take it off simply to satisfy the standard. This defeats the purpose of the training standards.
The "blue bold" standard was changed and now reads:
Confined Water Dive 5:
2. Remove, replace, adjust and secure weight belt on the bottom in water too deep to stand up in, or for students using weight-integrated BCDs or weight harness systems, in shallow water, remove weights while underwater.
The instruction portion covers the "how to" in two paragraphs that read:
5. Recommended Training Sequence:
Removal and replacement of weight system (under-water) For students using a conventional weight belt, demonstrate and have students practice removing and replacing their weight belt on the bottom in water too deep to stand in. Stress a firm grasp to avoid dropping, leaning forward to put the weight on the back, releasing the buckle by feel, pulling the belt clear of the body, donning by rolling or holding their belt in a loop and buckling by feel. Permit buddy assistance only if necessary.
For students using weight integrated BCDs or weight harness systems, demonstrate and have students practice dumping their weights in shallow water. Accomplish this by pulling the emergency quick release for the system. Demonstrate and have students practice reassembling their weight system at the surface. It's recommended that you also have students practice with a conventional weight belt. While there are various weight systems available, the conventional belt is still the most widely used, especially in rental equipment.
What this means is that the instructor has the option to satisfy this standard by having the student "dump" the weights (with either a weight integrated BC or a "harness" weight system) in shallow water (water in which the student can stand) and if this option is exercised the system has to be "restrung" or "put back together" on the "surface" meaning on the deck of the pool in most cases.
It is still recommended that the student be allowed to practice removal and replacement with a "conventional" weight belt.
If PADI instructors (or any instructor for that matter) are still not comfortable with this interpretation, Brad Smith, who is in charge of the PADI Educational Consultants, has agreed to allow us to refer your questions directly to him. Brad can be reached at PADI, 1-800-729-7234 ext.224.