Other than taking a lot less time, diver training has not changed significantly in the nearly four decades that I’ve been doing it. And, as a consequence, beginning divers are not much better today than they were in the 1970s. In many respects, they’re worse.
Most dive instructors (and their training agencies) will tell you it’s unrealistic to expect beginning divers to master much in the way of buoyancy control. That, in order to achieve even a modest degree of control over buoyancy, students really need to enroll in a Buoyancy Control Specialty Diver course immediately upon certification. We’re here to tell you that’s bullshit.
For the record, I have nothing against snorkels. Hell, I even use one…every single time I go snorkeling. I also make sure that, when diving in the ocean — or any body of water sufficiently large that I might find myself stuck on the surface some distance from the boat or shore — I have my trusty folding snorkel with me. At the very bottom of my thigh pocket. Below the safety tube, signal mirror, pocket mask and whistle (items I’m more likely to actually need under these circumstances). But to stick one on my mask? While scuba diving? Do I really look that stupid?
A recent Facebook group discussion on an entirely different topic eventually devolved into What should a training agency’s Instructor Crossover process consist of? It’s an important question, especially considering that, depending on the agency, the process can vary considerably.