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The Who’s Who of Sidemount



Jeff Loflin

Jeff Loflin was one of the first international ambassadors for sidemount diving and was instrumental in helping to bring sidemount diving to the open water tech and recreational communities. With nearly 40 years of teaching experience, the veteran educator is a trimix, cave and wreck diving instructor trainer for PADI, IANTD, TDI, and the NSS-CDS, where Jeff has served as chairman, treasurer and a director, and remains active training divers and instructors. A former commercial diver, Jeff is also a Public Safety Diver (PSD) and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) instructor trainer, and serves as a PADI Instructor Examiner. Based in Bonifay, Florida, he serves as the Diving Safety officer for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Interview by Michael Menduno

What is sidemount to you?

I think sidemount diving is another way to enjoy the underwater world. It enables you to put your tanks, of course, conveniently on your side, and it gives you a safety zone because you’re able to see your regulators on both sides. Sidemount diving  also gives you redundant air, and it  allows you to see all my hoses and leak points and avoid being concerned that you’ll run out of gas. And, it’s a lot of fun because it’s a different way to dive and a way to learn new techniques while diving.  

You were a PADI course director, and then got started in tech diving when PADI came out with their program in 2001.

That’s correct. I became a PADI instructor in 1983, and a course director in 1988. Then PADI started their Tec program in 2001, and I embraced it. I became a tech diver and then a tech instructor with PADI and IANTD. I also got cave certified with the National Speleological Society-Cave Diving Section (NSS-CDS). I wanted to do more in the cave diving world and become an instructor.

Ha! You went all in. I can relate. I remember, back in the day we used to say, if you want to become a tech diver you should take a cave diving course! So, how and when did you discover sidemount?

It was 2004. I was diving with Bill Rennaker, and I decided to take the sidemount certification course with him. At the time, I had been working with Edd Sorenson of Cave Adventurers who was already diving sidemount and mentoring me. I was also starting to teach overhead diving.

The standards in the overhead diving community were such that to teach a cavern, intro to cave, or full cave, you had to do it in a backmount gear configuration. Sidemount was a specialty area: you had to be certified as a full cave diver, and have X number of dives in sidemount; then you would take a specialty program for sidemount. As I mentioned, I was teaching for Cave Adventurers in backmount and Edd, who was already diving sidemount.

I ended up having a skydiving accident in 2005 that caused me some major damage to my right ankle. I was in some rehab from 2005 up into 2006, and my doctor warned me about putting a lot of weight on my ankle walking with doubles.

OUCH! No doubles?!? That could put a dent in your tech career. What did you do?

After recovering from my accident, I organized a family dive trip to Bonaire. At the time, my daughter had just completed Marine Corps boot camp, and we were on vacation with friends to celebrate her graduation. Edd and his partner Stacey joined us. Edd was diving sidemount in the open water, and it struck me how easy it was, just like in cave world, and I thought, this is a great idea!

When I came back from that trip in 2006, I started working with some folks around here involved in sidemount. Edd was one, Lamar Hires was another and there were three or four others. I wanted to adapt what we  were using in the overhead world and bring it out into the open water world. 

Especially for me with my ankle, being able to drop single tanks at the water’s edge and wear them on my side made a huge difference.

So, in 2008, I submitted and got approval for a PADI distinctive specialty in both sidemount diving, as well as distinctive specialty in sidemount instructor.  

A distinctive specialty means that you can teach it to your students, but it’s not a PADI course available to everyone. Is that right? How about the distinctive instructor specialty, what was that?

That’s correct. The distinctive specialty isn’t a standalone course with PADI or other diving agencies; it’s something that you author. PADI reviews the course for educational content and for safety purposes. Then, if it meets their criteria, it is approved.

The distinctive instructor specialty enabled me to teach the PADI Tec program in sidemount, which historically was conducted in back mounted doubles. I demonstrated that it worked well and there were no issues. Then, in the second quarter of 2009 training bulletin, PADI announced that  you could teach their Tec program in sidemount if you were a sidemount instructor. Two quarters later, they released an update enabling sidemount instructors to teach the PADI cavern program in sidemount.

Did you get push back in the community for bringing the program to recreational divers?

There was a group that believed that sidemount only belonged in caves, specifically the ones with small restrictions and or sumps where you typically can’t use back mounted doubles. From others, the opinion I got was definitely positive. Many were excited that something new and innovative was about to be available. Something that had been exclusively in the cave diving world, and really wasn’t that difficult.  My experience has been that my students’ responses were very positive.  I liked to say that we were taking sidemount from the dark and bringing it into the light. 

I get it for tech of course. But why would recreational divers want to go sidemount?

According to a survey we did, the number one reason people go sidemount is for safety and security. The thing that recreational scuba divers are most afraid of is running out of gas. That’s why Spare Air became so popular! Having two tanks is a big safety factor. Also, there is no “detective work” involved. You can see your regulators and gauges—we teach divers how to feather their valves for example, if a hose breaks for example. And of course, there are divers with physical challenges, like me. Finally, it’s viewed as a stepping stone to tech.  

That makes good sense! I would have found it appealing in my recreational days. And my back, well that’s another story. You know, Edd told me he was stoked when you created the specialty. He said, “PADI is the biggest dive organization in the world and if they adopt this, sidemount is going to spread worldwide!”

I should note that at that time I heard that there were several other instructors who had authored their own sidemount specialty outlines. So, we had a distinctive specialty at that point, and I started looking for manufacturers to help. What we needed was gear that would be suitable for the recreational world and tech. One of the issues was having a dual bladder BCD.

In order to have a redundant buoyancy source for wetsuit divers?

Exactly. That was a requirement in the PADI Tec programs. So, I reached out to the manufacturers that were looking into that, one was OxyCheq,  another was OMS, and of course Dive Rite. We were interested in creating a sidemount configuration for open water diving, and much of it would likely be done in wetsuits. 
In 2008, I went to DEMA, and again, I was looking for manufacturers to work with the sidemount system. I met with Nick Hollis and talked to him about sidemount. He said they would consider it. Meanwhile I was actively involved in teaching my distinctive sidemount specialty and teaching Tec classes.

Then in 2009, I met with the Hollis family again at DEMA in Orlando,  and Bob Hollis invited me to address both his staff and distributor for their company, American Underwater Products (AUP). The room was packed. Later I took Nick and some others in the pool and let them try out the sidemount gear configuration I was using. At that DEMA, Bob decided that they would get behind recreational open water sidemount and manufacture a sidemount system.

The following year Hollis released their SMS 100. It resulted in a big boost for my personal diving career. Bob said that we needed to go to AUP’s dealers and distributors around the world and show them this new product. So, I traveled with the Hollis/AUP staff and made presentations all around the world, including Russia, the UK, Australia, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, the Caribbean, the US, Canada, and I’m sure there are others..

That’s amazing. You arguably became one of sidemount’s first ambassadors!

That next year was one of the highlights of my 39 years of teaching scuba. Bob asked me if I would take him and his family to Mexico and dive the SMS 100 that his company had designed. It was a real privilege for me. We went to Playa del Carmen, and I had the opportunity to actually Bob, Nick and Mike Hollis diving in sidemount. That was a very memorable experience. 

L2R: Mike Hollis, Jeff Loflin, and Bob Hollis surfacing after Bob Hollis’s first sidemount dive circa 2011.
I bet! Wow. It seems that the launch of SMS 100 was certainly an inflection point in the growth of sidemount.

In my humble opinion, our initiative with Hollis really helped pique interest in recreational sidemount. And remember, other companies like Dive Rite, which had been making sidemount gear for years, was also promoting it. As you well know, sidemount wasn’t new, it had been around in the cave community for decades prior to my getting involved, but it wasn’t really common in the recreational open ocean or open lake arena until Hollis started pushing it. That increased awareness of the fun and excitement of sidemount. It was something different and didn’t require a lot of new gear, like with rebreathers.

As you would expect with all the interest, a lot of instructors like myself authored some sidemount programs with PADI, and many took the instructor class from me. In fact, I ended up going to PADI HQ and training some regional managers and staff. As a result of all this activity, in Q1, 2012, PADI released its Tec sidemount program as a standard specialty, and in Q2 they released the Recreational sidemount specialty. 

Jeff Loflin spreading the sidemount buzz in the Philippines in 2011.
So, at that point, in 2012, there was enough interest and volume for PADI to make a standard specialty like Nitrox, Dry Suit, or Peak Performance Buoyancy, that would be available to the public?

You would have to ask them directly of course about their decision. But in my opinion, the number of certifications, the level of interest, and the number of manufacturers that were now making sidemount equipment, warranted enough attention that PADI, and other agencies as well, decided to make it a standardized program for both tec and recreational divers. 

Instructors could then seek out an instructor trainer that was knowledgeable in sidemount and go through the process of the standards to become an instructor. They also always had the same option  I did to author a self-taught program and show proof of their experiences and dives. 

Didn’t you team up with cave explorer and educator Jill Heinerth at some point?

Yes, that same year, my friend Jill Heinerth, who was a very accomplished sidemount rebreather, instructor, and overall, wonderful person. I asked Jill if we could make a recreational sidemount training video together. We launched the video, which was a basic explanation of recreational sidemount, and it sold pretty well. 

2012 was a heady year for diving. DAN, PADI and the American Academy of Underwater Scientists (AAUS) hosted Rebreather Forum 3, and in addition to its sidemount programs, PADI launched their recreational rebreather program, which as we know now, didn’t really take off, though that does not seem to have been the case with sidemount. 
So, Jeff, what has transpired with the world of recreational sidemount over the last decade? 

The program has evolved and been fine-tuned as a result of people’s input. There are now more than a dozen manufacturers and many great instructors. In addition, I think the development of sidemount also helped PADI and other agencies get a better handle on buoyancy issues, because nowadays there is near universal awareness of the importance of good buoyancy and trim. As a result, a lot more attention is being paid to gear configuration and how divers carry  tanks.

It appears that almost all of the training agencies have a sidemount program, both tech and recreational. Any sense of how big the market is? Do you think it’s bigger than rebreather diving? What’s your take?

I can only speculate from my travels, education, and observations at dive sites, but I’d probably say that more people are diving sidemount worldwide than rebreathers. The reason is likely the simplicity and relative expense of sidemount versus rebreathers. It’s also an easier transition to sidemount, and around the world it’s less complicated to get single tanks  vs rebreather tanks or back mounted doubles.

Thank you Jeff. This was most enlightening.

Return to: The Who’s Who of Sidemount


YouTube: Sidemount Diving Training Instruction: Jeff Loflin & Jill Heinerth

Cave Diving Down Under: Sidemount Diving-DVD with Jill Heinerth and Jeff Loflin

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Twenty-five Years in the Pursuit of Excellence – The Evolution and Future of GUE

Founder and president Jarrod Jablonski describes his more than a quarter of a century long quest to promote excellence in technical diving.




by Jarrod Jablonski. Images courtesy of J. Jablonski and GUE unless noted.

The most difficult challenges we confront in our lives are the most formative and are instrumental in shaping the person we become. When I founded Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), the younger version of myself could not have foreseen all the challenges I would face, but equally true is that he would not have known the joy, the cherished relationships, the sense of purpose, the rich adventures, the humbling expressions of appreciation from those impacted, or the satisfaction of seeing the organization evolve and reshape our industry. Many kindred souls and extraordinary events have shaped these last 25 years, and an annotated chronology of GUE is included in this issue of InDEPTH. This timeline, however, will fail to capture the heart behind the creation of GUE, it will miss the passionate determination currently directing GUE, or the committed dedication ready to guide the next 25 years.

Photo courtesy of Kirill Egorov

I don’t remember a time that I was not in, around, and under the water. Having learned to swim before I could walk, my mother helped infuse a deep connection to the aquatic world. I was scuba certified in South Florida with my father, and promptly took all our gear to North Florida where I became a dive instructor at the University of Florida. It was then that I began my infatuation with cave diving. I was in the perfect place for it, and my insatiable curiosity was multiplied while exploring new environments. I found myself with a strong desire to visit unique and hard-to-reach places, be they far inside a cave or deep within the ocean. 

My enthusiasm for learning was pressed into service as an educator, and I became enamored with sharing these special environments. Along with this desire to share the beauty and uniqueness of underwater caves was a focused wish to assist people in acquiring the skills I could see they needed to support their personal diving goals. It could be said that these early experiences were the seeds that would germinate, grow, mature, and bloom into the organizing principles for GUE.

Brent Scarabin, Jarrod and George “Trey” Irvine getting ready to dive.
Jarrod with his Halcyon PVR-BASC prototype.
George Irvine and Jarrod conducting the original DIR workshop.

The Pre-GUE Years

Before jumping into the formational days of GUE, allow me to help you visualize the environment that was the incubator for the idea that became GUE’s reality. By the mid-1990s, I was deeply involved in a variety of exploration activities and had been striving to refine my own teaching capacity alongside this growing obsession for exploratory diving. While teaching my open water students, I was in the habit of practicing to refine my own trim and buoyancy, noticing that the students quickly progressed and were mostly able to copy my position in the water. Rather than jump immediately into the skills that were prescribed, I started to take more time to refine their comfort and general competency. This subtle shift made a world of difference in the training outcomes, creating impressive divers with only slightly more time and a shift in focus. In fact, the local dive boats would often stare in disbelief when told these divers were freshly certified, saying they looked better than most open water instructors! 

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By this point in my career, I could see the problems I was confronting were more systemic and less individualistic. In retrospect, it seemed obvious that key principles had been missing in both my recreational and technical education, not to mention the instructor training I received. The lack of basic skill refinement seemed to occur at all levels of training, from the beginner to the advanced diver. Core skills like buoyancy or in-water control were mainly left for divers to figure out on their own and almost nobody had a meaningful emphasis on efficient movement in the water. It was nearly unheard of to fail people in scuba diving, and even delaying certification for people with weak skills was very unusual. This remains all too common to this day, but I believe GUE has shifted the focus in important ways, encouraging people to think of certification more as a process and less as a right granted to them because they paid for training. 

L2R: Jarrod Todd Kincaid and Rickard Lundgren plotting their 1999 Britannic expedition.

The weakness in skill refinement during dive training was further amplified by little-to-no training in how to handle problems when they developed while diving, as they always do. In those days, even technical/cave training had very little in the way of realistic training in problem resolution. The rare practice of failures was deeply disconnected from reality. For example, there was almost no realistic scenario training for things like a failed regulator or light. What little practice there was wasn’t integrated into the actual dive and seemed largely useless in preparing for real problems. I began testing some of my students with mock equipment failures, and I was shocked at how poorly even the best students performed. They were able to quickly develop the needed skills, but seeing how badly most handled their first attempts left me troubled about the response of most certified divers should they experience problems while diving, as they inevitably would. 

Diving Fatalities

Meanwhile, I was surrounded by a continual progression of diving fatalities, and most appeared entirely preventable. The loss of dear friends and close associates had a deep impact on my view of dive training and especially on the procedures being emphasized at that time within the community. The industry, in those early days, was wholly focused on deep air and solo diving. However, alarmingly lacking were clear bottle marking or gas switching protocols. It seemed to me to be no coincidence that diver after diver lost their lives simply because they breathed the wrong bottle at depth. Many others died mysteriously during solo dives or while deep diving with air. 

One of the more impactful fatalities was Bob McGuire, who was a drill sergeant, friend, and occasional dive buddy. He was normally very careful and focused. One day a small problem with one regulator caused him to switch regulators before getting in the water. He was using a system that used color-coded regulators to identify the gas breathed. When switching the broken regulator, he either did not remember or did not have an appropriately colored regulator. This small mistake cost him his life. I clearly remember turning that one around in my head quite a bit. Something that trivial should not result in the loss of a life. 

Also disturbing was the double fatality of good friends, Chris and Chrissy Rouse, who lost their lives while diving a German U-boat in 70 m/230 ft of water off the coast of New Jersey. I remember, as if the conversation with Chris were yesterday, asking him not to use air and even offering to support the cost as a counter to his argument about the cost of helium. And the tragedies continued: The loss of one of my closest friends Sherwood Schille, the death of my friend Steve Berman who lived next to me and with whom I had dived hundreds of times, the shock of losing pioneering explorer Sheck Exley, the regular stream of tech divers, and the half dozen body recoveries I made over only a couple years, which not only saddened me greatly, but also made me angry. Clearly, a radically different approach was needed.

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Learning to Explore

Meanwhile, my own exploration activities were expanding rapidly. Our teams were seeking every opportunity to grow their capability while reducing unnecessary risk. To that end, we ceased deep air diving and instituted a series of common protocols with standardized equipment configurations, both of which showed great promise in expanding safety, efficiency, and comfort. We got a lot of things wrong and experienced enough near misses to keep us sharp and in search of continual improvement. 

Casey McKinlay and Jarrod with stages and Gavin scooters in Wakulla Springs. Photo courtesy of David Rhea

But we looked carefully at every aspect of our diving, seeking ways to advance safety, efficiency, and all-around competency while focusing plenty of attention into the uncommon practice of large-scale, team diving, utilizing setup dives, safety divers, and inwater support. We developed diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) towing techniques, which is something that had not been done previously. We mostly ignored and then rewrote CNS oxygen toxicity calculations, developed novel strategies for calculating decompression time, and created and refined standard procedures for everything from bottle switching to equipment configurations. Many of these developments arose from simple necessity. There were no available decompression programs and no decompression tables available for the dives we were doing. Commonly used calculations designed to reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity were useless to our teams, because even our more casual dives were 10, 20, or even 30 times the allowable limit. The industry today takes most of this for granted, but in the early days of technical diving, we had very few tools, save a deep motivation to go where no one had gone before.

All in a dive of diving for the WKPP.

Many of these adventures included friends in the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP), where I refined policies within the team and most directly with longtime dive buddy George Irvine. This “Doing it Right” (DIR) approach sought to create a more expansive system than Hogarthian diving, which itself had been born in the early years of the WKPP and was named after William Hogarth Main, a friend and frequent dive buddy of the time. By this point, I had been writing about and expanding upon Hogarthian diving for many years. More and more of the ideas we wanted to develop were not Bill Main’s priorities and lumping them into his namesake became impractical, especially given all the debate within the community over what was and was not Hogarthian. 

A similar move from DIR occurred some years later when GUE stepped away from the circular debates that sought to explain DIR and embraced a GUE configuration with standard protocols, something entirely within our scope to define.

These accumulating events reached critical mass in 1998. I had experienced strong resistance to any form of standardization, even having been asked to join a special meeting of the board of directors (BOD) for a prominent cave diving agency. Their intention was to discourage me from using any form of standard configuration, claiming that students should be allowed to do whatever they “felt’ was best. It was disconcerting for me, as a young instructor, to be challenged by pioneers in the sport; nevertheless, I couldn’t agree with the edict that someone who was doing something for the first time should be tasked with determining how it should be done. 

This sort of discussion was common, but the final straw occurred when I was approached by the head of a technical diving agency, an organization for which I had taught for many years. I was informed that he considered it a violation of standards not to teach air to a depth of at least 57 m/190 ft. This same individual told me that I had to stop using MOD bottle markings and fall in line with the other practices endorsed by his agency. Push had finally come to shove, and I set out to legitimize the training methods and dive protocols that had been incubating in my mind and refined with our teams over the previous decade. Years of trial and many errors while operating in dynamic and challenging environments were helping us to identify what practices were most successful in support of excellence, safety, and enjoyment.

Forming GUE

Forming GUE as a non-profit company was intended to neutralize the profit motivations that appeared to plague other agencies. We hoped to remove the incentive to train—and certify—the greatest number of divers as quickly as possible because it seemed at odds with ensuring comfortable and capable divers. The absence of a profit motive complemented the aspirational plans that longtime friend Todd Kincaid and I had dreamed of. We imagined a global organization that would facilitate the efforts of underwater explorers while supporting scientific research and conservation initiatives. 

I hoped to create an agency that placed most of the revenue in the hands of fully engaged and enthusiastic instructors, allowing them the chance to earn a good living and become professionals who might stay within the industry over many years. Of course, that required forgoing the personal benefit of ownership and reduced the revenue available to the agency, braking its growth and complicating expansion plans. This not only slowed growth but provided huge challenges in developing a proper support network while creating the agency I envisioned. There were years of stressful days and nights because of the need to forgo compensation and the deep dependance upon generous volunteers who had to fit GUE into their busy lives. If it were not for these individuals and our loyal members, we would likely never have been successful. Volunteer support and GUE membership have been and remain critical to the growing success of our agency. If you are now or have ever been a volunteer or GUE member, your contribution is a significant part of our success, and we thank you. 

Photo courtesy of Kirill Egorov

The challenges of the early years gave way to steady progress—always slower than desired, with ups and downs, but progress, nonetheless. Some challenges were not obvious at the outset. For example, many regions around the world were very poorly developed in technical diving. Agencies intent on growth seemed to ignore that problem, choosing whoever was available, and regardless of their experience in the discipline, they would soon be teaching. 

This decision to promote people with limited experience became especially problematic when it came to Instructor Trainers. People with almost no experience in something like trimix diving were qualifying trimix instructors. Watching this play out in agency after agency, and on continent after continent, was a troubling affair. Conversely, it took many years for GUE to develop and train people of appropriate experience, especially when looking to critical roles, including high-level tech and instructor trainers. At the same time, GUE’s efforts shaped the industry in no small fashion as agencies began to model their programs after GUE’s training protocols. Initially, having insisted that nobody would take something like Fundamentals, every agency followed suit in developing their own version of these programs, usually taught by divers that had followed GUE training. 

This evolving trend wasn’t without complexity but was largely a positive outcome. Agencies soon focused on fundamental skills, incorporated some form of problem-resolution training, adhered to GUE bottle and gas switching protocols, reduced insistence on deep air, and started talking more about developing skilled divers, among other changes. This evolution was significant when compared to the days of arguing about why a person could not learn to use trimix until they were good while diving deep on air. 

To be sure, a good share of these changes was more about maintaining business relevance than making substantive improvements. The changes themselves were often more style than substance, lacking objective performance standards and the appropriate retraining of instructors. Despite these weaknesses, they remain positive developments. Talking about something is an important first step and, in all cases, it makes room for strong instructors in any given agency to practice what is being preached. In fact, these evolving trends have allowed GUE to now push further in the effort to create skilled and experienced divers, enhancing our ability to run progressively more elaborate projects with increasingly more sophisticated outcomes. 

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The Future of GUE

The coming decades of GUE’s future appear very bright. Slow but steady growth has now placed the organization in a position to make wise investments, ensuring a vibrant and integrated approach. Meanwhile, evolving technology and a broad global base place GUE in a unique and formidable position. Key structural and personnel adjustments complement a growing range of virtual tools, enabling our diverse communities and representatives to collaborate and advance projects in a way that, prior to now, was not possible. Strong local communities can be easily connected with coordinated global missions; these activities include ever-more- sophisticated underwater initiatives as well as structural changes within the GUE ecosystem. One such forward-thinking project leverages AI-enabled, adaptive learning platforms to enhance both the quality and efficiency of GUE education. Most agencies, including GUE, have been using some form of online training for years, but GUE is taking big steps to reinvent the quality and efficiency of this form of training. This is not to replace, but rather to extend and augment inwater and in-person learning outcomes. Related tools further improve the fluidity, allowing GUE to seamlessly connect previously distant communities, enabling technology, training, and passion to notably expand our ability to realize our broad, global mission.

Photo courtesy of Kirill Egorov

Meanwhile, GUE and its range of global communities are utilizing evolving technologies to significantly expand the quality and scope of their project initiatives. Comparing the impressive capability of current GUE communities with those of our early years shows a radical and important shift, allowing results equal or even well beyond those possible when compared even with well-funded commercial projects. Coupled with GUE training and procedural support, these ongoing augmentations place our communities at the forefront of underwater research and conservation. This situation will only expand and be further enriched with the use of evolving technology and closely linked communities. Recent and planned expansions to our training programs present a host of important tools that will continue being refined in the years to come. Efforts to expand and improve upon the support provided to GUE projects with technology, people, and resources are now coming online and will undoubtedly be an important part of our evolving future.

The coming decades will undoubtedly present challenges. But I have no doubt that together we will not only overcome those obstacles but we will continue to thrive. I believe that GUE’s trajectory remains overwhelmingly positive, for we are an organization that is continually evolving—driven by a spirit of adventure, encouraged by your heartwarming stories, and inspired by the satisfaction of overcoming complex problems. Twenty-five years ago, when I took the path less traveled, the vision I had for GUE was admittedly ambitious. The reality, however, has exceeded anything I could have imagined. I know that GUE will never reach a point when it is complete but that it will be an exciting lifelong journey, one that, for me, will define a life well lived. I look forward our mutual ongoing “Quest for Excellence.”

See Listings Below For Additional Resources On GUE And GUE Diving!

Jarrod is an avid explorer, researcher, author, and instructor who teaches and dives in oceans and caves around the world. Trained as a geologist, Jarrod is the founder and president of GUE and CEO of Halcyon and Extreme Exposure while remaining active in conservation, exploration, and filming projects worldwide. His explorations regularly place him in the most remote locations in the world, including numerous world record cave dives with total immersions near 30 hours. Jarrod is also an author with dozens of publications, including three books.

A Few GUE Fundamentals

Similar to military, commercial and public safety divers, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) is a standards-based diving community, with specific protocols, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and tools. Here are selected InDEPTH stories on some of the key aspects of GUE diving, including a four-part series on the history and development of GUE decompression procedures by founder and president Jarod Jablonski.

Anatomy of a Fundamentals Class

GUE Instructor Examiner Guy Shockey explains the thought and details that goes into GUE’s most popular course, Fundamentals, aka “Fundies,” which has been taken by numerous industry luminaries. Why all the fanfare? Shockey characterizes the magic as “simple things done precisely!

Back to Fundamentals: An Introduction to GUE’s Most Popular Diving Course

Instructor evaluator Rich Walker attempts to answer the question, “why is Fundamentals GUE’s most popular diving course?” Along the way, he clarifies some of the myths and misconceptions about GUE training. Hint: there is no Kool-Aid. 

The GUE Pre-dive Sequence

As you’d expect, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) has a standardized approach to prepare your equipment for the dive, and its own pre-dive checklist: the GUE EDGE. Here explorer and filmmaker Dimitris Fifis preps you to take the plunge, GUE-style.

The Flexibility of Standard Operating Procedures

Instructor trainer Guy Shockey discusses the purpose, value, and yes, flexibility of standard operating procedures, or SOPs, in diving. Sound like an oxymoron? Shockey explains how SOPs can help offload some of our internal processing and situational awareness, so we can focus on the important part of the dive—having FUN!

Standard Gases: The Simplicity of Everyone Singing the Same Song

Like the military and commercial diving communities before them, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) uses standardized breathing mixtures for various depth ranges and for decompression. Here British wrecker and instructor evaluator Rich Walker gets lyrical and presents the reasoning behind standard mixes and their advantages, compared with a “best mix” approach. Don’t worry, you won’t need your hymnal, though Walker may have you singing some blues.

Rules of Thumb: The Mysteries of Ratio Deco Revealed

Is it a secret algorithm developed by the WKPP to get you out of the water faster sans DCI, or an unsubstantiated decompression speculation promoted by Kool-Aid swilling quacks and charlatans? British tech instructor/instructor evaluator Rich Walker divulges the arcane mysteries behind GUE’s ratio decompression protocols in this first of a two part series.

The Thought Process Behind GUE’s CCR Configuration

Global Underwater Explorers is known for taking its own holistic approach to gear configuration. Here GUE board member and Instructor Trainer Richard Lundgren explains the reasoning behind its unique closed-circuit rebreather configuration. It’s all about the gas!

GUE and the Future of Open Circuit Tech Diving

Though they were late to the party, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) is leaning forward on rebreathers, and members are following suit. So what’s to become of their open circuit-based TECH 2 course? InDepth’s Ashley Stewart has the deets.

Project Divers Are We

Diving projects, or expeditions—think Bill Stone’s Wakulla Springs 1987 project, or the original explorations of the Woodville Karst Plain’s Project (WKPP)—helped give birth to technical diving, and today continue as an important focal point and organizing principle for communities like Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). The organization this year unveiled a new Project Diver program, intended to elevate “community-led project dives to an entirely new level of sophistication.” Here, authors Guy Shockey and Francesco Cameli discuss the power of projects and take us behind the scenes of the new program

Decompression, Deep Stops and the Pursuit of Precision in a Complex World In this first of a four-part series, Global Underwater Explorers’ (GUE) founder and president Jarrod Jablonski explores the historical development of GUE decompression protocols, with a focus on technical diving and the evolving trends in decompression research.

  • Area 9
  • Halcyon Sidemount
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