For many years, the CESA has been the signature skill on PADI Open Water courses, Divemaster Skill Circuits and the Instructor Development Course.

So now, let’s imagine that for an unexplainable reason, a diver runs out of air and can’t find assistance from a buddy or a spare air supply…
This diver will need to reach the surface on one breath only and be able to establish positive buoyancy at the surface.

So how do we teach our students to face this unlikely event?

Confined Water Practice

First we start in the pool. Horizontally. The diver must simulate the CESA while swimming a distance of at least 9m/30ft. And make an “ahhhh” sound to insure they are exhaling and thus avoid a serious lung injury.

As with any confined water skill, the instructor will begin with a demonstration (see video) during which they will not complete a full 9 meters but rather a u-turn in front of the students. This positioning will be visually more effective as the students can see both sides of the body with the arms extended, the left hand holding the LPI up as if ascending.

The students will now repeat the skill with the instructor holding onto them. One way to assure that the student is performing the skill correctly is to hold the tank valve with one hand while laying two fingers on the regulator to check for continuous exhalation.

Attributes to look out for :
– Constant exhalation
– Slow speed
– LPI extended
– 9m/30ft fully covered
– Neutral buoyancy during whole swim
– Regulator and weights stay in place

Once the students have mastered the skill, they can move on to the next step.

Open Water

The CESA is a flexible skill that can be taught at any time during Open Water Dives 2,3 and 4.
The Instructor must set up a control line that can be hanging from the boat (watch your head when surfacing) or weighted/ screwed on the bottom of the dive site.

The ascent must start at a depth between 6m/20 feet and 9m/30ft. Upon reaching the surface, the diver will regain positive buoyancy by either inflating their BCD orally or dropping their weights. If you choose the latter option, you can combine it with another flexible skill, the Emergency Weight Drop. In any case always hold on to the student to make sure they do not sink.

During the ascent, the Instructor must always have control of the line by holding it or wrapping it around a leg. You can also hold the student by a D-ring or shoulder strap from the BCD. The other hand should once again be on their regulator. Make sure that you do not restrict the student’s swimming as they must kick all the way to the surface in a controlled manner.

You can watch more skill demonstrations on our YouTube Channel.

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