“My Sidemount Experience” by PADI Regional Manager, Neil Richards

Written by PADI Regional Manager for East Thailand, Neil Richards.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Stepping outside of your comfort zone, and trying new things, is the best way to grow.

Most of my friends in the diving industry (and myself included) started out as young travellers looking for new experiences and adventures. Maybe you did the same.

Do you remember when you made that decision to pack your ruck sack and go? With your new bag on your back stuffed with first aid kits, shoes for all occasions and a bar of soap, off you set not really knowing what to expect.

The excitement you felt getting on an overnight train in a completely different country. The new tastes, sounds and smells, experiencing a complete ‘culture shock’. You arrive at the jetty after a long journey to take your first look at the island you will be calling home for the next few months. It was such a change from your normal, comfortable life. However, after some time, the excitement of being in new territory subsided and life started to get comfortable again, some of the excitement was not there anymore. You still loved your new life, but something was missing.

I had a similar feeling when I started diving. Trying something completely new and out of my comfort zone was exciting and challenging. It was so awesome I decided that going home was no longer an option and I went on to become a PADI Instructor. 13 years later, after thousands of dives and a myriad of experience, I started to feel the itch to try something new. I wanted to get back that excitement that I had when I first started diving – I needed a new challenge. So I decided to take the PADI Sidemount course.

I have always had a desire to become a technical diver. This yearning came after some awe inspiring dives in the cenote caves in Mexico. They were some of the most amazing and adventurous dives I have ever experienced. I noticed two other divers had two of their tanks beside them instead of on their backs. They continued into the cave system and were soon out of sight. I became really curious and wanted to follow them but with a single cylinder on my back, and no specialised training, of course this was not an option. I later learned that this configuration is known as “Sidemount”.

The last few years for me have been very busy so only recently did I manage to get the time and opportunity to take my PADI Sidemount Specialty course. Even with all my years of experience, I felt completely out of my comfort zone and I was having a diving culture shock. It felt like the first time I went travelling again. Everything was new and unfamiliar. I had to start thinking about buoyancy again. I was unaccustomed to the trim and equipment configuration. Equipment set up was completely different. As for the in water skills, I almost felt like a complete beginner. Taking cylinders off and pushing them ahead of me whilst I tried to stay streamlined and neutrally buoyant must have looked almost comical, however after a bit of practice it became much easier. It was one of the most challenging and exciting courses I have taken.

The PADI Sidemount Specialty is not just for divers wanting to explore the more technical side of diving. It has become increasingly popular with recreational divers, some of whom find the configuration of having cylinders on the sides instead of on the back, more comfortable and easier to access.

Sidemount has now opened up a whole new avenue into diving I didn’t know existed. Be it technical or recreational, or whether experienced or new to diving, the PADI Sidemount Specialty is definitely for those who love a new adventure.

Product Announcement: PADI Sidemount & Tec Sidemount Student Manual

The PADI Sidemount & Tec Sidemount Student Manual is available now in Japanese for PADI Asia Pacific Members! (Product Code: 70491J).

The PADI Sidemount & Tec Sidemount Diver Pak contains the student manual and Paper or Online PIC (Product Code: 70491JSP/P70491JSP)

Related Products Also Available in Japanese:

  • Recreational Sidemount Instructor Outline – Product Code: 70490J
  • Tec Sidemount Instructor Outline – Product Code: 71055J

sidemount manual

Follow these links for more information on the PADI Recreational Sidemount Course and for the Tec Course.

For more information – contact the PADI Sales Department  (Tel + 61 2 9454 2888) or remember you can order anytime from the Online Shopping Cart by logging onto the PADI Pros’ Site and click ‘Shop Online’.

PADI TEC – Xplorer Days October 9th Phuket Thailand

Explorers have always developed new techniques and equipment to extend the range of their adventures, and divers are no different. By the early 1990s, several groups of divers around the world began experimenting with technologies for deep diving beyond recreational limits to explore both caves and wrecks. These communities united and emerged as “technical diving”. Since then, tec diving continues to develop both in scope and in its technologies.


PADI supported by Divesupply, Aquamaster, Kiwi Divers and Blue Lable Diving,  would like to bring TEC Diving and TEC Equipment a bit closer to you and is happy to invite you to the upcoming TEC- Xplorer days in Phuket on the 9th of October 2014

“it’s really about the challenge and adventure”

What is Technical Diving?

Technical (Tec) diving means going beyond recreational scuba diving limits. But, tec divers will tell you that it’s really about the challenge and adventure of exploring places that no one else has ever seen. Tec diving is not for everyone, but it does attract experienced divers who want to go beyond their current limits and are willing to accept the added risks, training, investment and commitment it demands. If this is you, then PADI TecRec courses are your ticket to extreme adventure.

“Each level introduces you to new gear and procedures to extend your dive limits”

What makes PADI’s TEC -REC Programs Different to other organizations?

PADI TecRec courses are the quality benchmarks in the tec diving world due to their rigorous, yet logical, training sequence and the PADI educational materials that support them. TecRec courses are instructionally valid and have a seamless course flow that takes you from a new tec diver to one qualified to dive to the outer reaches of sport diving. Each level introduces you to new gear and procedures to extend your dive limits.


Why should you become a TEC Diver?

Many spectacular, untouched wrecks lie at depths well below 40 metres/130 feet. Deep reefs have organisms you don’t find in the shallows. Some people enjoy the challenge and focus tec diving requires. Still others love being involved with cutting edge technologies. These reasons make tec diving rewarding.

“you can be an accomplished, avid top-notch diver your entire life without making a tec dive”

However, you can be an accomplished, avid top-notch diver your entire life without making a tec dive. Tec diving does require significantly more effort, discipline and equipment, which means it’s not for everyone.

PADI Technical Diving Courses offered:

PADI TEC REC Technical Diver Courses

Discover Tec
Tec 40
Tec 45
Tec 50
Tec Trimix 65
Tec Trimix Diver
Tec Gas Blender
Tec Sidemount
Discover Rebreather
Rebreather Diver
Advanced Rebreather Diver
Rebreather Qualifier
Rebreather Refresher
Tec 40 CCR
Tec 60 CCR
Tec 100 CCR
Tec CCR Qualifier
Tec CCR Refresher


join us for the PADI TEC – Xplorer Day’s in Phuket

Date: Thursday 9th of October 2014

Time: from 9:00  – 16:00 hours

Venue: Kata Big Rock Pool, Kata Beach Kata

or Contact Regional Manager Andy Auer


Product Announcement – PADI Sidemount & Tec Sidemount Diver Manual is now available and shipping

side mount and tec sidemountThe PADI Sidemount and Tec Sidemount Student Manual is NOW AVAILABLE for PADI Asia Pacific Members (product #70491).

For the Instructor:

PADI Sidemount Specialty Course Instructor Guide (Product #70490)

Tec Sidemount Instructor Guide with Binder (Product #71055)

For the Diver:

PADI Sidemount & Tec Sidemount Diver Pak contains the student manual and Paper or Online PIC, (70491SP/P70491SP)

Follow these links for more information on the PADI Recreational Sidemount Course and for the Tec Course.

If you would like to place an order please contact the PADI Sales Department (tel + 61 2 9454 2888).

Remember you can order anytime from the Online Shopping Cart – log onto the PADI Pros’ Siteand click Shop Online.