Diving equivalence: when your certification is worthless
It’s not always easy to find your way around when you want to dive in France.The problem of diving equivalence can sometimes lead to situations that should be avoided.
Indeed, while in the rest of the world there is a certain consensus on diving certifications, “a people of irreducible Gauls resists again and again.”
Of course, in comics, this situation is fun. But in the reality of our diving world, this particular resistance sometimes poses real problems. Both foreign divers and French divers who have completed a course abroad or with a training agency not recognized by the sports code.
Diving equivalence: not so simple
Today’s world allows us to discover the richness of the underwater world. People are more mobile and want to go to many places. As a result, many of us take advantage of our holidays to discover the wonders of the marine world. Some take the opportunity to pass one or the other diving certification during their holidays. Others want to open up to multiple experiences. Some decide to have a certification from various certification agencies. Others prefer to learn throughout the year in structures (associative or not). Structures offering training courses specific to the environment in which they wish to evolve.
Most of the time, it does not matter.
Indeed, the sports code allows diving directors of French dive shops to give prerogatives to divers who dive with them.
But sometimes divers going to French dive centres and have (very) unpleasant surprises.
Refusal to validate prerogatives and disrepute of a certification
Is it possible to decently refuse to validate prerogatives? And, even worse, to bring a certification into disrepute because it is not French? This was my case that year.
In order to respect my philosophy, the names of the people have of course been changed.
▶️Learn more about my philosophy
Invited to dive
It’s summer time and it’s sunny. I am happy because I’m going to dive in France. Indeed, I am invited by my friend Jean to dive with him in the center frequented by his colleague Lola. It is a well-known centre in this region of France.
As there is no more room for the car in front of the center, I take our diving bags and let my buddy look for a suitable place to park the vehicle.
I join Jean who is already in the center with Lola.
Shortly after my arrival, David, the manager of this dive structure comes to greet me and asks me my diving certification in order to compose the teams. I gladly give it to him, I can’t wait to discover the new promised spot. He then asks me the certification of my buddy that will arrive.
I said, “Course director” to which David replies “no I’m talking about a real diving certification”
Diving equivalence: when you bring others into disrepute
I’m speechless. Actually, I’m stunned. I’m marking a timeout. He’s waiting for my reaction.
How dare this person so openly denigrate the achievements, skills and experiences of my buddy without ever having seen it? Without knowing anything about him?
Needless to say, if my friend Jean wasn’t present I would have simply and calmly packed up our logbooks and gone elsewhere.
Instead, I take out my buddy’s 3-CMAS monitor card and ask if it suits him. David looks at the card very closely (in case it’s fake?) and says “yes, now it’s okay”.
Even if I’m angry, I choose to keep these thoughts quiet to my buddy when he arrives.
Positive in nature, I convince myself that it has passed and decides to focus on the pleasure of diving.
The dive is planned on a spot of -40 m deep. David offers us to make a team with Lola. Jean having a certification of PE40 (diver having to be supervised in the -20m to -40m zone), David assigns him one of his instructors. Jean is disappointed and so are we because we wanted to dive together.
Also, we propose to David to supervise Jean since we are both CMAS 3* instructors. This so we could dive with our friend (we had come for this, I recall).
The disrepute continues…
The manager of the center replies “No! You don’t supervise” … Ok. It seems to me, however, that our CMAS3* instructor certification allows us to supervise a member of our team. Either, we comply with what the manager of the centre wants.
We’re joining the boat. Arriving at the spot, Lola, Jean’s colleague who is used to dive with this dive center asks aloud in front of all the divers if Jean can dive with her.
David starts saying “no you’re not N4, I don’t have the right, it’s a commercial structure here” (uh, why? In the association, he thinks she would have the right? ). This, before allowing her openly to supervise Jean, adding “okay, you’re watching him but no nonsense, you don’t exceed -40m, OK ?”
My buddy and I are stunned.
I can't believe it, we are therefore a team of 4 in which we, CMAS 3* instructors, are not allowed to supervise our friend diver PE40 who is taken care of by a diver N3! All in a large centre with a very good reputation.
And then, would they like me to think it’s serious?
To me, what has happened is that our certification is no longer worth anything once we enter the French territory. As a result, I am perplexed about the application of this regulation relating to sport in France. And I allow myself to doubt the quality of the system which suddenly seems arbitrary to me and dependent on the mood and/or judgment of the center manager (#Ihadtosayit)
My knowledge of the French sports code is certainly not perfect. However, I am however always inquiring about the regulations in place in the countries where I will dive. I am aware that the centre director is the sole judge of the equivalence of diving prerogatives in his centre. I also know that he can refuse to recognize the prerogatives of a certification other than those set out in the sports code. (But doing it politely and courteously would be a plus). However, I wonder that it does not recognize the prerogatives of the holder of a CMAS certification yet recognized by the French sports code. And so, here our ability to supervise.
Since I have many friends and family in France, I regularly go diving there. But I had never been faced with such a situation. (Fortunately, I hope this is may be an isolated case?)
So what do you do?
I am aware that the code of sport in France does not make things easier and that the professionals in the sector might suffer. But it is part of the law and they have to work with it. I know there is a majority of people of good will in the diving industry. And I look forward to every new meeting.
However, I think that, in addition to the code that prevents professionals from sometimes doing what they would like, a minimum of goodwill and openness would easily stop this kind of situation of disreputing the abilities and experiences of people. Maybe professionals could simply ask for a change in the code? Or at least less arbitrary recognition of diving certification ?
This is in order to prevent divers trained abroad or through other training agencies from deserting France to other destinations as I mentioned in the article on diving in the south of France.
What are your experiences with diving equivalence in France?
Reassure me and tell me that I am the only one who has experienced a case like this by leaving me a comment below directly on the blog.
And above all … Remember to be happy 🤗