Open Water

Open Water

Contact Info:
Pete Vanags at UTD Scuba Diving (Instructor)
Company: Unified Team Diving

Instructor: Pete Vanags

Open Water

By: Pete Vanags at UTD Scuba Diving (Instructor)
Instructor: Pete Vanags
Region: United States
Where: 8545 Arjons Drive Ste N, San Diego, 92126
Event by Appointment: Instruction fee is based upon the size of the class. Plan on spending 5-6 total days to complete the course. It can happen in 4 long days if everything goes perfectly, but extra time allows a more relaxed schedule and contingencies for weather, etc.

Event arranged by appointment.


UTD’s Open Water course is an entry level class designed to teach non-certified divers to be safe and comfortable while enjoying the wonders beneath the surface of our oceans, lakes and other waters. The class focuses on the fun of underwater exploration while teaching good diving skills, safety, and respect for the marine environment.     

The class incorporates basic scuba diving theory, knowledge and equipment configuration with an introduction to UTD/GUE/DIR style precision diving skills. Extensive and in-depth classroom, pool and open water sessions provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become safe, comfortable, knowledgeable and confident open water scuba divers.


Minimum age of 16.

Comfort in the water is a must. Be able to swim a distance of at least 50 feet/15 meters on a breath hold. Be able to swim at least 200 yards/185 meters in less than 14 minutes without stopping.

Any use of prescription drugs or pre-existing health conditions which affect your ability to dive must be cleared by a physician before the start of class.

Course limits

Maximum depth 60’/18m. Standard breathing gas is air.

Who is this class designed for?

Open Water class is designed for the non-certified diver who wants to learn precision recreational scuba diving from the start. For those interested in more challenging underwater exploration, the class also serves as a solid foundation for further UTD/GUE/DIR technical scuba training.

Class Information

Open Water Class is a serious and time consuming commitment for students and instructor alike. It involves 32-36 hours of intensive classroom, pool and open water instruction.

Plan on spending 5-6 full days to complete the entire course. The class is doable in 4 long days if everything goes perfectly, but the extra time allows for a more relaxed schedule, and helps us deal with unforeseen issues like bad weather, etc.

One full day of classroom instruction will provide students an introduction to basic scuba diving physics and physiology, scuba equipment configuration, minimum decompression theory and practice, balanced weighting, dive planning, gas management and situational awareness.

During classroom sessions, students will also perform "dry runs" to practice and familiarize themselves with the skills they will perform under water.

In-water sessions include one full day of confined water (pool) practice, and 2 full days of diving in the ocean. The first ocean dive will be an orientation/comfort dive, followed by 2 or more skills dives, and finally an experience dive which is planned and executed by the students themselves.

Student performance will be evaluated throughout the class. A UTD Open Water certification will be granted to students who complete a knowledge test, perform required skills, demonstrate familiarity with their equipment and comfort in the water.

UTD Open Water certification will allow you to scuba dive around the world within your certification limitations (60' depth, breathing air) unsupervised by an instructor or divemaster. This certification is also a prerequisite to continue within the UTD training curriculum.

Equipment Requirements

Students are expected to provide their own mask, fins, snorkel, booties and gloves for the class. Please consult your instructor before purchasing these items to ensure you shop for gear that will work best for the class. No split fins!

The following equipment is provided for the duration of the class for a $50 per student rental fee: two AL80 scuba tanks, regulator with long-hose primary and necklace-style backup, buoyancy compensator, harness, backplate (backmount students), 7mm wetsuit, weights, and a depth-measuring device.


The instruction fee of $1000 is split between 2-4 students, so you can choose the class size and level of personalization that suits you best. Additional per-student fees are $100 for digital course materials, and $50 for equipment rentals and air fills.

Optional extras are boat dives and/or travel (Catalina, anyone?) for the open water portion of the class.

About the Instructor

Pete Vanags is a San Diego based UTD Foundational Instructor. He was originally trained by Bud Gray at Underwater Sports in Seattle in 1986, and has been training others to scuba dive since 1989.

Before he became a UTD instructor, Pete spent 9 years at UC Berkeley teaching scientists to scuba dive and do research under water. It was here among the infamous "UC Divers" that he developed his love for California cold water diving in the frigid waters of Monterey Bay and Point Lobos.

Pete switched from backmount diving to sidemount in 2013, and has been diving and teaching exclusively in sidemount configuration ever since.

Pete's interest is providing the highest quality precision recreational scuba training to his students. In his classes, students learn advanced techniques typically associated with technical diving, with the goal of making their recreational diving as fun and safe as possible.

His current diving activity includes pursuing his own advanced technical scuba training, driving a DPV (scooter) as often as he can borrow one, and going on regular cold-water scuba expeditions around California and the Pacific Northwest.

What do students say? 

"Pete is a thorough instructor, extremely personable, and represents UTD to the highest standards. I was especially impressed with Pete's ability to coordinate with our group on a busy labor day weekend. I would recommend both Pete & UTD to anyone interested in diving." -- Garrett P.

"Pete was outstanding. His patience and commitment to our success was remarkable. UTD came highly recommended by a very good friend and it Did not disappoint. It exceeded our expectations even after completing the on-line course. I will surely be recommending it to any Divers I see struggling or just looking to improve." -- William M.


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