"I know we have said it few times but thank you all again for the education you provided us during the UTD Essentials of Recreational Diving class. It was all I wanted and more for our program. You have allowed me to realize a growth potential in our diving program that I have been trying for years to get started. It couldn't have happened without you." - Jeff Christiansen, Dive Safety Officer / Biologist, Seattle Aquarium

The Essentials of Recreational Diving ("Essentials") course is designed to improve recreational divers' comfort, skills, safety and confidence regardless of skill or experience level, in a safe and fun learning environment.

It's a non-evaluation class, allowing the student to learn new knowledge and skills without the pressure of passing or failing.  Additionally, equipment requirements are minimal, to prevent a large upfront cost of gear purchases. 

Essentials is a common entry point for certified divers from conventional training into UTD’s more demanding curriculum as it provides the diver with the skills and understanding required for more advanced UTD courses, focusing on precise buoyancy control, dive planning, propulsion techniques, ascent procedures, safety and environmental awareness.

This is not a critical skills class.  No failures will be introduced by the instructor in this class.  All skills being performed will be discussed and practiced on land before entering the water.  All dives will be briefed prior to entering the water and all skills will be rehearsed.  



Essentials creates the foundation the diver will build upon for the rest of his/her diving career, regardless of what direction they go.   

You'll be introduced to the UTD philosophy, gear configuration and in-water skills, without a large commitment to gear purchases.  This class is designed for any diver wanting to increase their skill level, confidence and knowledge, with an introduction to team diving.   The class is geared toward the newly certified open water diver, but even seasoned veteran divers and instructors have found that their new skills and knowledge increases both safety and fun.  

It provides the photographer or videographer that precise control that allows you to get your perfect shot and instructors will appreciate the "fresh look" at diver training and skill development, providing them with plenty of new tools in their instructor toolbox.  

Simply put, divers of all skill and experience levels will benefit from this class.


Essentials is centered around building a foundation of skills of which you can incorporate immediately and build upon, regardless of your current and future aspirations.  Every diver wants to have control of their position, buoyancy and propulsion.  If you're in control of your positioning, buoyancy and kicks, you'll enjoy the dive more, and so will your buddies.

Want to learn about the Hogarthian gear configuration, or how to correctly fit your harness, or proper routing and deployment of your longhose regulator? How about managing your primary light and light cord underwater?  

We'll show you how to properly configure your gear to fit you, step 1 of making your underwater life easier.  Once the gear is fitted, we'll put it use.

We'll spend at least 4 dives working on the positioning skills mentioned above, as well as introducing team skills (Basic 6, S-Drill, SMB, etc) while staying "quiet" in the water.

We'll also work on controlled descents and ascents, providing you with the skills and confidence for those dives with no bottom contour to descend or ascend on.

We will "dry run" all skills.  Dry runs allow the student to practice the skills on land under the watchful eye of the instructor(s), allowing them to practice and discuss the skill prior to performing them underwater.

All of this in a non pass/fail environment.  Allowing you to focus on learning, without the burden, stress or pressure of passing a class.


In addition to the many informal discussions throughout the course, we'll have in-depth discussions on:

  • Gear configuration and how to properly fit it, and more importantly why it's configured that way
  • Decompression & "Min Deco"
  • Gas planning & management
  • Communication

Our diving days end with video review of the day's dives.  All FKD classes are video'd for educational and review purposes only.  We believe it is invaluable for students to visually focus on their individual in-water skills, situational awareness, communication and team diving.  Learning to self evaluate is an important aspect of the class.  

Our focus is the complete dedication to your diving skills, knowledge & in water practice.



  • Minimum 16 years of age
  • Must be a certified open water diver from a recognized training agency


  • Maximum depth is 60’.  Average depth 20 - 30'
  • All dives are to maintain a working PO2 of no greater than 1.4
  • Standard gas is air or 32%
  • Single tank configuration (doubles optional)
  • No stage decompression
  • No overhead environments
  • Long hose primary, and necklace style backup regulator hose configuration
  • Instructor to student ratio maximum 6:1 in open water, adjusting downward for environmental conditions.


  • 3 days, minimum 4 dives, 8 hours of academics

All UTD / FKD classes are video'd for educational and review purposes only. We believe it is invaluable for students to visually focus on their individual in-water skills, situational awareness, communication and team diving. Learning to self evaluate is an important aspect of the class. 


  • Complete the academic materials (online or book)
  • All UTD & FKD classes are non-smoking
  • The use of prescription drugs must be authorized prior to the onset of diver training by a physician
  • Must be able to swim a distance of at least 50 feet/15 meters on a breath hold
  • Must be able to swim at least 300 yards/275 meters in less than 14 minutes without stopping 


  • Long hose primary, and necklace style backup regulator hose configuration 
  • Blade style fins (no split fins)
  • Equipment Requirements Page