I don't want to pile on to the topic about the recent EN incident, so I thought I'd start a generic, but related topic here. Let's start with a look in the mirror. Are there rolls of fat hanging over the waist of your pants? Is your shape generally round? If the answer is yes, you should not be diving. Period. When hauling your tanks and scooter from your car to the water's edge at JB, are you huffing and puffing and out of breath? If the answer is yes, you should not be diving. Period. Are you 5'8" and need an XXXL drysuit? Do you exercise regularly? And I mean really exercise, not just go to the gym and socialize (I see A LOT of that at my gym). Are you a couch potato? Steady diet of fast food, sugar, and junk? Need I go on? Anyone in these categories should not be diving at all, much less Tech Diving. How did we get to this state? To paraphrase one of my favorite comedians, we have it too easy. We have evolved to the point where we no longer need to avoid predators. And in so doing, we've become lazy, increasingly more so with each generation.

There are some other sources of blame I can point to for the apparent mass delusion that anyone can dive. Dive equipment manufacturers and Training Agencies are all for profit enterprises and encourage growth (profit) through volume. As such, they market to an ever widening (pun intended) group. NAUI standards for initial open water training entry are diluted to require satisfactory demonstration of 15 continuous stroke cycles as its pre training surface swimming requirement! Seriously? And NAUI is supposed to be the Gold Standard (at least according to them). We've reached the point now that we are training children to dive! 8 year olds on open circuit? And statistically, the current batch of 8 year olds are the fattest segment of our populace. But enough bashing of agencies and manufacturers. The biggest source of blame is you.

Honest self assessment is what is really needed. We are all supposed to be adults. When we undertake any strenuous activity, in the condition described above, we are putting ourselves at risk. So look in the mirror. If you cannot honestly say that what you see is in good condition and able to withstand the rigors that strenuous activity demands, step away. There are myriad opportunities and facilities available to fix the problem.

See a doctor. Get a physical. Do a little P.T. Have a salad, some fruit, and healthy food. Quit smoking! Figure out what a healthy, optimum weight is for you and get there. There are groups out there to help you - Weight Watchers, T.O.P.S., and Metabolic Research, just to name a few. These all work, but they wont come looking for you.

Sadly, I don't see any of this happening on a large scale. So what we're stuck with is more diving deaths, and more wringing of hands about the causes. The Sylvesters and Kellys in our little world will have to continue to fight an uphill battle for access to sites that we all enjoy. We are our own worst enemy and all the preaching we can do probably won't change it. If this pi$$es you off, it's likely because I described you. Maybe you're mad enough to do something about it.

In closing, lest y'all think I'm preaching from a lack of firsthand experience: I'm a former smoker and former obese person. I have to wrestle with this stuff everyday. It's damned hard but it can be done.