Essentials of Rec – Side Mount

Join the Side Mount Revolution!

The purpose of the Essentials of Recreational Side Mount Diving class is to familiarize you, the certified diver, with the proper configuration, skills, knowledge, planning, organization, procedures, techniques, problems, solutions and enjoyment of side mounting a single tank for recreational diving.

The course is designed to cross you over to side mount diving at your current recreational level of certification. The certification limitations of the class, once completed, are based on your current level of certification.

The goals of Essentials of Recreational Side Mount Diving training are to:

  • To develop the students’ practical knowledge and understanding of side mounting a single tank while recreational diving.

  • To develop the students’ practical knowledge of the “essential” in-water skills to include:  buoyancy, trim, propulsion, basic 6, s-drills, valve drills, failures, smb deploy, ascent drills, and rescue skills all while side mount diving.

  • To enable the student to setup, organize and safely conduct side mount dives at their current level of recreational certification.


  • Must meet UTD General Course Prerequisites as outlined in Section 1.6

  • Minimum age of 16

  • Completed UTD registration process

  • UTD open water certification, or higher or equivalent

  • Standard gases are used. Nitrox and/or Helium certification required if breathing any gas with higher O2 content than 22% and/or using a helium based mix.

Course Content

This class requires a minimum of eight hours of academics, three hours of dry runs and at least four in-water dives. These must be a combination of demonstration/critical skills and experience dives. Additional training and dives are at the discretion of the instructor and are based on the level of training the student is seeking.

Course Limits

  • General Training Limits as outlined in Section 1.4

  • All dives are to maintain a working PO2 of no greater than 1.4

  • UTD Z-System or similar side mount configuration

  • Instructor to student ratio maximum 6:1 in the class

Online Classroom Courses and Text

  • Online Classroom Materials – Essentials of Side Mount diving

  • Side Mount Recreational Gas Planning Worksheet

  • Essentials of Side Mount Diving DVD is recommended

Academic Topics

  • UTD organization

  • Side Mount Diving Principles

  • Diving proficiency with in water skills

  • Buoyancy control and trim

  • Streamlining and equipment configuration

  • Propulsion techniques

  • Air sharing and valve procedures

  • Situational awareness

  • Communication

  • Gear configuration

  • Breathing gas overview

  • Dive planning and gas management

Land Drills and Topics

  • Dive team protocols

  • Setup and Configuration of the Z-System or equivalent for recreational side mount diving

  • Air sharing drills

  • Equipment fit and function

  • Propulsion techniques

  • Pre-dive drills

Required Dive Skills and Drills

  • All skills and drills as outlined in the general diving skills as outline in Section 1.5

  • All skills requirements of requested crossover level as outlined by UTD Class structure

  • Emergency out of air management

  • Demonstrate the ability to deploy a lift bag/surface marker

  • Demonstrate good buoyancy and trim

  • Demonstrate proficiency with Basic 6 skills while configured in a side mount system

  • Kicking techniques including one that is appropriate for propulsion

  • Familiarization with Side Mount configuration and equipment

Equipment Requirements

Side Mount equipment configuration is designed to be simple and efficient. To get the most from your class it is advisable that you take the course in a complete UTD Side Mount system.

Required Equipment

  • All equipment noted in paragraph 3.0

  • Z-System or equivalent for Side Mount diving