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Big Blue award winners
big-blue-barWe're all pretty tired at Big Blue at the moment. Not because, you know, we work hard or anything like that. We're tired because we've been hosting some dignitaries. We even had to get the best china out to impress them. No it wasn't Bill Wyman looking for a new wife, or Tony Blair hoping to start a war between the dive schools (and then get a job as an ambassador for peace). It was the top brass from SSI worldwide. They were here on a two-pronged mission; to talk about the future of SSI after its aquisition by Mares last year, and also to recognise and award individuals and dive schools that have excelled in their training of SSI divers over the years. 
A few nights ago they held an event at the Big Blue bar, which was an excuse to provide Big Blue staff with free beer. They also honoured the boss, Jim, by awarding him the Platinum Pro 5,000 diver award- the highest SSI diving certification available. So he joins the ranks of Jacque Cousteau, who also received the award, in basically becoming a human fish. A hufish if we want to be taxonomically accurate. But that was nothing special compared with the free SSI beach towel he received. He also won the informal "sweatiest man of the evening" award, overtaking instructor trainer Simmo by a hair's breadth. Anyway, a good night was had by all, even though the free bar lasted for about 10 minutes. 
But just when we all thought we could get back to reality, we had a SSI conference two days ago. It was held at a fancy resort in Mae Hadd, with no expense spared (apart from the buffet). A few dive schools received awards, but Big Blue basically stole the evening. Instructor trainer Simmo won an award for certifying 500 instructors. Let me explain that in a little more detail. Since working at Big Blue, Simmo has taught over 500 hundred people to become SSI dive instructors- a phenomenal achievement. Big Blue Freediving also won an award for having certified over 100 people in their first year of operation, and divemaster mentor Nick "sloth" Bufton won an award for having certified 1,000 divers! That's 1,000 people that had never been underwater, who are now able to enjoy scuba diving! Again, an incredible achievement. 
The buffet however, was far from incredible. The spring rolls and onion rings ran out in about 30 seconds, so they went with their back-up plan of providing about 12 tonnes of crisps, which was great but the plates we had were essentially teacup saucer-sized; a disaster in finger food terms. 
SSI showed us some exciting developments that are in the pipeline. In a nutshell everything is going digital. You will be able to do your SSI open water academics on a tablet or smartphone app, and it'll hopefully be available at the end of this year. That will make the course a little easier to do seeing as everyone is pretty much living in the internet nowadays. Not sure how instructor Neil will adapt to this change though, he still uses a feather and ink to write his letters as far as i'm aware. There will hopefully also be some news forthcoming with Big Blue being able to offer SSI technical diving courses. Whatch this space.
So in conclusion, Big Blue is THE most successful, forward-thinking SSI dive resort in the world- fact. We have some incredible dive professionals here, and we have the awards to prove it. So you know there is only one place on Koh Tao that you need to come to, to learn how to dive, take your diving further, fun dive, or freedive. So get booking online now!

SSI facts
Seeing as we've just hosted the top brass from SSI, it seems only fitting to provide a bit of background information on the fastest growing diving agency in the world:

- Started in 1970, SSI has expanded to include more than 30 Service Centers, is represented in more than 110 countries with over 2.500 International locations, and has materials printed in more than 30 languages.
- Since June 1, 2010, Scuba Schools International is one of the few training agencies who qualified for a Global ISO Certification.
- SSI is a founding member of the RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council) and is present in all major national committees to ensure that the diving community´s interests are been taken care of.
- For more than 40 years, SSI has provided training, scuba diving certification, and educational resources for divers, dive instructors, dive centers and resorts around the world.
- On the open water course, the skills that you need to learn can be done in a way that is more flexible for both the student and the instructor. Other dive agencies are less flexible, which is not great for people that learn at different speeds and in different ways.
- International Headquarters is where the important standardization of SSI diving certification and education happens. This is where SSI Training Standards are written, and where the skills and techniques for SSI courses are created. This is also where we produce educational materials and, with the help of our Service Centers, translate them into many languages.
- SSI Dive Centers and Dive Resorts are professional businesses, that operate a scuba diving or freediving school for diver and dive professional training, as well as provide a variety of diving holidays, both local and destination for their customers. This network of Dive Centers and Dive Resorts around the world, where you can learn how to scuba- or freedive or further your diving education and experience, is extensive.
- SSI offers internationally recognized Scuba training programs for all levels - starting with Snorkeling and entry level diving courses up to Instructor Certifiers. The most common programs are: SSI Open Water Diver (OWD), Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD), more than 30 different specialty courses (like EAN Nitrox, Deep diving, Underwater navigation, Night diving and Limited Visibility, and many more). Dive leader training programs start with the Dive Control Specialist (who is qualified like Assistant Instructor) followed by Open Water Instructor and above.
- SSI's training program for children aged 8–12 years is called Scuba Rangers.
- The Training Program for technical Divers is called TechXR (Technical Extended Range) and includes decompression diving, trimix and other courses that exceed the limit for recreational divers.
- SSI Scuba Training programs are certified/recognized throughout the world (such as RSTC - Recreational Scuba Training Council, EUF - European Underwater Federation, CUA - China Underwater Association and others).
- SSI certified more open water divers in Australia in 2013 than PADI did.


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Read 1452 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:24