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Author: Petr Petrov 
Published in the magazine "Neptune XXI century"

Any association begins with its founding fathers. It is they who, based on their own experience and knowledge, make up training programs, textbooks, standards. They are looked up to, they are admired, because it was they who stood at the very origins of scuba diving. Those principles and theories that are now the norm and have already been tested, they collected bit by bit and tested on their own experience! Thanks to them - the pioneers of diving, we can now enjoy the beauty of the underwater world. But few people know at least something about them. Only their names and the name of the association, which is printed on the card. How they started, who they were - for many remains a mystery. It's a pity. After all, the choice of which system to learn can partly facilitate this information.

Until recently, the abbreviation "IANTD" was familiar to only a few people. As a rule, these were people who were actively interested in scuba diving, moreover, they needed to know English. This occupation became popular with us not so long ago, there was not enough information. And so it worked: a small number of IANTD instructors who discovered this system from foreign literature and trained abroad, and the circle of people in which they moved.

Everyone asks themselves where and how to learn to dive, it is important to have enough information to make the right choice. Therefore, we decided to tell the reader about what exactly is it - IANTD.

Dick Ritkowski

IANTD - International Association of Nitrox Divers (IAND, Inc.) was founded in 1985. Its founder was Dick Rutkowski, who retired after 33 years of federal service with NOAA (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Over the years at NOAA, Rutkowski and his colleague, Dr. Morgan Wells, have developed nitrox diving techniques for NOAA scuba divers and scientific dives. This technique began to be applied in NOAA already in 1970 and has proven itself excellently over 15 years of use. Rutkowski was also the organizer and director of a variety of hyperbaric research and hyperbaric care projects during his 20 years of service at NOAA. Even after retirement, he continued to teach training programs for NOAA, US Navy, US Air Force, NASA, commercial diving companies, and others. He has trained thousands of professionals in areas such as recompression chambers, breathing gases, physics, physiology, pathophysiology, and medical aspects of diving. He also founded Hyperbarics International. Inc. for the purpose of training and consulting in the field of hyperbaric medicine and gas breathing mixtures.

After retirement, Rutkowski decided to use his acquired knowledge and experience in oxygenated mixes and hyperbaric medicine to provide recreational scuba divers with the benefits of nitrox mixes when diving. This is how IANTD was born. The word "Technical" was added to the title only in 1991; the main task of IANTD at that time was teaching nitrox diving and sports-level programs. Thus, IANTD became the first association in the world to teach nitrox diving for amateur scuba divers, and Rutkowski is today considered the man who introduced nitrox into the world of sports diving.

It should be noted that the world community for a long time did not want to accept the concept of nitrox diving. Since until this time these mixtures were used exclusively by military or commercial divers and there was no information about them, the opinion was formed that such dives are very dangerous. The owners of the ships panicked at the sight of scuba divers with cylinders that said "NITROX" and refused to take them on board, calling them suicides and fearing that the cylinder was about to explode. For several years, Rutkowski ran the only center that prepared nitrox mixtures, and he and his colleagues at IANTD had to spend a lot of energy and work in order to change the attitude towards nitrox for the better. By the late 1980s, scuba diving pioneers in the United States were already using nitrox for decompression, but outside this country, the mixture continued to be viewed with skepticism. It wasn't until the mid-90s that other associations (but not all) began to work on nitrox diving training programs.

Tom Mount

In 1991, Rutkowski was joined by Tom Mount, who developed standards and procedures for teaching technical diving. It was from this point that IANTD became known as IANTD, adding the term "Technical" to its name. (The term "Technical diving" appeared for the first time in the magazine aquaCorps, which quite aptly combined under this name diving that went beyond sports in the same year). Tom accepted Rutkowski's offer to become President of IANTD, and since then IANTD has become the first association to provide training in all aspects of technical diving, including Advanced Nitrox, Deep Diving, caves and shipwrecks explorations, Trimix Dives, Rebreathers, and more.

In order to understand the importance of this event, it is enough to say that even in 1992 (a year after the introduction of the IANTS technical programs), an organization such as DAN in its publication Alert Diver still continued to call nitrox an unsafe gas and predicted death and accidents. from its use, and BSAC (British Subaquatic Club), through an article in Diver magazine, prohibited its members from using any breathing mixture except air! In addition, no matter how ridiculous and absurd it may seem today, but in the same 1992 at the largest annual exhibition of manufacturers of diving equipment (DEMA), the organizers forced IANTD to post a sign at their stand, which listed the risks associated with the use of nitrox!
By the time he joined IANTD, Tom Mount had 36 years of scuba diving experience, including active involvement in military, commercial, exploratory diving, saturation diving, development and supervision of saturation diving projects, and recreational diving practice and training. From 1963 to 1968, Tom was the owner of a diving center and a commercial diving company specializing in the installation of underwater communication lines and lifting operations. During the same period, he and three other like-minded people created one of the first certification programs in the United States for cave diving - the National Association of Cave Divers (NACD). From 1968 to 1976, Mount collaborated with the Rosenstein University of Miami School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS). where he was engaged in the development of programs that allowed scientists to make working dives using heliox (helium-oxygen mixtures) to depths of up to 100 meters. In addition, RSMAS was the most active university program involved in saturation diving.

Over the years of his diving career, Tom spent 15 years as a specialist in hyperbaric treatment of scuba divers at RSMAS, in whose pressure chambers at that time most of the victims in South Florida and the Bahamas were treated. He has over 11,000 dives, including over 2,500 cave dives and over 1,200 for wrecks, and is widely regarded as one of the best and most experienced scuba divers in the world.

Patty Mount

From the time Tom and his wife Patti Mount joined, IANTD's activities have taken off. Teaching aids have been created for the technical programs of a variety of sports. The main features of both these manuals and the IANTD teaching philosophy in general are openness and honesty in the presentation of information, a clear indication of risks and ways to reduce them. Limits have been set for sport and technical diving. Nevertheless, there was no kind of taboo (for example: deeper -  impossible, without any explanation). Instead, there was comprehensive information on why not and what can happen if the recommended limits are exceeded.

Over the years, the IANTD literature and standards have periodically undergone changes and additions due to the emergence of new types of equipment and the results of new research. Only a few basic principles of teaching and the philosophy of IANTD have remained unchanged: the quality of the training and the importance that was attached to the scuba diver's attitude to diving. In addition to educational literature, special attention was paid to the training of instructors, since the quality of training that a student receives depends on them. According to the degree of the instructor's competence, an opinion is formed about the association itself; and the fact that the IANTD name today is associated with the highest quality of education suggests that the policy chosen by the founders has paid off.

For 20 years of its existence, IANTD has gained prestige and popularity all over the world. Representative offices have been opened in many countries, and the number of certified scuba divers and instructors continues to grow...