SPRINGTIME is generally time to try something new.
Scuba diving might not be at the top of everyone’s bucket list for new activities, but Observer reporter Aaron Wise was recently thrown in at the deep end with Redditch Sub Aqua Club to find out why the ‘extreme’ sport is actually making waves with more people than you may think.
“I now want you to take out your regulator (breathing apparatus) and let almost all the air out of your lungs before putting it back in,” are words you probably would not expect to be told when you are underwater.
I am taking part in a ‘try dive’ at the town’s Abbey Stadium Sports Centre, and have just been told by Terry Langford, a British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) advanced instructor, to take out my sole means of receiving oxygen while at the bottom of the pool during my one-hour taster session.
I had been snorkeling before, but never thought I would find myself in such an alien environment. If I am honest I did not have much knowledge on the sport or how and where I could take part, so when I was invited by Redditch Sub-Aqua Club, whose members are celebrating 50 years of underwater exploration this year, I jumped at the chance to make a splash.
On arrival, I greeted club members old and new and given a health and safety briefing before being given the OK to put on the scuba diving equipment, which consisted of a mask, regulator, air gauge, tank, fins and weight system.
Unable to find a pair of fins to fit, Terry, who celebrates his 70th birthday this year, handed me his and before I went in as she did so telling me the fins had been to the Arctic Circle, Australia and everywhere in between.
Once in the water, the nerves floated away as I took part in an array of activities and challenges, including learning the sign language divers use, how to correctly use the scuba equipment and, of course, how to dive to the pool floor and stay there without the need to come back up.
Overall, the sensation of being weightless and able to breath underwater was a pretty surreal experience. The hour flew by as I was literally so immersed in the underwater experience of an empty pool – I can only begin to imagine what it must be like in the deep depths of the ocean surrounded by coral reefs, shipwrecks and tropical fish.
For anyone looking to try something new this spring, I would certainly recommend taking part in a try dive, and with friendly BSAC members to help you every step of the way, it could not be easier to get involved.
BSAC is the national governing body for scuba diving and is made up of 120 dive centres and more than 900 family friendly and sociable clubs, run by volunteers throughout the UK.
Redditch Sub-Aqua Club trains every Tuesday at Abbey Stadium Sports Centre and try dives for people keen to give the sport a go can easily be arranged.
Clubs across Worcestershire also include Evesham Sub-Aqua Club, Worcester Divers and Mercian Divers.
Visit www.bsac.com for more information on joining a club.