AN INTRODUCTION TO SCUBA DIVING
A change of scenery, calmness, richness, freedom… these are just some of the words used to describe scuba diving. If the depths are calling your name, it might be time to discover a little more about this unusual sport.
A contrast to the excitement of group sports, diving is a physically gentle activity in a brand-new setting. Even better: you get close up and personal with the richness and beauty of the underwater world. Want to learn more about the history of the sport? The equipment you’ll need? Or the rules and regulations you’ll have to follow? In that case, dive right into the rest of this article!
WHAT IS SCUBA DIVING?
In spite of a few million years of evolution, we humans still don’t have fins or even gills. (What a shame.) Still, that hasn’t stopped men and women throughout history from wanting to learn how to breathe underwater. It all started on a Tuesday back in 332 BC, when Alexander the Great himself went underwater, able to breathe with the use of history’s first diving bell. Jules Verne had nothing on him! This rudimentary device resembled a kind of glass barrel, open on the bottom, which created a bubble of air inside when taken under the water. That certainly took a lot of courage in those days! But, since fortune favours the brave, Alexander the Great was able to explore the Mediterranean seabed at a depth of 10m without any trouble at all. Fortunately for the rest of us, we’ve come a long way over the last few centuries thanks to several key technical developments. These days, we can breathe underwater with the use of special and very sophisticated equipment, which consists of a tank of air and a regulator that goes in your mouth. Freediving, however, is something very different from traditional scuba diving. No breathing equipment here: instead, the diver has to rely on holding his or her breath for as long as possible. It’s far riskier, but offers total freedom of movement when compared with other types of diving. You can also try surface diving (snorkeling, in fact) with just the use of a mask and snorkel, so as to breathe air from the surface. Regardless of which type of diving you choose, the goals of recreational diving remain the same: exploring the seabed and contemplating the beauty of the underwater world’s flora and fauna.
SAFETY RULES AND REGULATIONS
When it comes to scuba diving, leisure and pleasure go hand-in-hand! But in order to enjoy yourself without putting yourself in danger, it’s important to follow some simple safety rules. Proper training is required is required when learning how to scuba-dive. There are many clubs and professional scuba diving businesses that are perfect for beginners. Remember: never go diving alone, and always use properly maintained equipment. It really could be a matter of life and death! To avoid suffering from any side effects, your instructors will teach you about maximum recommended depths for your skill level, as well as everything you need to know about decompression stops. Did you know? In the hours following a dive, it’s recommended that you should avoid flying or ascending in altitude. Take note if you’re planning to scuba dive while on vacation!
THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT DIVING
As a discovery sport, the benefits of diving are primarily psychological. Underwater landscapes, the beauty of the marine fauna and flora, the freedom to explore wrecks: diving truly is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. The underwater environment completely envelops you, taking you far away from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life.
What’s more, your muscles can relax as much as your mind, since diving isn’t a very physical sport. However, as with any sport, you will gradually begin to see the benefits in terms of muscle development and greater endurance. Diving on a regular basis will also help you to better control your breathing and manage stress.
Being in good basic physical shape is necessary for diving. If you’re looking to give your fitness a boost, consider swimming, running or mountain biking, all of which are beneficial to cardiovascular and pulmonary health.
IS DIVING FOR ME?
Looking to indulge your sense of adventure without putting too much pressure on your body? Then yes, diving is for you! This gentle sport can be enjoyed anywhere there’s water, although you must be in reasonably good physical shape and know how to swim. Diving isn’t recommended for children below 8, as younger children aren’t physically capable of coping with the demands of diving. Also, it’s recommended that children stay at a maximum depth of 6m, while being accompanied by an accredited instructor.
EQUIPMENT TO BEGIN
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- Mask: as opening your eyes underwater isn’t very pleasant, wearing a mask is essential if you want to see in the water.
- Fins: these enable you to get around underwater.
- Wetsuit: your body will get cold 25 times faster in the water than in the open air. A neoprene wetsuit is therefore recommended for protection against the cold when diving. Its thickness will vary according to the temperature of the water around you.
- Buoyancy control device: a BCD is an essential tool that will help you to manage your buoyancy, provide a place to store your equipment, and keep your air tank in place.
- Regulator: Unless you’re an experienced freediver, you’ll need this essential accessory, which is connected to your tank.
- Safety equipment: surface marker buoy, dive computer, etc.