“How would you like to go on a scuba diving lesson Monday 6th Feb?”
…an odd text to be sending, and I presume receiving, but luckily my friend Kate said yes.
I found the deal on Groupon, which I think is going to be my saviour in my quest to find 52 new things to do. The scuba diving induction was just £28 for two people – bargain!
We both turned up to the London School of Diving not really knowing what to expect. It was in a business park near Gunnersbury station, in what looked like quite a small building up some metal steps (the pool is downstairs, and once you’re down there you realise it wasn’t actually so small after all).
Inside, we were greeted by Evan who was going to be our instructor for the evening. He was an older chap, maybe sixty, from New Zealand and he was wearing shorts and no shoes. In February.
While we were filling in some ‘elf and safety paperwork, a father and daughter turned up, and a couple around the same age as us.
We all sat down and Evan explained to us over the next half an hour or so how all the equipment worked, and what we should do once we were in the pool. It seemed that the main two rules were to breathe normally, and equalise. Equalising was basically popping your ears each time you went deeper into the water. I was getting quite nervous while he was telling us all of this as, whilst he made it sound easy, he did tell us your lungs shrink to the size of a walnut underwater and could pop like a balloon. Similar bursting of eardrums. Excellent.
It was then time to go down to the pool, get changed and hop in. Here we are in our very fetching masks.
Once in the pool we put our jackets on, which you’ll know if you’ve ever been diving are the best jackets ever. There are two buttons on them and you can either puff them right up so you can bob on top of the water, or deflate them so you can go underwater. They go really tight like a blood pressure cuff or a corset when they’re puffed up, it’s a very odd sensation but loads of fun.
We tested out our regulators (the bit you breathe in and out of) by just popping our head underwater. Once we were ok with this we each knelt down one by one in the shallow end. Evan was very good and we did everything in turn with him making sure we were ok, which is why the class is never bigger than six.
Then we all had to sit down underwater on the edge of the deep end, and he took us each for a swim round the bottom of the pool which was 3.2 metres. Once we’d done this we were free to swim!
Honestly, I never would have thought it would be so much fun. It really is very simple once you get used to breathing through your mouth, and it’s brilliant – even in an empty pool!
A lot of people I’ve spoken to have said they are very nervous about it being claustrophobic. I can’t speak for everyone but I know Kate was worried about this, and was absolutely fine. You definitely go through each stage slowly enough that you don’t feel rushed or uncomfortable at any point.
If you ever think you’d like to go diving one day I’d definitely recommend giving this a go. The only problem now is it’s made me really want to book a holiday to test it out!!!
To find out more about the London School of Diving click here.
There doesn’t seem to be an index of places you can learn to dive in a pool, but there is this list of places you can dive in the UK – who knew?!