Scuba diving was something I had been tempted to do for years and finally I was offered the exciting opportunity to take a taster course.
Though a little nervous, the adventure of trying out Scuba diving turned out to be a thrilling experience.
After an informative and informal chat at Lisburn Leisureplex with Gerry Allen, I was eager to learn what it would be like to plunge several feet below water relying only on a tank of oxygen.
However, though full of trepidation having watched too many movies, I realised very quickly I as in good hands with Roisin Maguire.
An experienced diver, Roisin was also very understanding as well as watchful as I took baby sets in the shallow end trying to get the hang of the breathing.
It is a rare feeling and clearly it is not natural for human beings to delve into deep waters.
However after just 5-10 minutes practising I was kneeling at the bottom of the pool breathing ‘normally’ through a ‘DV’ or ‘Demand Valve’.
It is like a mouth piece with a pipe on the end which connects to a tank of compressed air. As you breath it delivers air into your lungs normally.
I had fears of feeling somewhat claustrophobic with a tight mask over my eyes and nose and breathing apparatus keeping me alive but after about ten minutes of practise it became quite easy.
Indeed after 15-20 minutes I was swimming (with the trusty Roisin at my side) down the length of the pool almost to its base and then onto the deep end.
There was lots of practice inflating and deflating my life jacket to get used to different buoyancy and manoeuvring around at different depths.
Finally we plunged into the large and very deep dive pool but by that stage I was feeling a lot more confident due to the diligent training of Roisin.
Soon with the help of waist weights we were at the bottom of the pool down more than four metres.
With another bit of practise of getting up to the top and down to the bottom we were off playing games near the floor of the pool.
Firing a playful plastic torpedo at each other, it was like a game of fetch and soon I forgot that I was relying on the aid of a tank of air and felt nimble swimming around reaching for the mini toy torpedo.
A thoroughly enjoyable experience and I have every hope of taking it up as a full time hobby.
Indeed the thrill of Scuba Diving can been experienced by most people with a strong BSAC Ireland base here overseeing the top clubs.
A Try Dive held last Thursday night (May 12) was well subscribed and is a fantastic and fun way to try SCUBA diving for the first time and learn the basics.
Lisburn Sub Aqua Club (LSAC) based in Lisburn is a branch of the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) and has been training divers for over 45 years.
These taster sessions are part of a national campaign called ‘Flow – Get into Watersports’ which is co-funded by The Erasmus Plus programme of the European Union and is a partnership between SportNI and a range of water based National Governing Bodies with the aim of encouraging more people to participate in watersports.
After a number of taster events there will be a series of training programmes to encourage people to continue in their chosen activity. So even if you can’t attend the taster events you can still get involved by taking part in one of the follow up training programmes that are taking place.
SportNI is one of the leading organisations behind the initiative and their Outdoor Recreation Development Officer, Mike McClure, believes it is a great way for people to get into a water sport and to eventually join a club by commenting “Flow is a wonderful way for people to experience the great natural water resources we have here in Northern Ireland and hopefully by taking part in this campaign it will help develop favourite past-times that participants will take part in for many years to come”.
Visit www.FlowNI.com to see a full list of taster events and follow up training programmes that are being offered as part of the campaign to get you flowing into your next adventure!
For more information on how to join in check out the following websites