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Take the plunge: my try-dive with York’s Sub-Aqua Club

Photo Credit: YUSAC

Ever dreamed of diving amongst exotic sea life and the colourful fauna underwater? Wanted to tick one of those aspirational goals on your bucket list? Simply fancied trying something different whilst at university? Sub-Aqua is a wonderful experience both for complete beginners, like myself, and experienced divers, training for their BSAC qualifications. A great way to meet an incredibly friendly group of students.

The University of York’s Sub-Aqua Club (YUSAC) were generous enough to invite me to a try-dive on 13th October 2016. The society provides all kit- Buoyancy Control Devices (BCDs- the diving harness that holds your oxygen tank), oxygen tanks, regulators, fins, masks etc. You only have to bring a swimming costume and a towel. Kerry, a University of York graduate and my diving instructor, demonstrated how to assemble all of the kit and explained how and why everything worked. For instance, I had to spit into my mask in order to stop them from fogging up underwater. Buy your own mask if you want to take this hobby further! We then tossed the scuba kit into the pool and I learnt how to inflate and deflate the BCD so as to rise and sink in the water. I learnt how to breathe through the regulator which, despite my earlier consternations, was surprisingly easy! Top tip: breathe normally but deeply and it will feel completely natural.

However, my lack of coordination due to the weight of the scuba gear and the additional dimensions of the fins resulted in me ironically resembling a fish out of water. A seemingly simple manoeuvre of sinking vertically to one’s knees resulted in an exorbitant amount of flapping and ultimately I was lying at the bottom of the pool staring into the disbelieving yet bemused eyes of Kerry. Despite this clumsiness, once actually progressing to swimming, the fins and breathing came naturally. We initially experimented with inflating and deflating the BCDs to compensate for water pressure but once mastering the simple technicalities of the BCD, diving was easily one of the most enjoyable experiences.

Kerry and I swam around the pool and I couldn’t help but understand how exhilarating and wondrous exploring the clear blue open waters of Lanzarote, for instance, would be. To explore the sea fauna; to happen upon exotic fish, turtles, jellyfish; I could only imagine the experiences open-water diving holds for the intrepid diver. Meanwhile back in the somewhat frustrating confines of an indoor swimming pool, we fooled around. We yawned whilst lazily paddling backwards on our backs; we pretended to be mermaids and in all honesty, I felt like a mermaid gliding through the water with ease! Kerry introduced a small weighted hula hoop in which we went through, around, above, below! The whole experience was such fun: I couldn’t help but smile and then smile some more. Unfortunately, smiling whilst using the regulator can result in breathing in water: another tip for beginner divers!

The prospect of diving in an exotic location following a fun but confined try dive is another perk within the society. The club annually holds open-water diving to complete BSAC training in sunny Lanzarote, as pictured above. Whilst at the try-dive, the instructors mentioned their various open-water trips: meeting whale-sharks; fighting seals off their fins; the distinctions of hand-signs between cuttlefish and octopus. It’s clear that the trips are lifetime experiences and one that, hopefully, I can partake in myself.

The University of York Sub-Aqua Club holds weekly sessions every Thursday evenings and hold try-dives throughout October.