Making a splash in Hertfordshire
PUBLISHED: 13:28 12 October 2010 | UPDATED: 15:40 20 February 2013
Louise McEvoy takes the plunge and gives scuba diving a second chance...
WHEN asked if I was interested in taking part in a scuba diving lesson for a feature, my feelings were mixed. I liked the idea of diving but my only experience entailed an hour in a swimming pool being berated for uncontrollably floating to the surface. So it was with a degree of trepidation that I agreed to head along to the Furzefield Centre in Potters Bar to give it another go, and I am so glad I did.
Every year in September British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) branches offer try dives - where you can try using scuba gear in a heated swimming pool - to members of the public in a bid to inspire them to take up diving as a sport. I put myself in the safe hands of Jeff Dixon and Des Arnold - diving instructors at Potters Bar Sub-Aqua Club, which was formed in 1975 and has about 40 members.
Before getting wet I was briefed on how to use the equipment. The buoyancy compensation device (BCD) is a streamlined jacket connected to the air supply and divers inject air into the jacket until they are neither rising nor sinking, but neutrally buoyant.
A demand valve supplies air via a mouthpiece and the regulator is attached to an air cylinder worn on the back.
I was also provided with a 4kg weight belt, a mask, and fins - divers never call them flippers - before getting into the pool. Wearing the mask, I put my face in the water and practised breathing using the demand valve, before holding onto the side and using the fins, moving my legs slowly from the hips.
Next, I completely deflated my BCD until I was lying on the bottom of the pool, before gradually pumping air back into the jacket until I was neutrally buoyant. Eventually I was doing lengths of the pool underwater and it felt so relaxing, listening to nothing but my rhythmical breathing.