Yesterday I had my introductory course in scuba diving in the London School of Diving. Their initials are LSD but I am not going to comment on that. It was an amazing experience.
We arrived there on our scheduled time. We met our co-students and instructors. Everyone was very friendly and the atmosphere relaxing and fun. There were 5 trainees (3 guys, 2 gals) with two trainers (a guy and a girl). One of the trainers was constantly humming ‘Copacabana’ and was begging us to help her change the tune in her brain.
After signing a list of forms that practically say we will not die on them in the swimming pool, we were briefed on what we would be doing that day. We went through the gear (on land), the hand gestures (you can’t really speak underwater), the change of the water pressure as you go deep, the way to pop your ears and how you shouldn’t really tease the underwater sea life because it can be dangerous (general knowledge since we were meant to dive in a swimming pool). After that, we headed to the changing rooms and the swimming pool.
The room of the swimming pool was amazingly hot. They had set the temperature to around 34 degrees! Maybe they do it to motivate the people to go in the water without complaining. We first tried some masks and fins. You are supposed to suck the air out of the mask to make it stick to your face without holding it or having the straps on. Having a beard made that difficult for me. The trainer suggested putting some Vaseline on it. He commented that using Vaseline would be awkward but it’s the best solution if you don’t want to lose the mustache. I told him that I don’t have a problem doing that, laughing inside that I am not that unfamiliar on using Vaseline (while going running for the nipples, what did you guys think? gosh).
After finding a proper set of masks and fins we all jumped into the swimming pool. The trainers went to each one of us and showed us the gear again while helping us wear it. When everybody was set we simply took our first dive and kneeled on the shallow end of the swimming pool. It felt kind of weird breathing underwater. It didn’t felt that natural at the beginning (at least for me) and I had to think in order to remind myself to breath.
Then the exercises began. We had to remove the regulator under the water and try to retrieve it and start breathing again without of course drowning or drinking half the swimming pool. The first rule of diving is never to hold your breath (water pressure) which means that even if without the air regulator on, you need to slowly exhale all the time because the instructor wants to see bubbles coming out of your mouth. So, the first time I took the regulator out I was slowly doing the previously demonstrated movement of retrieving it while exhaling. I unfortunately ran out of air in the process and slightly panicked because I thought I didn’t have the time to put the regulator back on and start breathing normally so I emerged to the surface slightly out of breath. Having done that, I felt tense and my second exercise didn’t go that well either. I was supposed to allow some water to go into my mask and try to remove it while being underwater. The beard wasn’t helping much. So I wasn’t able to do it perfectly well and I needed to emerge for a second time…
While the instructors were going through these two basic (for them at least) exercises, I managed to calm myself and started again to enjoy the experience of being underwater. I realized how keeping yourself calm can be sometimes challenging but probably life saving. Under normal circumstances in scuba diving, when I am supposed to be deep under water I cannot afford to lose my focus and panic to go back to the surface. I probably need some more practice…
After we were done with all these, we moved to the part of the swimming pool that was much deeper (ok 3 meters deep is not THAT deep but it was enough for the first time). We had a plastic shark, a plastic torpedo, a Frisbee and a hula-hoop to play with! The trainers did everything possible to keep us entertained. I think we stayed in the deep for more than half an hour. We tossed the plastic toys and the Frisbee around and we swam through the hula-hoop. I am proud to say that I successfully manage to remove water from my mask many times without a problem although I didn’t even try to remove my regulator.
After all that, the session was over. It lasted for about 2 hours and I enjoyed it very much. I can’t begin to think how interesting and fun that would be in the sea! I enrolled to do the next part of the course which is spending some more time in the swimming pool, some written exams and a dive in a lake for the exams. After the end of all these I will be ready to start diving in other places of the world!
Trying out diving was something that I always wanted to do but never tried. Needless to say that I mentioned it to my mother the phone later on and I can’t say she’s thrilled with the idea but anyway! I’m very happy to have that box ticked for things I want to try in my life!