By Anna Kennett>

People sometimes describe things as being as easy as breathing. Well, they probably don’t mean whilst scuba diving. My boyfriend and I were invited along to a try-dive session with a his friend Rob at a local swimming pool. I’ve done snorkling before and love swimming so I couldn’t wait to try it.

We changed into our gear and met Rob on the poolside, who was carrying a lot of scary-looking breathing apparatus. All of the try-dive’s were collected together and given an explination of Scuba. SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus... I think! Next we were given the grand tour of our Scuba gear - regulator, spare airline, buoyancy control buttons, masks and fins (not flippers, they are just for dolphins). Still feeling pretty confident I tried to commit to memory which bit was going to keep me alive and which button was for up and down. Then we were taught some basic diving communications - okay? okay!, swim, kneel, go up, go down, watch me and so on. By this point I realised that I’d failed to commit to memory which button did what! We were split off with our instructors and helped into our gear. Getting over the amusement of how silly everyone looked in their masks we were lowered into the pool and told to put our faces in the water to get used to breathing.

The first proper descent underwater was a bit uncomfortable. There were so many things to think about, first and most important was to breathe in, through your mouth (which sounds obvious but it isn’t always the first thing you try to do), when everything in your head is telling you that you can’t breathe underwater. Secondly you have to breathe out, again through your mouth or else the seal that welds your mask to your face will breach and fill with chlorine-water. Oh and you could’t hold your breath because Rob had informed us that our lungs would explode. Right, okay up to now I thought - breathe in, breathe out and repeat... got it! Pushing the button to deflate our jackets we descended to the bottom of the pool. It took me a few moments but as I relaxed into this new sub-aqua situation it became more comfortable and I started to enjoy myself.

We went for a bit of a swim and had a go at achieving buoyant equilibrium where you keep yourself at a constant depth underwater. Then Rob decided we were ok learn what to do if our regulator got knocked out of our mouths, and how to empty our masks of water whilst still under the surface. I got a bit over-enthusiastic at this point and tried to follow what Rob was demonstrating too soon. The result was a lung full of pool water and a quick resurface to sort myself out, coughing and spluttering. Having reminded myself that breathing underwater only works with the mouthpiece we took a swim to the deep end to explore some of the flora and fauna lurking in the depths (nice!). Sadly my ears didn’t cope so well with the deeper water so we moved back to the shallows to practice hovering at 45 degrees to the bottom of the pool. Rob sat cross-legged like a pixie and floated a foot off the bottom which, having tried to copy him we found this to be quite a difficult thing to achieve. After a quick photograph and one last somersault to ensure our noses were properly full of water we left the pool for a hot shower and a bag of left over mini eggs.

Scuba was very different to normal swimming underwater and it took a while to get used to using buttons to control movement rather than physical actions. I understood how people could feel claustrophobic in the gear and how diving in a massive expanse of ocean would be pretty daunting the first time. We really enjoyed the experience and I would recommend Scuba to anyone who gets a chance to try it out. Big thanks to Rob for taking us! Hopefully I’ll get to try Scuba again and maybe next time with some nicer flora and fauna around!

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