Frequently Asked Questions

We can!

Although not classed as a "dangerous" or "extreme" sport, diving is an adventurous sport and you do need to ensure that you are with a properly qualified instructor - it's not something to attempt on your own!

There are several: BSAC, IANTD, NAUI, PADI, SAA, SSAC, SSI and TDI are all agencies teaching diving in the UK but for most people it comes down to a choice of learning to dive in a commercial diving school or learning to dive with a club. Of the above agencies, BSAC alone offers its qualifications through both clubs and schools. Guildford Sub-Aqua Club offers club based training.
The British Sub Aqua Club was founded in 1953 and was officially recognised by the Sports Council as the UK governing body for the sport in 1958. BSAC has become the largest diving club in the world with a membership of 55,000 in some 1,250 branches with 200 schools in over 50 countries around the world.
Although both types of organisation can teach you to dive safely there are some differences between the two. The fundamental difference is that in a club based organisation, you join the club and qualified members of the club teach you to dive. Typically you will pay to join a club and not for the training you receive, which is included in the membership fees.Schools are a commercial organisation, you find a supplier running diving courses(typically dive shops have a training element) and pay a fee to take a course.

Learning to dive with a club has many advantages:

  • All training is performed by fully qualified instructors who are doing the training because they enjoy it (you get the benefit of that enthusiasm.)
  • Because there are no commercial constraints and time limits, training can be performed at your pace; if you need a bit longer to perfect a skill then it really isn’t a problem.
  • You've immediately put yourself in touch with a lot of other people who enjoy diving you have friends to take you diving when you have qualified
  • If you wish to progress through the diving grades then it is often the cheapest way to learn to dive.You pay for membership of the branch of the club, this is typically a payment for use and upkeep of the clubs equipment the training element is free.The more training you undertake, the more you benefit.

The school system suits some people better, and some of the advantages of this system are listed below:

  • Course are often quicker running intensively over a couple of week-ends.
  • You may find it easier to get a course at the time you want when you want. (Many clubs will only start an entry level course two or three times a year).
  • Because you are paying for the privilege, you will not be expected to "pitch in" to any great level in a club upkeep of equipment (including the boats) is the responsibility of all the members

Training from either type of organisation follows a broadly similar pattern, the entry level course will consist of three elements:

  • Theory
  • Confined water training (skills practice in a swimming pool)
  • Open water training (further training in a lake or the sea)

The entry level qualification for BSAC is "Ocean Diver". This qualifies you to dive to a depth of 20m. Further BSAC qualifications are "Sports Diver", "Dive Leader", "Advanced Diver" and "First Class Diver". There is a parallel set of instructor qualifications. The depth to which you are qualified to dive increases with diver grade.

The entry level qualification for PADI (an example of a school) is "Open Water" which qualifies you to dive to 18m. Further PADI qualifications are "Advanced Open Water", "Rescue" and "Dive Master". PADI also run courses in specialities such as underwater photography.

Yes. The qualifications of the above organisations are recognised and respected around the world.
School courses vary in length and you should contact the dive centre for details. Within Guildford Sub-Aqua Club we provide training for theory and confined water in parallel, one evening a week.There are 8 theory lectures followed by an exam and 6 practical lessons followed by an assessment.Depending on the individual the practical lessons often take a bit longer to complete and the average time for the first phase of the course is 10 - 12 weeks. There are 6 open water dives which need to be completed including the final assessment.Typically these will take 3 trips to complete.
Theory lectures are held at our club house (The Waterside Centre), there is a map on the web page. Confined water training takes place at a swimming pool. Much open water training takes place in lakes typically at either Wraysbury (Middlesex) Vobster Quay (Somerset) or Stoney Cove (Leicestershire). Later training dives may take place in the sea on appropriate club trips.
You should be in a good state of health but do not need to be a superman or superwoman! There is a medical to be passed before starting a course. This takes the form of a self-certification form, in the first instance, provided the questions are answered satisfactorily there is no need to do anything more. Occasionally the answers you give may require you to go and see a medical referee to clarify a condition before diving can start. There is a swimming test at the beginning of the course. This consists of swimming 200m within a limited time period, but again we are looking for basic competence here not Olympic class speed!
To train with the BSAC you need to be at least 12 years of age. Within our branch we also vet applications from under eighteens, typically these are accepted for people who have a relative in the club or are known to a member willing to take responsibility for them.
Whichever organisation you learn with, the entry level qualification will enable you to dive safely (albeit with some limitations placed on depth and conditions). For some people this is enough, others wish to go on training and will take further qualifications. One of the advantages of the club system is that now you are qualified to dive you already have a means to go diving through trips organised by the club, and a group of like-minded people who you will have come to know. You can also organise your own diving through commercial operators.
Initially, if you dive with Guildford Sub-Aqua Club none! We provide you with all the kit you will need for the first stages of training. The one item we cannot provide (for open water training) is a wet or dry suit. These can be hired from various outlets. Often people buy the basics pieces of kit (Snorkel, Mask and Fins) in the early stages of training. Once training has finished you can continue to hire kit, buy your own, or most likely buy it in stages.
Diving can be an expensive sport, but like a lot of things the amount you spend is largely dependent upon you. A full set of kit (including a dry suit) would cost around £1500 if bought from new you could spend much more than this though if you wanted, The good news is that there is a thriving second hand market (equipment is often for sale within the club) and this is a much cheaper alternative. As an example a £300 dive jacket (BCD) will often be found for £50 within the club. Most people also buy their kit steadily rather than in one go. One of the lectures deals with equipment and what you need, options for purchasing will be discussed. If you only ever intend to dive occasionally on holiday then you may well not wish to buy any equipment, holiday dive centres will always be able to hire you equipment.