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Friday, 20 October 2017
 
 
Jenny Takes the Plunge - Intrepid reporter Jenny Stallard goes in at the deep end and discovers the Print

Intrepid reporter Jenny Stallard
goes in at the deep end
and discovers the fun of scuba diving

Reprinted from Guilford Times w/e April 21st 2001

SUBA diving is often seen as a glamorous pastime, so when asked to carry out a trial dive I wondered which world famous site I would be sent to for my task -The Great Barrier Reef, Israel, the British Virgin Islands - Guildford Spectrum?

The idea of learning in a swimming pool may put many people off scuba diving, but as I soon found out, no matter where you are, diving is possibly the most relaxing activity you can take part in.

My trial dive was run by Guildford British Sub Aqua Club, and I met my instructor Richard Raap at their clubhouse in the Waterside Centre, where they have been based since June 1972.

The club has 130 members, and was the 53rd club to form in Britain in 1957, so it seems that I am by no means the first to come to the realisation that not all diving takes place in sunnier climes.

The clubhouse was a hive of activity, with arrangements being made for weekend trips, and outside, two huge boats with revving outboards were being washed down in preparation for a dive.

OK, so perhaps I wasn't off to the Caribbean just yet, but this had me a little worried.

But having been reassured that I was not destined for the bottom of the Wey Navigations, I willingly followed to collect my diving equipment.

The main purpose of a trial dive is to give people an idea of what diving is like before they decide to join the club, with an introduction to using equipment and basic underwater skills. Kitted out with fins (flippers to you and me), mask and a tank of compressed air, I set off with Richard to Spectrum.

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On the way I learned a little about the club and its members. Richard said: “Fifty per cent of people join the club after a trial dive. The best thing about it is that anyone can join the club - the whole of society gets involved from mechanics to businessmen. There is quite a misconception that diving is a 'man's sport', but lots of women take part too, and our members are aged between 17 and 75-years-old, and come from Guildford, Farnham, Aldershot, even Basingstoke.”

“People go diving for many different reasons - I like marine biology and filming, other people like looking at wrecks,” he added.

But for me it was to be just the pool for the time being. Once in the water, the weight of the tank almost disappeared, and I learned to inflate my special jacket to help me control my depth. Richard explained other key tricks -cleaning your mask: 'spit in it', and breathing: 'don't forget to breathe!' - and the dive began.

Several trips to the surface later, I realised that buoyancy is a common problem in diving, as intakes of air can cause your body to rise or fall in the water. But a quick exercise soon overcame the problem, which found me lying on the bottom of the pool breathing in and out, rising and falling gently without a care in the world.

Moving underwater without needing to return to the surface is a wonderful experience, even without any coral reefs or dancing rays. Noises disappear, cares float away - you really could stay down there for hours!

Back to reality at the Waterside Centre, I was invited to join the club on a trip from Southsea across the Solent to view shipwrecks, and it was then that I realised there is just one problem with going on a trial dive - you will want to come back for more!

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Trial dives with Guildford BSAC take place every Tuesday night. For more information contact Guildford BSAC reception officer on 01252 691998 or go to www.guildford-bsac.com

Not quite the barrier reef but a good place to start! Mastering the skills of scuba diving on a trial dive with Guildford BSAC at the Spectrum. Above, Jenny gets some tips from instructor Richard Raap, and below enjoys the underwater experience.

 
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