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Diving deep with Bexley Sub Aqua

PUBLISHED: 09:30 30 November 2012

Bexley Sub Aqua Club member Mark Carroll in the Red Sea

Bexley Sub Aqua Club member Mark Carroll in the Red Sea

Archant

The wonders of the deep sea and oceans have long been an attraction for people with their exotic fish and picturesque corals.

Reporter Robin Cottle with instructor Simon SmithReporter Robin Cottle with instructor Simon Smith

My foray into the world of scuba diving started in the slightly less exotic surroundings of a swimming pool in Sidcup but my instructor Simon Smith assured me that everyone has to start somewhere.

As with trying anything for the first time, this was a nervy experience.

The pool may have only been 7ft deep but staying submerged at the bottom was an unusual experience.

I had taken up an offer from Bexley Sub-Aqua Club to do a “try dive” at Parkwood Leisure Centre in Sidcup.

It is recommended that anyone interested in taking up scuba diving does a pool dive before trying one in the open water.

“The most important thing is making sure that all of the kit fits and works and you remember all the signals,” explained Simon, who has worked at the club for 18 years.

“When you’re deep underwater the signals will become very important. I always recommend starting in swimming pools before going on to lakes and beyond.

“You also need to proportion your weight while you’re in the water to stop your body going all over the place.”

As a first-time diver the hardest part was resisting the temptation to breathe faster than normal through the mouth piece.

After an hour of feeling uneasy, I got the hang of it and swam serenely at the bottom of the pool.

Simon admits the sensation of spending a significant period of time underwater can take some getting used to but it is definitely worth it in the long run.

“You can see some amazing things. We’ve been to the depths of the Red Sea of the coast of Egypt and that was quite an experience.

“The marine life and coral were both exceptional.”

Chairman Roger Wallace, who has been with the club for six years, thinks it has such a community feel because most of the members are local to Bexley.

“We’ve got quite a wide age range and we’re finding more women are getting involved. It’s probably because of the Olympics and seeing female sporting role models.

“I go on about 20 to 25 dives a year and it’s turned into quite a hobby. This has always been a very social club and this is what I like about it.”

The club has a stall at the Danson Festival every summer.

Young people can try out diving with all the apparatus in an inflatable pool in the hope that they will join the club when they are a little older.

Despite my initial trepidation, I did enjoy my first plunge. While the next destination probably won’t be the Red Sea, I would not discount descending into a lake sometime in the near future.

After all, Simon said I did very well for a first-timer!

The club meets every Tuesday at Parkwood Leisure Centre at 8pm. It also arranges various trips both in Britain and abroad and takes on all abilities.

Membership is £311 for the first year, which includes an ocean diver course and training equipment, and £150 a year after that.

More information at www.bexleysubaqua.co.uk or call Roger on 07866 528355

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