Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Giving the Gift of Diving...and Helping Sea-Changers Along the Way.

I am pleased to introduce a guest blog this month written by diver and Sea-Changer supporter, Iain Sharp. Iain got involved in our big fundraising SeaBay sale earlier this year by bidding for and winning a try dive session for some none diver friends. Iain has written a blog about the impact of his eBay purchase and it is great to read about his efforts to introduce others to the underwater world.. A big thanks to Iain for his purchase which raised money for UK marine conservation and great to hear the outcome of his support.

Iain wrote: 
 I have been interested in the work of Sea-Changers ever since I came across them earlier this year as I developed my own scuba-related website www.FiveMetreStop.Com

One of the ways that I was able to support Sea-Changers was via their numerous eBay sales that they ran to raise funds for the organisation. One of the sales that they undertook were some try-a-dive session, via a donation from Diveworld in Sheffield and being Yorkshire based myself, this got me really interested.

My wife and I have known Kathy & Bob since well before we were married and knowing my interest in diving, I’d often talk about my latest adventures, so I persuaded them to come and have a try-a-dive at some point. Sadly, for many reasons, all the previous efforts were thwarted in the past and the Sea-Changers sale seemed the perfect opportunity to finally get them to encounter the underwater world. I not only won a session for Kathy & Bob, but also the opportunity for their children Ruby and Arthur too.

Dates for the session were arranged with the Diveworld and they even allowed permission for me to sit at the bottom of the pool and ‘keep an eye’ on my friends.

Naturally, in the run up to the session, I tried to answer as many questions as I could to satisfy their curiosity, whilst not wanting to spoil the experience too much.

“What will it be like down there ?”
“Will it hurt ?”
“Will I get ‘the bends’ ?”

Upon arriving at the pool, in the suburbs just to the south of Sheffield, we all checked in. Whilst I have taught people to dive in the past, I wanted to give DIveworld enough space and latitude to conduct their own session without interruption.On the poolside, they gave Kathy, Bob and Ruby a briefing on the Discover Scuba session they were about to undertake and also made some arrangement for Arthur, who was too young to undergo the full programme.

The swimming pool session was an excellent opportunity for my to test some of my own equipment and an excellent excuse for me to assemble my kit well away from my friends briefing. After sorting out wetsuits, masks and other equipment for the whole group and ensuring that any last questions had been answered, it was time to get everyone in to the water. The instructors and dive masters with the school were really professional and ensured that everyone had the correct kit on, it was fitted properly and that they were ready for the session.

Then came the moment that anyone who has tried scuba diving will never forget, watching in turn as Bob, Ruby and Kathy popped their heads face down in the water and drew a breath from their regulator. Seeing and breathing underwater, without surfacing in a coughing panic for the first time is an eye-widening experience. It’s a fantastic experience and one I never tire of watching in learners. My friends were no exception, The session progressed by getting the small group to swim in the shallow part of the pool and experience the weightlessness that scuba diving brings you, neutrally buoyant so you neither float or sink in even that shallow part of the pool. The instructor formed a small semi-circle on the bottom of the pool and then proceeded to give a clear demonstration of what they wanted the group to do in turn. The first was to take the regulator out of the mouth and blow bubbles under the water, before replacing the mouthpiece and thanks to the clear demonstration, this is exactly what the entire group did.

The final part of the session was an exercise putting water to the mask and clearing it again. After a demonstration, the group had a go with varying degrees of success, but after teaching this skill myself, the reactions were not unexpected. The great thing is that by the end of the exercise, everyone had completed the task successfully.

Like many dives, time flew by and it was soon time to finish the session. Whist I was watching a short distance away, this was now time for me to swim over and see how my friends were feeling. Their eyes and reactions said it all afterwards and they were genuinely ‘blown away’ by the experience.

“That was amazing
“Fantastic ,,,,”

One final point, whilst little Arthur was unable to participate in the full session due to his age, the Dive School ensured that he had a great time with a mask and snorkel on in the pool
Both splashing away and watching what was going on under the water too and of course, just as soon as he is old enough, he wants to try scuba diving too.

Whilst I had fielded some questions before the session from my friends, there were plenty more questions afterwards as we were getting changed about what the next steps might be and they all seem keen about taking one of the numerous basic open water diver courses out there, at some point in the future.

They thanked me at the end of the session before heading home, but the real thanks should go to Sea-Changers for putting the eBay sale together in the first place and also to Diveworld Dive School for both donating the session to Sea-Changers in the first place and their professional efforts in briefing then teaching my friends first (hopefully of many ?) under water experiences. 

If you run a dive business checkout our website for lots of ideas about how you can get involved and help to raise vital funds for UK marine conservation projects.eBay is also a really easy way to raise money for Sea-Changers. If you buy or sell on eBay you can help us - just click here for more details.

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