Times Series chief reporter Chris Hewett is training to become a British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) diver.
He will be recording his progress with the instructors from the Potters Bar Sub Aqua Club at the Furzefield Leisure Centre in a series of regular blogs.
It was a taster session several weeks back that first gave me the appetite to train to become a qualified scuba diver.
The members at the Potters Bar club were more than supportive in signing me up and talking me through what the next ten weeks or so will involve.
The course is available to absolute beginners – with all equipment available for monthly hire from the club – and before I knew it I was a signed up member of the BSAC Association (the British equivalent of the more widely known PADI Association) and getting ready to take part in my first official swimming pool dive.
The course consists of roughly seven weeks in the pool, depending on an individual’s progress, as well as a series of theory lessons followed by a multiple choice exam.
Divers earn their qualification with a final series of open water dives at locations in either Swanage or Stevenage.
But that is currently some way off for me. The first sessions are all about getting comfortable with the equipment in the water. I was quickly expected to learn to set up my own air tank and regulator (breathing apparatus) as well as carry out a series of safety checks on my gear.
I was apprehensive about learning in a swimming pool – it often looked to me to be the less adventurous option compared with jumping off a boat in an exotic, sunny location - but my surroundings were immediately forgotten as I was taken through a series of basic underwater exercises.
If you’ll excuse the pun, the experienced instructors quickly threw me in at the deep end, and I was removing my regulator underwater, taking off and replacing my mask, and carrying out a safety rescue all inside the first session.
They tell me so far I’m doing well. The course has been challenging and good fun, and every session is followed by a beer in the club over the road. So even if they are lying – at least we can all go for a pint afterwards.
Anyone interested in taking part in a taster dive or signing up to the BSAC course can telephone diving officer Jeff Dixon on 07511380386 or email firstname.lastname@example.org