Learning To Dive With The Scuba Trust

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Learning To Dive With The Scuba Trust
by Ann Buckle

A conversation with a physiotherapist, who had seen a quadriplegic diving whilst being towed by an able-bodied companion, led me to put ‘disability’ and ‘scuba diving’ into a search engine and the Scuba Trust came up.

This led to my having a try-dive with them in November 2003 and coming out of the water with a huge grin on my face and the feeling that this was something that I really wanted to do. Getting out of the wheelchair which M S has put me into, felt wonderful!

I promptly signed up for the IAHD (International Association of Handicapped Divers) Open Water Course (the Scuba Trust teach both the PADI and IAHD system). I started to learn from one of their instructors how to use scuba equipment safely. The IAHD system, which puts two qualified divers in the water with you and your instructor, lets you learn in a very safe environment.

I have difficulty with maintaining a stable position in the water as my legs contribute absolutely nothing to my efforts and I tend to roll about a bit. I was so impressed by the time and trouble that the Instructor took taken to weight me, so that this tendency to roll around was minimised and made my time underwater so much more comfortable.

Having completed the pool work, knowledge reviews and exams, I went to Sharm El Sheik on a holiday organised by the Scuba Trust to do the open water dives. This was just amazing, the undersea environment is so beautiful and complex and I’m sure I was so enthralled with it, that I forgot to use most of the skills that I had learned in the pool! Once again the presence of an IAHD instructor and two qualified divers meant that I enjoyed my dive, safe in the knowledge of their presence and leaving the water with my eardrums intact, without running out of air, without getting hopelessly lost, and without trashing any reefs or scaring the local inhabitants too much!

By the end of the holiday I was feeling far more secure underwater although I don’t think the excitement of being under water will ever go away. My weighting had been fine tuned so that I was more stable underwater, I had started to learn to control my buoyancy by breathing rather than letting air in and out of my BCD. Having my IAHD Instructor patiently demonstrate and explain techniques until I gained confidence, set me nicely on the way to becoming less of a yo-yo diver although it’ll be ages before I’m satisfied with my control.

Having gained the IAHD Open Water Diver qualification I found that I wanted to learn more and so signed up for the Adventure Diving Course. Having completed the Knowledge Reviews for all the different types of diving experience on offer I was able to make the necessary dives on another Scuba Trust trip to Hurghada, in October this year. The dives chosen for my Adventure Diver course included Boat Dive, a Fish Aware Dive, a Deep Dive, a Navigation Dive and a Drift Dive. As an extra bonus a Wreck Dive was also made. The IAHD instructor explained what we were trying to achieve before each dive and went over individual points of the dive in a de-briefing. I found this invaluable as I now have a much greater awareness of what I need to achieve to be a good, safe and eco-friendly diver.

Now I’ve become an IAHD Advanced Open Water diver I’m getting more and more determined to get better and better at this sport. The whole underwater experience is so rich and rewarding that if I could go back in time and start a new career I think I’d become a marine biologist. The IAHD and the Scuba Trust can take the credit for providing me with a true life-enhancing experience.

Copyright 2005 Ann (Yo-Yo) Buckle – Member of the Scuba Trust

The Scuba Trust is a non-profit making charity promoting scuba diving for all abilities. It was founded in 1996 with the initial aim of helping disabled people learn to dive and snorkel and acting as a focal point for the organisation of scuba diving holidays abroad for people with disabilities. It has now grown into one of the UK's leading dive organisations and helps individuals with disabilities (and their friends) learn to scuba dive.

The Scuba Trust holds introduction to diving sessions in an indoor swimming pool, supervised by a volunteer team of dive professionals. These dive sessions have been designed to cater for most disabilities but are also open to the able-bodied, creating a non-prejudiced atmosphere. The Trust also organises regular holidays specifically targeted to meet the needs of the disabled community with regards to hotel accommodation and diving facilities.

The Scuba Trust hold monthly ‘try-dive’ sessions for a variety of disabilities, for further information on the Scuba Trust please visit www.scubatrust.org.uk

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