Scuba diving is the act of going diving with a set of apparatus that allows the individual to breathe underwater. The modern equipment as we know it was invented in 1943 by Jacques Cousteau but the development of the idea goes back hundreds of years to Leonardo da Vinci. Before scuba sets, people could only explore underwater for as long as they could hold their breath!
Diving is widely available to all ages and abilities. It is greatly suited to children with a heightened curiosity and a keen sense of adventure and can lead to the opportunity to see some amazing things. Your fish tank, the local aquarium and The Discovery Channel can teach your child a lot about life underwater but to see the ocean scene first hand is an amazing, unrivalled, learning opportunity. How else could you see a sunken ship? Learning the history of the wreck you have actually dived at would be much more exciting than an ordinary history lesson! How often do you get the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with marine life? Biology lessons don’t get much better than this!!
Scuba diving can create lots of opportunities for adventure and gaining a qualification opens up a variety of career paths. Divers are needed for marine conservation and fish farming if zoology or aquaculture is in your child’s interests. Divers are required in the army, the navy and even the police if security is on your child’s agenda or if geology is your child’s preferred subject, many oil companies recruit divers to check out the sites for the rigging. Of course they could become a scuba diving instructor themselves!
Teachers will help build a child’s confidence in what is initially a very alien environment. In fact, the whole family can get involved as scuba diving is accessible to most people regardless of experience. Scuba holidays are becoming increasingly popular and are an excellent way to please the whole family.
SCUBA is an acronym. It stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus!
Scuba diving is incredibly safe! Even safer than driving or having a baby!
Due to light filtration, underwater fish and plant life may appear to be a colour they aren’t! (We will now direct you to our physics page…)
Underwater, sound travels much, much faster, so it is difficult to tell where it is coming from. (Checked that physics page yet?)
The behaviour of light underwater also makes things appear about 1/3 larger than they really are! (Ahem, Physics page…)
In 1992, Richard Presley had an underwater dive that lasted 69 days!
Each year, over 1 million people become certified scuba divers.
Only 10% of the sea has ever been explored!
The deepest recorded scuba dive was by South African Nuno Gomes who dived to a depth of 318.25 m (1,044 ft.) in the Red Sea off Dahab, Egypt, in 2005.
A few key questions to ask a potential scuba diving instructor:
Where do the lessons take place? These are usually in a swimming pool for beginners. Once skills have been learnt diving will take place at a variety of locations. How will your child travel there? Is transport available?
Do you need to buy anything before the lessons start? Is all equipment supplied with the cost of the lessons?
How long does the lesson last? If your child is out for the whole day, will refreshments be provided or should you send a packed lunch?
CEDIP – European Committee of Professional Diving Instructors.
PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors – Recreational diving membership and training.
BSAC – British sub aqua club are the UK’s leading dive club and the sport’s national governing body, providing an internationally-recognised diver training and development programme via a network of clubs and centres across the country and overseas.
The Welsh Association of Sub Aqua Clubs - The national governing body of sub aquatic sports in Wales.
The Scottish Sub Aqua Club - The national governing body for the sport of diving in Scotland.
The Irish Underwater Council - The national governing body for recreational underwater sports in Ireland.
Discover Scuba Diving (10years+) Children learn what wearing scuba equipment feels like and how easy it is to move around underwater while wearing it. They find out what it’s like to breath underwater and learn whether they can be comfortable there. They are taught some basic skills and safety rules that will carry over to the full scuba certification course if they decide to take the next step.
Bubblemaker (8years+) What better way to introduce children to scuba diving than in a pool in less than six feet of water? Children should be comfortable in the water, but they don’t have to be super swimmers. A session lasts 1 hour.
Seal Team (8years+) Part one, AquaMissions 1 – 5, teaches children the basics of diving - things like buoyancy control, mask clearing, regulator recovery, etc. After building a solid foundation of scuba skills, they move on to part two which is full of specialty AquaMissions that introduce children to wreck diving, navigation, buoyancy, underwater photography, environmental awareness and more. This is also an excellent way to introduce scuba diving prior to full Open Water Diver certification.
The PADI Open Water Diver course consists of three main phases:
Knowledge Development (online, home study or in a classroom) to understand basic principles of scuba diving. PADI eLearning requires an extra registration step for students under 13 years old due to international internet laws.
Confined Water Dives to learn basic scuba skills.
Open Water Dives to review skills and explore!
The PADI Scuba Diving course is a shorter, limited certification which may be suitable if your child expects to go scuba diving primarily in the company of a dive guide or if there is limited time to devote to scuba certification and ‘opens the door on the underwater world for anyone who’s thought that a course would take too long or be too difficult.’
As well as a huge range of specialist diving qualifications, there are a number of pure instructor qualifications too. It is important that, for an ordinary scuba diving class, the instructor holds one of these qualifications. For specific courses, they may need other qualifications on top of this. The most important thing to remember is that you can always ask to see their qualifications and you’ll be able to check what their qualification enables them to teach. Instructors should always have a PADI approved qualification.
Scuba diving provides a child with a unique opportunity to explore a new world and is beneficial in many ways. After the initial learning of basic skills, the quiet and colourful underwater atmosphere is often a relaxing and calming environment. This may be ideal for children that need help with multisensory issues or even those with busy lives who need time to relax away from study and school.
Physically scuba diving is a great way to improve a child’s stamina and gross motor skills. As they must be able to keep moving whilst underwater, their physical fitness will be tested over long periods.
Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) started scuba diving at the age of 26 after a friend had lent him some goggles. He was a French naval officer, conservationist, photographer and author. He first started inventing scuba gear in 1942 and only a year later had come up with the Aqualung – the first underwater breathing regulator!
James Bond – 007 is very well known for his scuba abilities and has often used it to infiltrate enemy bases in the books and films. Please note: your scuba instructor may demand that you wear a t-shirt under your wet suit, but probably not a tuxedo!
Tiger Woods (born December 30, 1975) American professional golfer trained with the Marines to become a Master Scuba Diver and can hold his breath for up to 4 minutes! He is a huge fan of how peaceful it is underwater and says it may have something to do with fish not constantly recognising who he is!
Sandra Bullock (born July 26, 1964) – Miss Congeniality took up scuba diving for a different reason. Not because she loved the ocean; because she was terrified of it! Sandra Bullock wanted something to do that would help her get over her fears and scuba diving was what she decided on. Now, she loves the ocean.
PADI Seal Team is for young divers who are looking for action-packed fun in a pool by doing exciting scuba AquaMissions.
‘What is the minimum age a child should be allowed to scuba dive?" - According to PADI (the Professional Association of Dive Instructors) kids can be certified as Junior Open Water Divers as early as the age of 10. Whether this is recommendable for any or all children is a subject of debate within the dive community.’
Ever since I was a young boy I had been fascinated with the underwater world. It wasn't until later in life that I had the opportunity to try it out for myself. It gave me the chance to explore new worlds and meet new, exciting people. It was a rewarding experience that helped me to build confidence in my abilities. Learning to scuba dive was every bit as exciting as I had hoped, but it was also a big challenge. A combination of enthusiasm, determination and self belief helped me to achieve my ambition; Scuba diving demands those qualities and practicing the sport regularly re enforces them in me.
What I enjoy most about diving is the underwater exploration, no cave or shipwreck is too dark for me, in fact the darker the better. The sense of exploring the unknown, even though thousands of divers have dived these sites before is overwhelming. In my time so far I have dived on world war two wrecks with live ammunition still in them, swam with turtles and sharks, squeezed through impossibly small caves and enjoyed every moment of it.