Thanks to movies, underwater diving is no longer a remote sport limited to a select few. More and more people are now daring to explore the world beyond the sea level.
If you are interested to know more about the sport, we have here martial Warnier de Wailly, PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) regional manager for France, discussing how to safely get started with the sport.
How would you recommend people get started with diving?
PADI courses are of course a great way to learn diving. When you start beginner courses use “confined water,” which can be in the sea but it will be a shallow part of the water, with no waves or currents, and chosen by the PADI instructor. For me personally though a swimming pool is the best way to get started — it is warm, clear, not too deep, and you can go at your own pace.
Are there any restrictions on who can learn to dive? For example age, or fitness level?
There are some restrictions with regards to physical health, and you have to be in good health with your lungs, heart, ears and brain, because the pressure when you are under the water can be strong. In France you actually have to present a medical certificate to say you are fit to dive, but in other countries you will have to sign a piece of paper to say that you are in good health.
With regards to age, children under the age of eight cannot dive as their lungs etc. are not mature yet.
Are there any dangers that beginners should be aware of when diving, or any safety tips that you can give?
Always breathe! If you stop breathing diving can be dangerous for your lungs, and the ears too. But this will be the main objective of your first lesson — to look at different aspects of safety, especially with children with whom you have to be very attentive.
Where do you think are the best, or most beautiful, diving spots around the world for beginners?
Normally beginners want to enjoy the experience of diving in warm seas and warm weather, and to see things such as fish and coral. So many holiday destinations are excellent places to dive, for example the Maldives, Egypt, and Thailand — Asia in general is a good place to go. But there are also parts of Europe that I like, for example if you want to see wildlife the UK is great, and I also love Normandy in France.
You also don’t have to go anywhere with deep water, when you start diving it’s great just to be able to interact with your environment, to see the fish and coral, and you can have great pleasure diving at just 5m. There is no need to go further if you don’t want to — it’s a contemplative sport.
What gear do you recommended beginners invest in to get them started? Any essential pieces that every diver should have, or any technical fabrics to look out for when choosing kit?
It is possible to rent everything so you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to. But as you put the snorkel in your mouth, and you have to put saliva in the mask to stop it getting foggy — it’s good to buy your own just for you! It is the same with the wetsuit and fins, think about who used it before you! But everything else — which is normally bigger and more expensive — you can rent.
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