It's the first dive centre in North India, they claim. DiveIndia, a certified diving school from the Andamans, has introduced this interesting/bizarre/exciting (depending on how you look at it) idea and taken over the swimming pool of Noida's Sector 15A club. Yes, a swimming pool.
But can one scuba dive in a swimming pool that's just 12 feet deep? A resounding yes to that. Not just this, we are told, you can scuba dive even in a pool that is as little as five feet deep. But where are the coral reefs? Where are the colourful fishes? Well, those aren't going to be there, you see. So what's the point?
Well, the certified course can save upto three days when you go for a scuba diving holiday. "Often, you end up wasting precious foreign exchange and time learning scuba basics for three days before you actually dive in. With our certified courses you can straightway go to any scuba diving centre in the world and take the plunge. Our certificate is recognised worldwide by diving platforms like PADI and SSI," says Rakesh Gupta, sports convener of Sector 15A club, who himself is a certified dive instructor.
Newbies try out scuba diving as curious bystanders look on
Besides, he says, it's fun and adventurous. Anybody above 8 can do it and one doesn't need to know swimming to do scuba. "There is a lot of interest in underwater activities after the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara," adds Gupta.
It's not just scuba. You can also try snorkelling. "The snorkelling programme is for those looking to try something easier. It's a more relaxed approach to exploring the underwater world. All it needs is a mask/snorkel and a lifejacket," says Gupta.
For scuba, the programme is for 60-75 minutes (30-45 minutes in water). You will be introduced to dive gear, taught breathing and safety techniques and basic skin diving. And of course, you will experience one of the most exciting aspects of diving: Weightlessness, the closest you will come to flying.
These programmes come in the range of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per session for club members and a little more for non members.
Pool-side Scuba 101 with the instructor
However, the most intensive and expensive programme is the certification course called the Open Water Training programme that would set you back atleast by Rs 12,000. Never mind, for this programme also takes you for four ocean dives. This is the course that can save three days while going for a scuba holiday.
As for safety, Gupta claims that all measures are being taken in line with international diving norms. The programme is also a smart move by the Noida club. "The swimming pool remains unused from 10 am to 4 pm and that is when we are doing this course, utilising it to the full," says Gupta.
Last weekend saw as many as nine participants. "We were taught how to deal with emergencies and how to avoid panic, how to breathe under water, what to do if the regulator stops functioning, what to do when water seeps in," says participant and Sector 15A resident Randeep Sahay. Gupta is optimistic that more will follow and if it continues to get good response, club management will throw open the programme on weekdays as well.
So why go to the Andamans when you can do it right here on your home turf? Dive in, ladies and gentlemen.