BSAC member Oliver Meaden from Southsea SAC tells us about a successful two-day scuba diving Try Dive event for young people.

As people who are keen to promote our sport, we are only too aware how hard it can be to get young people involved. As a club, we had our usual chats around try dives and getting groups of younger people in the water and if we could have a stand at local events when we were contacted by our borough council to ask if we could help them.

Fareham Borough council in Hampshire were running a scheme to give school children activities to do during the school holidays, the scheme was known as ‘access all areas’ and has been running for a few years. Becca Bennet, the council’s representative, explained that in previous years diving had been on offer through a commercial organisation who now wished to charge a fee for the same experience and due to budget restrictions could Southsea Sub Aqua Club help? Of course we jumped at the opportunity and set to work on organising our usual try dive routine.

We liaised with the council who wanted us to use two of their leisure centres for two different days of try dives. This meant that our usual pool risk assessment was now predominantly obsolete.

We started creating new risk assessments taking into account all of the various factors such as depth, how many lanes we had and the fact that the pools were to remain open to the public for general swimming. The real head scratcher was working out at which point life guards were to step in should there be an issue. After all, they have no knowledge of the kit we use or how best to get a diver to the surface let alone back onto poolside. They agreed that we should be responsible for any ‘in water’ rescues but once they were on the side they were the lifeguard’s responsibility.

Once all documentation and sign off had been completed to the councils standards (which the BSAC website helped with immensely), the fun part started, getting the children booked in for a one to one diving session with our instructors. Becca informed me that within 48 hours of the sign up going live on the website, all 75 spaces were fully booked. This demonstrates how much the demand for our great sport is out there amongst the younger generation, it is simply the opportunity they are lacking. Spurred on by the popularity, all officers in the club were getting involved, the equipment officer was boxing up all of our kit to transport to the pool, the diving officer was pouring over the safety (quite rightly), the membership secretary and chairman were encouraging the marketing and being the training officer, I was trying to link it all and organise the instructors. I have mentioned the club officers but in the end it came down to our members just as much, the whole club rallied around and helped with everyone from Ocean Divers to Advanced Divers offering to do their part where they could and to each of you, I am truly grateful for your help and support.

Southsea SAC - access all areas

Finally the days arrived and children poured in from the beginning of the session to the end with each of them having 15 minutes individually with an instructor, this may seem like a short time but we did have 75 to have a go in just 8 hours total. Every single child had a great time and received a certificate for their efforts making it a truly wonderful experience for all involved, even the instructors and helpers exclaimed what fabulous days they had (even if a little tired) and they were impressed by how well the children had taken to it. The council were thrilled to have had a successful activity and the pool were happy with us bringing more people through the doors, all in all a worthwhile and brilliant success for everyone.

This just goes to show how young people are eager to learn our wonderful sport and what they can achieve when given the right guidance, the type of guidance that only happens when a club truly works together to help everyone benefit and organisations that go out of their way to make things happen. Cathy Boswell from everyone active leisure centres was extremely accommodating, giving us access to poolside and organising the lifeguards and lanes for us with Becca Bennet coordinating everything from the council’s side.

Following the event, we have heard from several of the children who were enquiring where they can learn properly and how they go about this and even better, how do they join our club and become a member of BSAC. We are now looking forward to next year where we can have fun with this all over again and who knows, dare I say, even recruit some new young divers!!!

Read more about the #RightToBeActive campaign

More information on BSAC activities for children and young people

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