Not-so-open Water

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Friday, July 16, 2010 

under Education & Career by Heather Reisner

All those still saving up for that holiday to the tropics will be glad to know that it only takes a short metro ride to partake in the vacation pastime of scuba diving. While the HongKou Swimming Club is no Cayman Islands, it still has three swimming pools, two years of experience serving the Shanghai scuba community and a professional, patient instructor who can teach you the basics before you jet off to more exotic destinations. Offering both PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques) certification, they are able to cater to a range of ability levels.

For all those unfamiliar with the procedures involved in becoming a qualified underwater explorer, the entry-level course is called Open Water Diver, which teaches the basics of scuba diving in waters up to 18 meters deep and will run you around RMB3300. Truly dedicated students can complete the novice training in three days but for those unwilling to devote entire mornings and afternoons to the pursuit, it's probably going to take a little longer. In order to garner a physical scuba license, there is an RMB1000 examination held in JinShan Lake. Devotees and those seeking to brave deeper depths with greater freedom can then take the next steps of becoming an Adventure Open Water Diver, a Rescue Diver and eventually a Master Scuba Diver.

Part of the course requires theoretical training, which means dipping into a textbook on diving dynamics and watching an informational video featuring a Portia de Rossi look-a-like. After donning the requisite scuba gear, the beginner-level class begins in a shallow pool of dubiously murky water. The instructor teaches students how to breathe using an air tank and how to get leakage out of goggles whilst below the waves. Once these basics have been mastered, it's time for the big pool, which is an almighty depth of two meters. The next stage of the lesson: to remain submerged for a full three minutes, chucking back and forth a Frisbee to pass the time.

While the location in a public swimming pool - with onlookers gawking at your bizarre attire - can be a somewhat daunting prospect, it means less holiday time abroad taking classes and more time scoping out the ocean floor.

The Bottom Line: An entertaining and refreshing respite from the hot Shanghai summer to prepare you for pleasanter waters.