Diving Is Making a Splash in Winter

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Diving Is Making a Splash in Winter

"Most people believe diving is for summer but real maniacs think otherwise. We save the best for winter. That's when the water is less crowded. And the cold makes the water clearer so you can see down deep."

It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but a Coral Scuba Diving Club instructor, Yoon Sang-pil, says all you need is the right attitude and the right protection.

Unfortunately, many club members still hang up their flippers in winter. "As people say, 'See you people next summer,' that's when they are done with the year's diving," Mr. Yoon laments.

Even so, the club's Olympic-size swimming pool is crowded with people learning to swim and dive. Among them is Seo Hong-won, 38, who drives a freight truck, and began diving in June.

"I have to stay alert at the wheel all the time," he says. "I found out there's nothing like diving to let off steam and refresh myself. In fact, it's a fantastic way to spend your day looking into a whole new world under the sea; the fish that swim past, the colorful plants and so on."

Others agree that diving is the way to go. Lee Hye-kyung, 27, has made five dives since joining six months ago. Cho Young-chul, 43, a taxi-driver, rushes to the pool whenever he has a chance. Yeo Kyung-mi, 24, who works in a tour agency, goes diving at every opportunity. All are looking forward to more adventures beneath the sea.

For winter diving, a dry suit is essential. Unlike a wet suit, a dry suit has special lining that maintains body temperature in the water and out of it. The suit can also maintain its own buoyancy because of the air inside.

By absorbing or releasing the air, it can adjust itself to neutral buoyancy (neither floating nor sinking). But because of such complexities, even experienced divers need extra training in how to use a winter suit.

Coral Scuba (02-478-2663) will run a special dry-suit training class on two days, Saturday and Sunday. However, be warned - a dry suit is expensive. For example, the Cordura dry suit, which is made in Britain, costs 950,000 won ($850). But, Mr. Yoon points out: "The cost will be worth it in the long run."

Regular diving lessions for this year will start Dec. 3 for two weeks on Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit the Coral Scuba website (www.ssd.co.kr).

by Kim Sae-joon

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