Scuba in winter: It's cool in the pool

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Scuba in winter: It's cool in the pool

As the thermometers plunge, active people who don't enjoy winter activities like skiing or skating are seemingly out of luck. But did it ever occur to you that winter is a good time to learn scuba diving?

You don't even need to fly away to a fancy, tropical resort, either. You can learn scuba diving at an indoor pool. Best of all, during the winter indoor pools are less crowded and the water feels warmer than during the summer.

Recently, this reporter took a beginner's course for scuba diving at an indoor pool in Olympic Park, southern Seoul. The course is offered by Dive Korea, a group of diving experts, and consists of an hour of diving practice for four days. The four-day session costs 250,000 won (about $195), which includes renting the dive equipment.

Day 1

On the first day, you get to know about the basic equipment used for scuba diving, such as the air tank, floater, regulator, diving suit, snorkel and weight belt. All that stuff weighs about 30 kilograms, which can seem overwhelming for a beginner. But because of the density of water, once you go below the surface it is quite manageable. All you have to do is relax and kick with your flippers.

Day 2

On the second day, you learn how to use the regulator to breathe. At first, breathing through the lumpy device feels rather strange.

Next, you go underwater with the regulator and air tank. You start slowly, descending just 50 centimeters or so at a time, while holding on to a rope hanging against the wall of the swimming pool. The pool looks deep and the bottom seems to be far-off.

You will start to feel pain in your ears due to the increasing water pressure as you go deeper. To reduce the pain, you should hold your nose and blow hard through you ears. Repeat as often as you need.

Another problem is that the dry air from the air tank can dry your throat out. To ease this, detach the regulator quickly and swallow a little water. When you put the mouthpiece back in, be sure to blow out first to eliminate any water from the regulator.

Day 3

The third day begins with a lesson on defogging your mask. Because your mask will periodically mist up, you need to know how to clean it safely.

First, while wearing the mask, pull it away from the face to let the water in. While holding the upper part of the mask tightly against your forehead, blow out through your nose. The air that comes out of the nose fills the mask and displaces the water.

For a beginner, doing this correctly is not as easy as it sounds. I inhaled a lungful of water because I was nervous and stressed. After repeating the process dozens of times, however, even I was able to learn how to defog my mask correctly and safely.

Day 4

The final day of the lessons, we learned about how to keep neutral buoyancy in the water, so that we neither rose nor sank.

The most important part of having the right level of buoyancy is use of the weight belt. Depending on your size and how muscular you are (remember, muscle is six times denser than fat), weights are fastened to your belt.

After completing the four days in the pool, you are ready to learn on the open water. But for that, it's best to wait for warmer weather.

For more information, visit the Web site for Nexfree, a leisure sports company, at or call 02-753-8005.

by Sung Si-yoon

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