Scuba diving is a huge sport worldwide, so much so that over one million people become certified divers every year. It may not be one of the most practiced sports for African Americans, but things are slowly beginning to change, thanks to the work of diving pioneers. In 1991, The National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS) was launched by two diving legends: Dr. A Jose Jones and Ric Powell – both of whom were among the earliest African Americans to become certified divers. Their aim was twofold: to boost the popularity of their favorite sport among fellow African-Americans, and to address the unique issues relevant to local communities. Today, NABS has over 2,000 members from across the nation and abroad. If you’d like to join NABS and take up diving, you couldn’t pick a more fascinating activity; one that excites as much as it calms, inspires and informs, and appeals to those who like to ‘seize the day’.
What is so Appealing about Diving?
Scuba diving is a magnificent low-impact aerobic activity, meaning it gets your heart racing at an ideal rate for weight loss or calorie burning. Scuba is an ideal sport for those who may have difficulty with impact sports because of knee or other joint pain. Diving can be undertaken by young and old alike, with iconic marine scientist Jacques Cousteau diving almost until the day he passed away – at the age of 87, or underwater director Stan Waterman quitting his sport of passion at the age of 90. Diving has more than just physical benefits; as an outdoor activity in the midst of the majesty of seas and oceans, it is a powerful antidote to stress – which, when present at chronically high levels, can contribute to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
Starting from Scratch
In order to dive, you will need to pass a basic course from an accepted organization such as PADI, ISO, CMAS, SSI, or NAUI. Following this course, you will receive the first-level certification, and be deemed an Open Water Diver (meaning you can dive in the ocean or sea rather than a pool). The first part of the course is theoretical. If you are busy, you can opt to do this part of the course online, so you have all the information you need to begin the next phase, called the Confined Dives Phase – which takes place in a swimming pool. During practical training, you will be taught how to stay afloat, what to do in an emergency, and how to help other divers if need be. Next up is the Open Water Dive Phase, in which you will practice what you learned in an ocean, sea, or lake, under the guiding hand of your instructor. The PADI Open Water Diver Course, one of the most popular, takes between 12 and 15 hours to complete. Usually, you will be lent all the equipment you need though if you dive frequently, you will have to invest in your own wetsuit, flippers, and other equipment.
Can You Dive Alone Afterwards?
You should always dive with someone else when you are an Open Water Diver. Even though you may have the important skills you need to dive alone, diving alongside others provides an extra layer of security and adds a social element to your experience. Those who wish to go solo should ideally achieve further qualifications, and be aware that they will need extra equipment so as to be able to rescue themselves if needed. The best thing about progressing in your diving expertise is that you can dive deeper and get close to fascinating marine species that are often absent from shallower diving areas.
If you are looking for a new, social sport that opens to natural worlds to you, diving is a great choice. It does require a few hours of training, but this is evidently crucial considering you will be breathing underwater with a tank. If you have kids, bring them along, but be aware that they must be at least 10 years old to start.