Scuba diving is a concept familiar to many people, but what they might not be aware of is sport diving. Like typical underwater sports, they test endurance; but technical ability, too, as divers are required to race through 300m, according to governing body CMAS. With several kilograms of weight on your person and at depths of 2m or below, this is more difficult than it seems.
The curious yet exhilarating nature of sport diving has caused its popularity to boom across Europe and the world. Tying in with traditional water borne competitions like open-water diving, it provides a new platform for enthusiasts to try their craft. For those interested, there are a few basic steps to get into the sport – but a huge variety of locations it could take you to.
What are the fundamentals of sport diving?
Sport diving isn’t as dangerous or expansive as deep-water diving, but performing properly – and safely – relies on a high level of technical aptitude. This level of technical aptitude is what has drawn enthusiasts to the sport in recent years; like Olympic sports, which are about maximizing a very specific skill, sport diving demands masterful control in a very specific setting.
This push has led to more divers becoming accredited. Becoming an accredited scuba diver is the first step, and can be gained through payment or via volunteering; as the UK’s Guardian explored, non-profit orgs around the world will provide scuba training in exchange for your time. With a few hours under your belt, you’ll also need to build your own closet of diving equipment. Acquiring the right gear is something only you can learn, and finding your personal preference and building up a wardrobe over years is important to being competitive in sport diving.
Pioneers, competitions and history
As a relatively new undertaking, sport diving doesn’t have a massive pantheon of past winners, but the sport continues to gather followers to the current day. Competitions have been held in 1 to 3 year intervals, with the most recent, in Saint Petersburg, claiming Russian divers as the main winners. Most recently, expert diver Maksim Bykovez came away with gold in the flagship 300m race category. In terms of history, the dive museum in ferry town Gosport, UK has an extensive history of the competition and its related technology.
Where is the sport spreading?
In Europe, sport diving is taking hold in more exotic locations. Dive Magazine covered an exploration to the relatively unknown L’Estartit and its glorious sealife in which competitions are held. Elsewhere, competitions are taking place in areas of outstanding cultural history, like the submerged sections of the Great Wall of China in Chengdu and La Jolla underwater graveyard, near San Diego, USA. As technology like rebreathers become commonplace and diver safety can be ensured in an Olympic-style competitive environment, you can expect more far flung waters to become commonly explored.
How about it? Sport diving is a new and exciting sport gaining traction every year. As more hobbyists become enthusiasts and athletes after the fact, the sport will only gain more fame. Picking it up could lead to adventures to some of the most amazing underwater sights on earth, and accomplishment to boot.