Dive into the deep

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The dark depths of seas and oceans are a sight that most of us may think is beyond us.

But with ancient rusting wrecks and exotic wildlife, the world beneath the waves is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered - by learning how to scuba dive.

Diving with Triton Scuba. Picture: David Jones

Diving with Triton Scuba. Picture: David Jones

David Jones started up Triton Scuba, based in Eastney, in 2000, and it now offers training and courses for any budding diver from the age of 10.

Eastney Swimming Pool is normally a haven for young children with armbands and recreational swimmers, but in the week it’s also easy to spot dark shapes gliding beneath the water’s surface as scuba divers learn their sport.

David, 51, lives in Southsea and first became interested in scuba diving as a child. He waited until he was 16 to learn, and eventually became a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) instructor and a diver as part of the Royal Engineers in the army.

He’s dived all over the world and says: ‘You couldn’t begin diving until you were 16 back then, and I started almost straight after my 16th birthday. I’ve lost count of the number of dives I’ve done, but I did work out I’ve probably spent about six months of my life underwater.’

He adds: ‘I’ve been very lucky to have some involvement with the underwater filming industry too. I’ve worked on a couple of BBC natural history-style programmes, and for the past three years I’ve worked with a company called Future Planet Films.

‘This year I’ve been to Mexico diving, and last year I was in Fiji. I’ve dived in South Africa, Indonesia and many other places.’

It was 13 years ago that he realised Portsmouth didn’t offer much for budding 
scuba divers.

He says: ‘There wasn’t really a school that offered PADI diver training at all. There were a few local clubs, but I thought it was really odd, especially as we’re a city that’s based on the water.

‘I had a lot of experience in diving and a little experience in business, so I started a small shop with half-a-dozen sets of equipment.’

Triton Scuba, which has previously won The News Best Small Business Award, offers diver training for those just starting out or for experienced divers looking to become instructors.

Whether it’s in the classroom, pool or open water, there are flexible courses including PADI Instructor Training and Technical Diving Training.

David says: ‘We have everything from a pair of fins for a first-time diver to an underwater camera for an experienced diver.

‘We offer a range of diving courses, and we have a busy club with around 150 members. We go on holidays and have weekend trips away, and a boat that goes out locally. There are social events every month too.

‘People come in and try a dive, and many of those stay on to work for me as part-time instructors. It’s definitely one of those sports that changes your life.’

And courses for children are very similar to those for adults.

‘Children can start training at 10, and it’s the same course, but there’s a different depth which they go to in the final training,’ explains David.

‘If schools wanted to work with us then we would be delighted to do something. There are all sorts of opportunities out there to engage with schools and support children who want to get into diving.’

He adds: ‘We have quite a few youngsters who get involved and we work a lot with the University of Portsmouth. A lot of students come to us and train as instructors, then they go travelling and that qualification can be used pretty much anywhere.’

David describes scuba diving as a levelling sport – it doesn’t matter how different people may be on land, as underwater everyone can have a go.

‘Diving isn’t like football or rugby, pretty much anybody can be good at it. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amazing sportsman, you’re just the same as the person next to you underwater.

‘You can do training in marine life, wrecks and diving at night. There’s lots on offer for people, and it depends what they fancy learning.’

For the past week Triton Scuba has also been taking part in a nationwide initiative with PADI called Into The Blue 2013.

Running until tomorrow, it’s to encourage participants to take their first underwater breath in a safe environment, but it also offers a 2-for-1 incentive for first time divers.

David explains: ‘We have decided to run our own initiative after Into The Blue finishes. If one person books to try a dive, to see how they like it, then they can bring another person for free.

‘A lot of people who have tried diving end up booking a course afterwards, and it will be running throughout October for anyone.’

Scuba diving looks set to become even more popular as the sport becomes accessible to everyone.

‘It’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and I don’t think this will change,’ says David.

‘A lot of people are becoming more aware of the world around them and how important it is. They want to see it.

‘People don’t just go on holiday to sit on a beach any more, they want to 
do something.

‘Diving is great all over the world, and there are wonderful things to see in the UK too. It’s a great hobby pretty much anybody can do.’

For more information, go to tritonscuba.co.uk.