Following an enjoyable try dive with OUUEG in October in 2022, I was motivated to quickly get a start on BSAC Ocean Diver training! Our pool training took place over the frosty weekend of 1st week (the 21st and 22nd of January 2023) at Iffley Sports Centre.

All us trainees and instructors met bright and early at 8.30am on Saturday morning, where we went through a briefing for the day and soon got to sorting out kit and moving (lots of!) cylinders to the side of the pool. We got started in the water, and after a swim test, began learning the important basics of diving and navigating an underwater world. We were in buddy pairs with at least one instructor per pair; we went through using our gear effectively and safely, communicating with signals, and staying buoyant. Feeling slightly chilly, we had post-session briefings under the warmth of the pool showers before getting back in to continue with the lesson material.

As we went through mask clearing and AS procedures (alternative supply – breathing through your buddy’s spare regulator/ octopus), I was very grateful for our instructor’s patience as I found not everything came easy first time round. We were able to keep practising until we were confident that we could carry tasks out and solve issues underwater. A debrief over lunch followed in the warm pub round the corner, the Oxford Blue. We practised assembling kit in the pub under our instructor’s and buddy’s watch – possibly a slightly odd sight for a pub – but it was very helpful before kitting up for the final pool session after lunch, where we would take control of our kit assembly and buddy checks. In our final sessions of the day, back in the water, we continued to fine tune our buoyancy skills and other skills from the morning. We started encountering some new entries and exits from the water as if we were diving from a boat. Finally, after wrapping up and shifting kit to the side of the pool, we finished for the evening.

Sunday was another early start; again, we got right to it, kitting up and this time getting into new buddy pairs with different instructors. In Sunday’s pool sessions we helpfully recapped lots of Saturday’s content before getting onto new rescue skills, including controlled AS ascents, buoyant lifts, and towing each other at the pool surface. Once our pool training came to an end, it was time to rinse equipment and store it in the hut. We of course then returned to the Oxford Blue pub for a small end of training social. It was a memorable finish to the course in the pub hearing about past trips of the club to Cornwall, the Red Sea and beyond.

Thank you to all the instructors – Marius, Kirill, Tom, Xianming, Claire, Penny, Rona – and to the experienced divers who acted as pool cover (Midori and Clare), and finally to the other trainees, who made the weekend such a great experience!