I am driving into Taunton town centre in the rain, on a dark January evening, thinking how nice it would be at home with my feet up tucking into some food… but I know that within about 10 minutes, I will be reminded why I am the luckiest man in the world not to finish work till about 10pm on a Tuesday night !!!
Arriving at King’s College, I am always amazed at how early our hugely enthusiastic staff turn up for the pool sessions, they just can’t stay away !! A quick chat and catch up, then students and members of the Scuba Blue Club begin to arrive. Try Divers looking a little apprehensive, but excited about the new activity they are going to experience…Open Water students looking forward to a session of learning skills and catching up with their new “Dive Buddies", experienced divers who haven’t been in the water for a while and want to brush up on their skills and club members just wanting to blow a few bubbles and to hone their underwater skills.
The group then splits between the classroom and the pool…students complete any theory work with our instructors in the warm classrooms right next to the pool, whilst the rest of the Scuba Blue team unload all the kit for the evening and set up ready for the pool. It always stuns us that members and students alike always want to help the staff with the unloading, it just seems to engender a team feel and we love it. After what feels like 5 minutes, it’s time to get changed and do what we have all come here for…..SCUBA DIVING !!!
All our staff have been fully briefed and are ready to look after our guests for the evening…There is nothing worse than standing on the edge of a swimming pool, in your swimming things, not knowing quite what to do. So we make sure you are greeted at the poolside, whisked away, provided with whatever kit you require and then welcomed into the small groups you will be spending the session with.
One of the great joys of our Tuesday pool sessions, is that Try Divers and newer students have the opportunity to see a huge range of abilities in the pool. Some members might be practicing their SMB skills, others trying out their new twinsets or even rebreathers…it gives a great illustration of the endless possibilities diving can offer.
If I get a moment, I will take a minute to myself to just hover in the deep end and take in the view of between 20 and 30 people all having the time of their lives on a cold, wet Tuesday evening in Taunton… Bizarre isn’t it !!Then, before we know it, the time has come to get out and back to normal life.
HOWEVER, for me the highlight of the evening is hearing the chat and laughter in the changing rooms and reception area once the pool session is over. There are no signs of nerves or shyness from the Try Divers anymore, they are full of smiles and desperate to talk about their first breaths underwater and “How can I take this new interest further?”, Open Water students are chatting with everyone about the new found confidence they have and making plans for their “Open Water Weekend” and the experienced divers, who have come along for a refresher session, are remarking that the skills they have been put through have never left them… “It’s a bit like riding a bike” and…”Why did I leave it for so long?”
Then, just as you think everyone will want to get away as it’s up for work in the morning , EVERYONE gets involved in packing the van. We tell them that they are guests but they insist they “Want to get involved.” The van is loaded in minutes but STILL people don’t want to leave.
Finally, I HAVE to bring the evening to a close, so everyone disappears to their cars still chatting all the way and I turn off the lights and lock the doors!! After a drink, a quick bite to eat and a bit of a debrief with any staff and students that want to join us, I am on my way home with a huge feeling of satisfaction and a real joy that we have just been able to provide the base for people to come out, get active, try something new, make new friends and simply have a great time !!
By 11pm I’m drifting off, dreaming of crystal clear waters, coral reefs, pristine shipwrecks and talking sea horses zzzzzzzzzzzzzz..............
Just need to unload that van in the morning !!!!!