A very different diving report from one of our newest club members: Nigel, over to you sir!
At the beginning of this year, I started to learn how to Scuba dive at my local British Sub Aqua Club based in Filton. My club instructor, Tim, helped me to progress at my own pace and I have recently qualified as an Ocean Diver. I still have a lot to learn and skills to practise so when he put a call-out amongst our Scuba club membership for any available members to help with cleaning the Portishead Open Air Pool (which is a community based charitable Trust that relies on volunteers to keep it running), I thought it was an ideal opportunity for me to try out some of my newly acquired diving equipment and help a worthy cause.
Tim has a few words: Thanks for the kind words Nigel. On the subject of why the pool needs an algae clean: There is a world shortage of chlorine and unable to get their usual supply the pool have been running with as little as possible to stay open but the green algae is the result. The pool robot can deal with the bottom but hasn’t evolved to climbing walls yet so Emma, one of the many volunteers tried holding her breath & scrubbing but it was a losing battle & so called for help)
Now back to our regular reporter Nigel:
My diving buddy for that afternoon was Sue, an experienced diver, and a qualified instructor at our Sub Aqua club. We both met at the pool at 2pm on Wednesday and after a quick cleaning briefing from Emma) Sue and I then got kitted-up in our drysuits etc., completed our important buddy safety checks and with Tim and Emma looking on from Poolside, in we splashed.
Tim had previously suggested that I should use more diving weights than usual to help keep me planted on the floor of the pool and prevent me from bobbing up and down whilst working, which turned out to be great advice.
Armed with a sponge we started work in the least accessible area, the bottom of the deep end.
Despite noticing the thin build-up of harmless green algae on certain areas of the pool’s lining, I was immediately struck at how clean the pool water appeared to be. I could clearly see all the way from the deep end to the far wall in the shallow end, 33 metres away. Most municipal swimming baths and even private leisure clubs I’ve swam in have nearly always appeared to have a little mist or murk in them, but even on a dull afternoon at the end of November, the water here was perfectly clear.
Sue and I began our cleaning on opposite sides of the pool. My borrowed 12 litre air cylinder was virtually full at 210bar of pressure but up to now I had only done gentle finning in the sea and had not done anything particularly vigorous, so I wasn’t sure exactly how long my air cylinder would safely last whilst sponging down the pool.
I needn’t have been concerned, the algae was easily removed with very little effort and after about an hour (which flew by) I still had a third of my air left and the least accessible parts of the pool were now cleaned. It’s surprisingly satisfying, making something clean, especially if it’s not your own bathroom that you have to clean regularly.
Emma was very grateful and thanked us for our efforts and although my dive computer said the water temp was only 13ᵒC, I was completely warm, and despite all the extra arm movement my drysuit had remained dry inside and more importantly, I felt the experience had improved both my Scuba diving technique and confidence and I’d had some fun into the bargain.