That's me diving with turtles in Marsa el Alam, Egypt.

History of diving

People have always been curious of the oceans’ depth and dreamt of being able to freely breathe underwater. It is hard to estimate when people went down underwater for the first time. Looking at the past we are able to find indirect evidence of the fact that people were practising free diving, diving on the hold breath, in order to search some food and to find mother-of-pearl ornaments. The oldest document which provides the image of diving man is the Assyrian relief from around 900 BC. The artefact shows the man with air-filled bladder which looks like a breathing apparatus (Stewart 2011: 20). There are known attempts to breathe underwater from the bag or the pipe, nevertheless the pressure exerted by the water is so high that we are not able to breathe two meters under the surface. 

Underwater breathing apparatus in Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus Source

We can find first project of the scuba self-contained underwater breathing apparatus in Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus. It was a helmet connected with a breathing tube leading to the surface. He also designed an armoured diving suit as well as he has mentioned about air tanks. Da Vinci was afraid that human being will use his invention for destruction and there is no evidence if he ever built it (Stewart 2011: 23). For centuries many have struggled to invent a manner which would allow people to be taken under the ocean’s surface. 

The first usage of a device that could carry people down was probably in 360 B.C. as Aristotle mentioned it in his Problematum. In the late 16thcentury, in Spanish city Toledo, Greeks invented the metal diving bell that contained oxygen and could transport only a few people below the surface (Marx 1978). While descending, because of the pressure, the amount of air in the bell was reducing and the level of water was growing up. This was enough only for a few minutes but still allowed people to find some food and experience the beauty of the ocean. 

Diving Bell Source

However, the most decisive moment and at the same time most useful invention for scuba diving turned out the diving regulator named ‘Aqualung’ created in 1943 by a French engineer Emile Gagnan and Jacques Yves Cousteau, a French naval officer and explorer of the oceans depth. The air was supplied to the diver's mouth automatically even during the slightest inhalation (Moose 1999: 779). Even though, since the Cousteau and Gagnan’s aqualung it is been a long time, modern breathing apparatus are still variations of the original one. They are improved every year but principle of operation remains the same. As diving has its roots from military, the Cousteau and Gagnan’s invention started the recreational scuba diving. Thanks to them diving has become available for all people, they gained a chance to discover another part of our Earth - the underwater world. 

Beginnings of diving business

Scuba diving started to spread out very fast in the early 20th century when the submarine technology began to develop. So far any courses have taken place only in a Royal Navy diving school. After Second World War without delay, began to form diving schools, diving bases, and diving centres. Significant improvement of diving equipment and better trainings has quickly changed social perception of diving. More and more people wanted to see what the ocean has to hide. In the past many people believed that diving is reserved for men and young people as in their opinion it is an extreme sport too dangerous for women and mature people. 

Dottie Frazier source

In 1955 Dottie Frazier became the first female dive instructor (Hanauer 1994: 142). She showed the world that women can be as good divers as men. Nowadays diving becomes more and more popular even among women and children. What is more, Scuba diving does not impose upper age limits and even elder people can do it as long as their health condition allows it. The desire of swimming like a fish has become possible. 

As soon as appeared the eagerness to dive, as soon, born the idea for a business. It has started to create various organization: CMAS, NAUI 1960, PADI in 1966, SSI in 1970, TDI in 1994, SDI in 1998, and others. These organizations via certified instructors trains people to become a recreational scuba diver. 

Term 'recreational' scuba diving means diving 'for fun'. Nevertheless recreational scuba diving often refers to specific set of rules, limitations, and restrictions. The diving instructors are professionals in what they are doing however, it is still named recreational scuba diving. This is the reason why recreational scuba diving is limited to the maximum 40 meters depth without decompression safety stop (Professional Association of Diving Instructors; 1996). After finished course diver receives a certification card. It is a license thanks to which people can dive in various diving centers all over the world and they can freely rent diving equipment. The most recognizable agencies all over the world became CMAS and PADI. They act according to different regulations, however courses which are offered by them as well as certification card are respected anywhere in the world. 

Why I think Scuba Diving is the best sport?

  • Recreational scuba diving is available for all people as it has easy training and equipment requirements. It doesn’t matter whether you are men or women, child, teenager, or mature people. Even children at the age of 10 can dive. As it was mentioned earlier elder people can dive as long as their health conditions allow on it.

  • No need of swimming - To receive a diver certification one must swim, but to experience diving you don’t even have to swim. If you want to try diving you can sign up on Discover Scuba Diving program. You will go underwater under supervision of professional instructor. You will done some exercises, and you will see how easy it see to breathe underwater. You will see that BCD, Buoyancy Control Device, will allow you to float on the surface and you will be able to hover underwater in every position.

  • Disabled people - What is also great is that there are also special diving centres that can teach disabled person how to dive. Of course they need to be supervised, nevertheless they can still dive.
  • Availability - The most recognizable agencies all over the world became CMAS and PADI. They act according to different regulations, however courses which are offered by them as well as certification card are respected anywhere in the world.

  • Development and progress - Beside recreational scuba diving, which is up to 40 meters depth, you can still make progress and start technical diving. Technical diving allows you to go deeper and discover even more. There are also various specializations available such as wreck diving, cave diving, ice diving, night diving, sidemount diving, rebreather diving, and so many others. You can always become a better diver and try something new.

  • Discover the unknownAnd the last but no least - while diving you can discover the unknown, see places that only divers can see. It’s amazing to see the marine life. So many fishes around, turtles, sharks, coral reefs, and the beauty of the ocean.

To sum up, nowadays diving became so diverse that everyone can find something for him/herself, even disabled people can dive. I think diving is the best sport, because everyone can try it no matter how old he/she is. You can develop yourself practically all the time, you can do a lot of specializations, or start technical diving to see more and go deeper. I also think it's a lot of fun. And what I appreciate the most while scuba diving is that underwater you forget about everything, you forget about everyday issues, you can just enjoy your dive and admire the underwater world.

Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. 

-Hanauer, Eric. Diving Pioneers: An Oral History of Diving in America. San Diego: Watersport Publishing, 1994.
-Instructors, Professional Association of Diving. The Encyclopedia of recreational diving. PADI, 1996.
-Marx, Robert F. The History of Underwater Exploration. Canada: General Publishing Company, 1978. 
-Moose, Christina J. Dictionary of World Biography: The 20th Century A-GI: Volume VII. Routledge, 1999.
-Stewart, Joseph. Exploring the History of Hyperbaric Chambers, Atmospheric Diving Suits and Manned Submersibles. United States of America: Xlibris Corporation, 2011.