Fantastic news for all British scuba divers : the World’s deepest pool will be soon in the UK! This announcement is actually happening not such a long time after the opening of Y-40 in Italy in June last year. It is the current World’s deepest scuba diving pool. I took its status to the historical deepest indoor scuba diving facility Nemo 33 in Belgium which opened in 2004. So is a new trend on its way? Do people become so crazy about scuba diving that even without colourful fish they want to experience it as often as possible? Or finally is this kind of facility can take people one level higher about scuba diving and adventure generally speaking?
An indoor swimming pool of 50m deep in the North of London?
This is the current project of John Vickers, managing director of Blue Abyss. He’s dreaming big and his vision is going way beyond the leisure attraction. J.Vickers claims already on-going partnership with European space agencies for astronauts to train in the depths of his pool. He wants to make this facility a place to host freediving competitions and promote scuba diving commercial careers.
The size of the pool will be huge, Blue Abyss is even planning to be able to run a crane, to put all sorts of items in the water like caves or wrecks. They will be able to configure the lighting to be dark during the day, or brightly lit at midnight.
The project is now in its first stages, no works have started yet, but Blue Abyss has already an opening target of June/July 2016 in Essex, England. Let’s follow the future steps in the coming months. In the meantime, I got the opportunity to interview John Vickers about Blue Abyss and ask him couple of questions:
Will still normal people be able to dive for fun in your pool like in Nemo 33 or Y-40? Because astronauts sounds very impressive….
“Yes absolutely! Whilst we aim to cater for commercial users too, the idea is to be a world-class venue and training centre for diving – from freediving to SCUBA, recreational and commercial, including the military and emergency services too.
Our aim is that the whole centre will be inclusive, regardless of physical ability and that the divers that come will appreciate the most modern, up-to-date facilities and equipment (training rooms with state-of-the-art audio and visual, and conferencing facilities), free cylinders of air, in-water high-definition cameras for safety and to record training, etc.”
How did you choose the depth of 50m? Do you think someone else could build an even deeper pool?
“We weren’t originally planning 50m. That decision came about when speaking to some attendees at a diving conference – as they pointed out that 50m is the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (the regulatory authority for ‘diving at work’ matters), maximum limit for diving on air and that maximum depth most dive agencies advocate for air is the same – at 50m – so why would we go just short of that? Someone may build a deeper pool, it is possible, if they do, it will be on my list to go and visit!”
What could scuba diving bring to people’s life by making it easier to discover and practice? Do you think it will encourage more people to go on an adventure?
“From freediving through SCUBA to the more adventurous technical diving, we aim to encourage younger people to become aware of the aquatic world. With free diving, all you really need (dependant on where you ‘dive’), is a good quality mask and perhaps a pair of fins. You can explore the underwater world with inexpensive equipment yet get to become ‘part’ of that underwater environment.
If we can encourage people to then look further at other forms of diving – SCUBA and perhaps even technical diving – then we can help open up the possibilities of even deeper exploration/discovery and adventure. The range of water-related careers is enormous: marine biologist, explorer, archaeologist, scientist, commercial, rescue, instructor and even – astronaut!
There is a fitness element to diving – so it’s good for you with less impact on knees and other joints. By being able to do all sorts of diving (including advanced training), in a safe, year-round facility, I hope we can keep divers ‘in practice’ instead of having a gap over the winter before they start again. In a pool we can control the conditions far more than in open water, so when you do go to an open water site, you have had multiple opportunities to practice, repeatedly. ”
What is your personal experience of scuba diving? Are you a World Adventure Diver?
“This is my 30th year of diving. I have been an instructor for 25 years and have run a diving school and two diving clubs. I have dived in the UK, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Malaysia, the Red Sea and South Africa. I have done some commercial diver training and am looking to become an instructor trainer and qualify with other agencies. Yes I would consider myself a World Adventure Diver, but I haven’t finished yet! Still on my list: Iceland, the Orkney Islands, Galapagos, Australia and the caves in Florida!”
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