Diving – flying under water

Diving with a disability? How does that work? Not many people ask themselves this question. The answer is “yes” – the sport is very suitable for people with disabilities.

Whoever can fulfill certain basic health conditions, can experience the feeling of absolute weightlessness.

In water the difference between disabled and non-disabled people is minimized. A paraplegic diver, for example, can easily move independently under water.

The fascination of diving (photo: Monika Wenninger)
The fascination of diving (photo: Monika Wenninger)

For the athlete an unusual bodily sensation and a real piece of freedom can be experienced. The feeling to be able to float weightlessly through space has fascinated mankind since time began.

Few limitations

Diving is possible with a variety of disabilities. The only exceptions are people who are mentally challenged. In addition, participants should have no problems with their heart and circulatory, respiratory tract, nasal sinuses and the ears. These are however the same basic health conditions, which have to be met by divers without disabilities.

The divers are categorized in accordance with their limitations. There are three levels:

Level "A" - Open Water Diver

• the student has completed all dive exercises successfully
• The graduate has no limitations compared to a diver at the same level from a different association
• The student is allowed to go diving with a certified diver

Level "B" - Open Water Diver

• The student has completed all dive exercises, but has difficulty in an emergency, to save or rescue his direct partner
• The student may only go diving with two certified divers

Level "C" - Open Water Diver

• The student has completed all dive exercises, but has difficulty in an emergency, to save himself.
• The student may only go diving with two certified divers, one of which must hold a rescue certificate.

Training and excursions

In Switzerland, the prospective divers must be trained by the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA). The organization attaches great importance to safety in the training of diving beginners. It starts with the equipment, goes on to the diving preparation and then to the recurring safety exercises. In addition, the HSA trains all the instructors, so that they gain specific knowledge and skills in dealing with disabled divers.

For qualified disabled divers, the wheelchair-divers Zurich offers an attractive programme. In the winter they organise diving training in swimming pools. In summer, the club has the use of a boat house and a boat, so that different dive sites in the lake can be accessed.

In addition, the wheelchair-divers organise excursions to various other waters in Switzerland. Among the highlights are certainly the club organised holidays to wonderful dive sites around the globe.

Pictures: Monika Wenninger
Author: hia - 06/2008- MyH
Translation: PmcC