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RAID invites divers to reboot their SCUBA skills

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Even the most experienced diver knows that “Scuba skills are perishable:” so, if you haven’t been diving for a while, it’s probably time for a REBOOT. RAID’s new program is there to help certified divers who have been unable to dive for a while, refresh their knowledge and bring their in-water skills back to the level needed to be safe, comfortable, and competent once again.

Explaining the new on-line course, VP Training, PJ Prinsloo said: “Scuba Reboot was the missing piece of RAID’s program. Our instructors were telling us that Scuba Reboot would be a terrific addition filling an obvious need right now with so many divers finally getting an opportunity to go diving after what’s been a longer than usual break <between seasons>.”

And Prinsloo added that Scuba Reboot has a couple of additional benefits for divers and RAID’s teaching professions.

“Of course, the primary audience for a reboot is our RAID students, but this course also works for ANY diver who is curious to find out what diving The RAID Way™ is all about. The course is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase what makes our way of teaching and our agency’s approach to dive planning and execution a little different.”

He added that as a one-day condensed refresher, RAID instructors can also use the Scuba Reboot program to assess the skill level and in-water comfort of candidates for RAID ConED programs.

“An instructor who is unfamiliar with a student’s abilities can use this new program as a structured one-day review to be sure that they are ready to take on an advanced RAID program, and that they will get the maximum value from it.”

Every student taking this course must be a certified Cadet Diver, Junior Open Water 20 Diver or Open Water 20 Diver or equivalent from a sister agency. (Minimum age to join this course is 10 years old — with parent or guardian’s permission and with modifications to instructor-student ratios.)

The course includes a comprehensive revision of academic knowledge, and at least one confined water or pool session working on basic skills. An additional open water dive is optional.

After successfully completing the Scuba Reboot program, divers earn a Scuba Reboot e-card to record the completion of their update program.

Contact your local RAID Dive Centre for more details. Current RAID professionals should contact their local Regional Office for the full course standards.

For more information: info@diveraid.com

Freediving Blogs

British freediver sets new national record with 112m dive

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British freediver Gary McGrath has set a new national record at the prestigious Vertical Blue freediving competition in the Bahamas.

Using only a monofin for propulsion, Gary swam down a measured rope to a depth of 112m (367ft), returning to the surface to receive a white card from the AIDA International judges to validate his dive.

Gary, 41, held his breath for three minutes and 13 seconds to complete the dive.

Freedivers descend underwater on a single breath of air and the atmospheric pressure on their bodies increases as they go deeper.

At 112m deep the pressure is 12 times greater than the surface, meaning the air in Gary’s lungs would have shrunk to less than a twelfth of its original volume – around the size of a golf ball.

Freedivers train to cope with the physiological strains placed on their bodies by their sport, and Gary uses his background of yoga and meditation to help his physical and mental preparation for deep dives.

He has also had to overcome physical challenges after contracting Covid last year during preparations for a previous national record attempt.

Gary said: ‘Diving below 100m is a totally unique environment, it’s my therapy. 

‘This year has been extremely challenging for my mental health and freediving has helped me overcome that for sure. 

‘At depth I have complete isolation from the everyday world we live in. Down there it’s just me and nature. It’s that escape that all freedivers crave. 

‘There are moments of extreme mental clarity and purity that I can only achieve when underwater. The flow state that a deep dive allows me to experience is unique and addictive.

Gary, originally from Twickenham, began freediving in 2006 and has been competing since 2008.

A former tree surgeon, he became a professional freedive instructor in 2014, and he and his partner Lynne Paddon run Yoga and Freedive Retreats in Ibiza.

Remarkably, he completed his 112m national record dive on Tuesday (August 9) despite being forced to compete wearing a borrowed monofin which was a size too small for his feet.

His entire kit bag containing his monofin, bifins and two wetsuits was lost by an airline as he travelled to the competition.

Despite his careful preparation, Gary said he suffered nerves on the morning of his national record dive, and relied on a phone call to his partner Lynne, who helped him focus on breathing techniques and visualisation to calm his nerves.

Speaking immediately after his dive, he said: ‘That was all for Lynne – this whole week has been about her. I could not do it without her. I hope that everyone finds someone they can click with, it’s the most magical thing in the world.’

Gary also thanked supporters who helped him to crowdfund to raise the money needed for him to travel to the Bahamas and compete.

Vertical Blue is considered one of the most elite events on the freediving calendar and has been dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of Freediving’.

Owned and run by world record freediver William Trubridge, the event takes place in a 202m (663ft) deep sinkhole known as Dean’s Blue Hole, off the coast of Long Island.

The previous British national record of 111m was set by Michael Board in 2018, also at a Vertical Blue competition.


All Photographs courtesy of Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Film Review: Thirteen Lives

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Ron Howard’s recreation of the 2018 rescue of a Thai junior football team is impressive. Even though we know what happens in the end the tension and drama played out is palpable.

On 23 June 2018, 12 members of a Thai junior football team, the Wild Boars, and their coach became trapped deep in the Tham Luang cave system by rising flood water. The film details the incredible international rescue efforts that ensue. And Ron Howard has judged the tone perfectly. There is no Hollywood glitz and glamour and the two leading actors: Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen, who play John Volanthen and Rick Stanton respectively, capture the intensity of the situation perfectly.

The diving scenes are claustrophobic in the extreme. Although I suspect that the visibility was even worse than the film depicts as you have to be able to see something in the dramatization! All the way through the film I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the extraordinary feat these divers pulled off. The skill and bravery required still impresses after watching films, hearing them speak in public and reading about the rescue.

I loved that, whilst the divers took centre stage in the film, the heroic rescue efforts of the water engineer and his team was also given the attention they deserve, as well as the incredible Thai Navy Seals and the thousands of people that flocked to the region to help.

Thirteen Lives is a must watch movie about an incredible cave rescue. It’s sober tone hits the mark. The cinematography is skilled and creates an impressively tense experience. It is available on Amazon Prime right now.

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