After much thought and discussion, members of Penrith Divers have decided that being part of ScotSAC is no longer in the club's best interests and have made the momentous choice to change our governing body. The club will now join the Sub-Aqua Association (SAA) and begins the challenging but invigorating process of learning and understanding a new training regime and organisational methodology. Early signs are looking good that the SAA will help to move our club forward in exciting ways with a lot of input and opportunities to engage with other clubs all over the UK. Thanks and best wishes to all those involved in ScotSAC, who have given help, encouragement and support to Penrith Divers and its members over the past 40 years.
There was a good turnout of club members to take part in our Christmas fun session. Two teams raced against each other to complete a variety of challenges from collecting bits off the bottom of the deep end for the snorkellers to swapping kit for the more experienced divers and many other things in between, including a quiz about various aspects of the pool and surrounds.
Unfortunately time ran out for the egg and spoon race so that can be something for another day!
Isn’t technology wonderful? Three types of technology certainly worked well together for Penrith Diver David Bell recently. Taking part in what he thought was just an undemanding explore of a new site, David was amazed to stumble across a mystery object which he initially took to be for writing notes. Closer investigation showed it to be a mobile phone in a waterproof case so he brought it back to the surface to look in more detail. This highlighted the first part of the amazing technology trio as the case had managed to keep the phone completely dry despite being submerged in more than 5 meters of water for some time.
The second player in the technology story was the phone itself. In spite of being completely out of charge, just a few minutes with a battery pack and it was up and running again and showing a lovely picture of its owner on the front screen.
Unfortunately, there were no emergency contact details saved so next came the biggest challenge - could that owner be located? This is where the third, and sometimes reviled, technological saviour came in. The wonders of social media! Reasoning that the phone must have been dropped when out on the lake, messages were posted in groups on Facebook that had a connection to either wild swimming in Cumbria or lake Ullswater. By the end of the day, multiple people had recognised the picture from Twitter and got in touch with the owner.
Amazingly, the circle was completed and the phone returned after sitting at the bottom of the lake for over 3 months.
It’s astonishing what sort of things you can find out in the lakes!
Picture the scene - your mother sadly passes away, leaving you a fabulous woven gold bracelet as a keepsake. You safely lock it away, resolving only to bring it out for very special occasions. A few years pass and your son decides to get married - a special occasion indeed and a very fitting chance to bring your mother's memory along too.
The ceremony progresses beautifully and now it's time for some photographs with Lake Ullswater as a stunning backdrop. All is going well until you are helped up from sitting on the jetty and tragedy strikes! The clasp of your precious bracelet comes undone and it drops into the water below.
Wading into the lake is no good as there is a steep drop before reaching the place the bracelet fell. Even the best efforts of a passing wild swimmer are to no avail! What next? Call in Penrith Divers to see what they can do.
David and Katie took up the challenge and set off on a drizzly evening to attempt the almost impossible. After a chat with the hotel's wedding co-ordinator, George, who had strategically marked the site of the incident, they suited up and got going. The plan was to set off from either side of the post in question - having been careful to walk out a good distance away from the jetty to avoid stirring up the silt - and meet up in the middle for a second sweep. As luck would have it none of this careful planning was necessary as Katie managed, having spent a short time trying to get her bearings and figure out exactly where the jetty was underwater, to swim right over the top of the bracelet's resting place amongst the weed. All that remained was to have a quick look around in case there was anything else there to find, attract David's attention and re-surface to inform the curious young holiday makers who had stopped to see what was going on about what we had been doing.
All in all an extremely successful mission with a very happy lady (and a good write up in the Herald) at the end of it :-)
I HAD my chance. Clear blue waters with temperatures of around 28C, the world’s largest coral reef system, home to some of the most vulnerable and endangered species in the world … I came close to learning to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef when visiting Queensland, Australia, more than 10 years ago.
Circumstances went against me and it never happened, but the desire to try it never went away. So when Penrith Divers offered me the chance to give it a go at their weekly training sessions at Penrith swimming pool, I literally jumped at the opportunity to take the plunge.
Unsure what to expect, I was a little daunted by the number of experienced divers around me, but my instructor, Richard Govan, soon put me at ease and everyone was keen that I enjoy the experience.
Charlotte Skelton, from Morland, who started diving ahead of a school trip to Indonesia seven years ago, loaned me her kit. The 24-year-old wanted to do some underwater studies during her visit, so it made sense for her to learn how to dive before she went. Her dad, Dave, decided to go along too and is now an instructor and chairman of the club.
Just a few minutes of introducing me to the kit and some safety advice and I was straight into the water, tentatively ducking my head at first, just to check I was breathing correctly. Breathing only through your mouth, using tanked air, takes a little practice, but I soon felt comfortable and was off to the deeper waters, with Richard closely in tow, in case I felt uncomfortable or was struggling in any way.
Kicking too hard, I was zooming ahead at first, but after I learned to relax, clear my mask if it let water in, and became more at ease with the buoyancy of my vest (BCD), I began to enjoy myself.
“Have you ever done gymnastics?” asked Richard after a while.
“No …” I replied tentatively, unsure what he was going to ask me to do!
“Well, you’re going to do a forward roll,” he announced, confidently.
“No, I’m going to land on my head …” I thought to myself, with confidence falling short of his own. But sure enough, after watching Richard demonstrate, to my surprise (and I do believe to Richard’s if he’s honest!), I managed some underwater acrobatics too, completing an unaided forward roll under the water. I do believe I’ve already caught the bug! Scuba diving clearly appeals to people of all ages. The oldest member at Penrith Divers is 70 and the youngest 16.
Secretary David Bell is holding the mantle for the older generation and has been scuba diving for 14 years, after starting on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand, in 2003.
Despite being in his 50s when he started, he felt he was “never too old to learn” and after five days of thorough training, did his first open water dive at Sail Rock and was hooked. David joined ScotSAC and Penrith Divers in late 2008 and attained sports diver level in the first 12 months, finished master diver training in March, 2012, and qualified as a branch instructor in early 2014.
He has now clocked up 400 dives in places ranging from Ullswater to Zanzibar and the Maldives.
Dylan Beattie, aged 16, and his brother Josh, 18, are the next generation at the club, with Dylan qualified as an open water diver and Josh a qualified sports diver.
While diving equipment is not cheap, the benefits of learning with a club include the fact you can borrow kit until you are certain that diving is for you.
All that is needed to start out is a club membership, which gives you all your training at the pool for the year for free, and membership of the training accreditation organisation ScotSAC. Penrith Divers meet at the town swimming pool every Sunday morning between 9 and 10am. For more information, visit penrithdivers.co.uk.
A fantastic slideshow from founder member Frank James (with a little assistance from Andy Holliman) gave many former members the chance to meet up once again, as well as offering the current members some insight into what had gone before.
Grateful thanks to Claire and Steve Bland for all their time and effort with catering, lighting management and location facilitation. A good time was had by all.