Diving deep

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Posted by on July 01, 2005 at 07:49:55:

One decade ago, Tan Xiaolong went scuba diving for the first time in Beijing simply out curiosity. Today, he is a skilful diver holding accredited certificates and calls himself an enchanted scuba diving enthusiast. Tan is happy to find more people attracted to the activity not merely for the enjoyment of getting deep underwater but also sharing a common interest of life.

Tan claims the amazing atmosphere of a dive is hard to explain.

"The unexpected world under the water you see, with startling beauty rarely seen on the land, will make you speechless. Moreover, you will also be deeply touched by the experiences spent together with people you go diving with," Tan said.

Scuba diving is one of the most popular underwater sports around the world. With specific equipment, a diver is able to submerge and stay below the water's surface for extended periods of time. There are different reasons for scuba diving, including marine research, but recreation is now most likely the prevailing purpose.

Although quite new to China, scuba diving has seen rapid growth in the country.

Working as a busy clerk in the risky asset management division of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's Beijing branch, the 41-year-old uses scuba diving as a much needed distraction. Tan said his biggest hurdle was getting into the sport. Ten years ago, when Tan first became interested in scuba, there were very few formal training services in China. Propelled by his interest and a determination to acquire proper knowledge of scuba diving, Tan studied long and hard on his own and finally obtained accredited certificates. The certificates specify that Tan is not only a skilful diver but also a qualified coach to teach others diving skills. "In fact, there are only 13 accredited people including myself in China who are qualified to train coaches," Tan said.

For Tan, the accredited expertise is not for show but a tool allowing him to better enjoy the activity. His love for the sport has grown deeper than the dives he takes, encouraging Tan and 17 other local dive enthusiasts to set up the Beijing Divers.

Tan actually does not call the group a club, but prefers to refer to the group as "a loosely-organized establishment for people to escape the city's tediousness through activities they all like to do together."

"We do not want to make the club too commercial, but instead into a place where people can have a clear understanding about scuba diving and make new friends," he said.

Over the years, the club has grown quickly to be a major organization for scuba divers in the city and has already attracted about 500 people.

"We have organized many diving activities near Beijing and other parts of China and even abroad. Although we are called a diving club, we spend more time on land than underwater. Our members stay together for days during each diving trip, creating friendships down the road," said Tan. "The friendship will be strengthened after each dive due to the unique buddy system which requires divers to go in pairs in case of an emergency. It boosts the trust between the pair and natures a long-lasting friendship which actually survives the hard test underwater. Many members of our club are close friends and we call each other for dinner or outings from time to time apart from diving trips we host every year."

For more information check out: www.bjdivers.org with Chinese content available only.

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