Scuba diving

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Recreational diver with compressed air diving device

Recreational diving includes diving as a popular sport as opposed to professional diving . Scuba diving is a leisure activity that focuses on physical activity, fun and experiencing the underwater world. A basic distinction is made between scuba diving and apnea diving without technical aids, with the latter also being practiced as a competitive sport. In some countries, recreational diving is subject to special legal regulations and requires special training and approval for the respective dive site .


The original Aqualung diving device.
1: hose, 2: mouthpiece, 3: regulator, 4: harness, 5: back plate, 6: compressed air cylinder

The most original form of diving is apnea diving, which involves diving without an artificial respiratory gas supply. The history of diving begins around 4500 BC. With the harvest of sponges , pearls and corals . In ancient times, divers are said to have been used in combat missions against enemy ships. Helmet diving equipment began to be used at the bottom of water towards the end of the 18th century .

The engineers Benoît Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze invented the first regulator in 1860 . In the early 20th century, new materials were used to invent flippers , diving masks, and other equipment used in modern recreational diving . The first patent for a compressed air diving device was filed in 1943 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Émile Gagnan . A few years later, the further development of this compressed air diving device called Aqualunge enabled the success of recreational diving as a popular sport and revolutionized professional diving in several areas. The books , films and lectures by diving pioneers such as Hans Hass and Lloyd Bridges contributed to the popularization of diving as a leisure activity in the following decades .

In the 1950s, two-hose regulators dominated diving and the first single-hose models were developed. At the same time, the first diving training courses were developed by NAUI , BSAC or YMCA and laid the foundation for today's diving training courses. The first diving safaris in the Red Sea in the mid-1950s heralded the beginning of diving tourism. The buoyancy compensator was invented in 1971 and the first dive computers were offered on the market in the early 1980s .


Diver training level

In order to be able to deal with the diving equipment and the potential dangers of diving, diving training is necessary. Before training as a diver and afterwards at regular intervals, a diver should undergo a diving medical examination by a diving doctor . Successful training is completed with the acquisition of a diving license (brevet). Depending on the diving organization, there are differences in the content and organizational structure of the diving training. The standards ISO  24801, ISO 24802 and ISO 11107 define minimum requirements for diving training, which makes it easier for divers to change training organization. Certain brevets and a medical certificate are required at many diving centers in order to be able to rent diving equipment and to be taken on guided dives. In some countries (e.g. in Queensland , Australia) laws require that every diver has completed diving training.

Often there is an introductory dive before the actual diving training , which offers interested non-divers the opportunity to test the diving sport practically without having to complete an entire diving course.

The training is carried out by various diving organizations such as CMAS (represented in Germany by the VDST ), NAUI , PADI , SSI and others. All diving organizations offer multi-level training in which the student diver can expand his knowledge and skills step by step. In most cases, numerous topic-oriented special courses are also offered. For technical diving, there are special training courses offered by diving organizations such as B. PADI ( TecRec ) and TDI are offered.

Apnea diving

Apnea diver deep diving with monofins.

During apnea diving, the diver does not need breathing air and, with the exception of a mask , fins and suit , usually also without equipment. In sporting competitions, the disciplines are differentiated according to the goal to be achieved: time diving , distance diving and deep diving. In addition to these competitions, other apnea sports are also known. For example, the ball sport underwater rugby is also played apnea.


A special form of apnea diving is snorkeling. The diver or snorkeler swims to the surface of the water using a snorkel and dives briefly to shallow depths without breathing apparatus. Snorkeling is often used to observe the underwater world or to rescue water .

Underwater rugby

Developed in Germany in the 1960s for a more varied design of diving training, underwater rugby has now developed internationally into an independent division of diving. Underwater rugby is the only team sport in which both the ball and the player move in three-dimensional space. The aim of the game held in the plunge pool is to maneuver the ball into the opponent's basket on the pool floor.

Scuba diving

Group of scuba divers

Scuba diving refers to diving with an artificial and autonomous breathing gas supply, in contrast to apnea diving. Typically, the diver carries a scuba set (Scuba) rebreather (rebreather) or, less commonly, a standard diving dress the breathable gas supply with them. A distinction can also be made between technical diving and normal recreational diving. These two disciplines sometimes have different rules, training and equipment . In recreational diving, compressed air or nitrox is usually used as the breathing gas. An oxygen - partial pressure of from about 1.2 to 1.6  bar is toxic to the central nervous system and produces an oxygen poisoning . Such a partial pressure is achieved with compressed air at a depth of 47 to 67 meters. The training organizations for recreational divers therefore define appropriate depth limits. The world's largest diving organizations PADI , SSI , VDST and NAUI limit the maximum diving depth to 40 m. Other organizations allow their members greater depths: among others, the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) 50 m or the French CMAS representative Fédération française d'études et de sports sous-marins (FFESSM) up to 60 m. The increased partial pressure also leads to the saturation of tissues with nitrogen. To avoid decompression sickness , the diving time is limited and desaturation should be ensured by ascending slowly. Diving is usually done in a buddy team or a small group to increase safety . You should only dive solo with special training and equipment . There is a wide range of equipment available for scuba divers .

Scuba diving is the most widespread type of diving in the world today.

Technical diving

Technical diver with sidemount configuration gets ready for a dive .

In technical diving ( Tec Diving ) one uses special breathing gas mixtures , which allow an increase of the diving depth without negative effects on the organism and a shortening of the decompression times. This is to be distinguished from other areas of recreational diving in that Tec Diver choose more difficult diving conditions, e.g. B. greater depths or cave diving . TecDivers rely even more on their equipment than normal recreational divers. Special equipment is also required, such as B. Dive computers specially designed for mixed gases . Typical is the increased redundancy of the vital equipment parts while at the same time limiting it to the essentials for the dive .

The record in deep diving is 332.35 m and was set in September 2014 by the Egyptian combat swimmer and triathlete Ahmed Gamal Gabr.

Ice diving

An apnea diver under the ice.

Ice diving takes place in a frozen lake or sea beneath the ice sheet. To get started, a hole is cut in the ice sheet. Similar to cave diving, ice diving is dangerous in that the diver cannot ascend directly to the surface. The undercooling of the diver and the valve freezing of the regulators also lead to accidents when diving in ice. Only special regulators suitable for cold water are suitable for ice diving.

Drift diving

Drift diving is a scuba diving technique that allows diving in waters with a current . The diver can drift with the current and experience the feeling of flying underwater. Drift diving in rivers , streams and canals can be spectacular, but it is often dangerous. In the sea, lakes and ponds, currents are often less strong, making drift diving less dangerous.

Mountain lake diving

Mountain lake diving in Lai da Marmorera

Since the water, due to the low temperatures, often hardly contains any suspended particles, visibility of up to 60 meters is possible in mountain lakes . Special decompression tables should be used above 300 to 700 meters above sea level, as the air pressure and thus the pressure under water decrease. With increasing altitude, longer decompression times must be observed, while the no-stop times shorten. A deep intoxication or exhaustion can also occur more quickly . Depending on the season, it can be very cold in mountain or inland lakes, which can make appropriate protection from the cold with semi-dry or dry suits and cold water-compatible regulators essential.


In order to shorten decompression times and to extend the no-stop time, or to counteract the risk of decompression sickness caused by surfacing too quickly, the breathing air in the bottle is enriched with additional oxygen . Because of the risk of oxygen poisoning with increasing depth, special training is required, during which the problems of nitrox diving are discussed. Also, depending on the country and the oxygen concentration, special oxygen-compatible equipment is required for Nitrox diving, as oxygen in high concentrations under high pressure can react very aggressively with flammable substances such as oils , fats or rubber .


Trimix is ​​a breathing gas mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and helium , which is used in technical diving to reach very great depths (less than 60 m). By adding helium to the breathing gas, the oxygen and nitrogen partial pressures are reduced to harmless values. This minimizes the risk of nitrogen anesthesia or decompression sickness and oxygen poisoning . Since helium itself, in contrast to nitrogen, has a much longer desaturation time, significantly more decompression stops are necessary when ascending in order to exhale the saturated helium again.

So-called heliair , which is air enriched with helium , is also often used . Heliair is easier to manufacture and therefore a more cost-effective form of trimix.

Cave diving

Cave divers on the way to the dive site in a cave.

For cave diving is between cave diving and cave diving distinguished:

  • In grotto diving , the diver, coming from the open water, enters a short cave or grotto within the direct sunlight zone . So he always has direct line of sight to the exit and the sun, and the dive begins and ends in open water. Typically, such dives are possible in coastal waters in which the freely penetrating surf or current ensures that no problematic layers of fine dust can cause visibility problems.
  • In cave diving , large cave systems are dived and explored. The divers penetrate a cave up to several kilometers deep. The main difference to cave diving is that the cave is entered directly and no open water is dived (exception: spring pond in front of the cave entrance, e.g. Blautopf ). Sometimes a change from cave mountaineering and cave diving is necessary in order to be able to penetrate the cave waters. Often, cave diving is just a necessary means of negotiating siphons that block the way to deeper areas of a cave. Dangers threaten cave diving z. B. through sudden floods (inclusion of the diver or extreme extension of the return path under water) or through the swirling up of fine sludge, which can completely rob the diver of the view and thus the orientation. A line with a connection to the exit is therefore mandatory.

While cave diving can also be done safely by normal recreational divers, cave dives require extensive equipment and special diving skills. These can be learned under professional guidance in special cave diving courses.

Orientation diving

Orientation under water places special demands on the diver: limited visibility, difficulties in assessing a distance covered, movement in the third dimension and different flow conditions. When underwater orienteering is this for competitive discipline: The divers must complete length under water course of several hundred meters. Most of the time, the competitors only have one compass available. In some types of competitions it is also possible to dive with a special diving device and a distance measuring device.

Dive deep

Unlike in Spain or France, for example, there are no legal requirements for diving in Germany or Switzerland. For safety reasons, however, the diving depth is usually limited for normal recreational divers and technical divers. According to the European standard ISO 24801, “deep diving” for recreational divers is a dive from a water depth of 18 or 20 m. This should also be the maximum recommended depth for beginners. Experienced recreational divers are recommended a maximum depth of 30 m, with special training or experience - depending on the training organization - the depth limit can be up to 40 m. Larger depths are reserved for most divers with a tec diver training who know how to use the appropriate breathing gas mixtures for greater depths.

Since a safe ascent to the surface from a depth of 20 m takes about two minutes, these depth recommendations are intended to reduce the risks, e.g. B. a decompression accident, be lowered for inexperienced divers. With increasing depth, the no-stop times decrease and the ascent times increase. Decompression stops at different depths may have to be observed if the maximum no-stop times have been exceeded, which can easily overwhelm beginners.

Wreck diving

Evidence of civilization can also be found under water, such as here in Walchensee
Divers on the wreck of the Ehime Maru

During wreck diving, sunken aircraft , vehicles or ships , their cargo and / or sunken buildings are dived. Wreck dive sites can be found all over the world. Accumulation on a reef or sinking in storms are the most common causes of the sinking of the objects in addition to the deliberate sinking. Once the wreck is on the sea floor, it is often opened up as a habitat by living things. Lower plants, especially algae , corals and other animals settle quickly on the metal surface. This vegetation blurs the clear contours of the object over time and the diver can only make out the wreckage from a distance. This also adds to the fascination of wreck diving. The diver enjoys the mostly diverse flora and fauna on these " artificial reefs ". Well-trained sports and tech divers also explore the interiors of wrecks. However, great caution and safety measures - similar to those used in cave diving - and special training are required.

Night diving

In order to observe nocturnal animals in the water, one has to wait for the sunset. Appropriate diving lamps help with orientation and observation. Special diving signs enable divers to communicate in the dark. A special attraction in night diving is that only objects can be seen in the headlight cone, everything else disappears in the dark. Diurnal animals lie asleep on the bottom or in hiding, while the nocturnal animals go hunting. Night dives should always be carried out in shallow water (5 m - 15 m) and as no-stop dives.

Underwater photography

An underwater case for a digital camera.

Underwater photography is taking pictures underwater while diving , snorkeling or swimming . It is used for scientific purposes, for example in the field of underwater archeology , but also for journalistic, artistic or private purposes. Compared to photography over water, underwater photography is a special challenge for the photographer: The photographic recording is not made in the medium for which the photographic equipment and the film or digital camera is designed, but in the water. For many compact cameras , manufacturers offer underwater housings with a tightness of up to 40 m and more. For SLR cameras , underwater housings z. B. offered by specialized companies.

Diving with disabilities

People with disabilities now also have a wide range of opportunities to practice diving. In addition to the scientific discussion, there is a remarkable voluntary commitment in this area of ​​diving. The training requirements are by no means reduced compared to the non-disabled, but rather increased. The reason is that in spite of the possibly limited abilities of the student diver, the same safety standard must be observed as with a non-disabled scuba diver. Diving guides for the handicapped should ideally be experienced scuba divers with appropriate additional training, in which the future guides are prepared for the special features of diving with handicapped people. In the accompanying cultural program of the Paralympics 2012 , British performance artist Sue Austin choreographed an underwater ballet using a propeller-driven wheelchair she developed herself.

Children's diving

From the age of around 8 it is possible for children to learn to dive with specially adapted equipment in diving courses geared towards children. Children always dive in a buddy team with an adult. The certifications that children can obtain in this way are usually limited in terms of the maximum depth and number of dives per day compared to adult certifications, as there are still no conclusive results on how the changed demands on the body affect the child's organism . Children react differently to dangers or incidents than adults and can thus become an increased risk for themselves and their accompanying adult buddies underwater. From the age of 15 or 16, adolescents are usually admitted to diving courses for adults without restriction. However , diving guide and diving instructor training courses are reserved for young adults aged 18 or 20 years, because these activities can also raise legal questions. Diving instructors are only allowed to teach, test and certify children after additional training that distinguishes them as a children's diving instructor.

Educational diving

Since the mid-1990s, diving education offers for children and adolescents with behavioral problems have increasingly been developed . It is precisely in these areas that a scientific debate is taking place that no longer only deals with the sport itself, but also with psychological , educational and even psychiatric issues. The findings from diving psychology have made a significant contribution to this . Emotional psychological and experiential studies have shown astonishing success and confirm the practical experience of the pioneers in this field. People with intellectual disabilities can also benefit from these results.


When diving, humans enter an environment for which they are not created due to their biological systems and in which they can only survive for a short time without technical support. In addition, there are few other occasions on which a person is confronted so directly with various physical conditions as in scuba diving.

Statistically, diving is a very safe sport. According to the long-standing international statistics from Divers Alert Network (DAN), there were 4.7 fatal diving accidents in one million dives. One million dives corresponds approximately to a total diving time of at least 85 years. In comparison, there were 4.9 per million deaths from drowning in Germany in 2014 . However, each type of diving has its specific dangers and potential risks. It is therefore necessary to complete a solid diving education in order to learn the theoretical and practical knowledge in dealing with diving equipment , diving planning and correct behavior in the water. Diving organizations offer courses in which divers can learn and expand their knowledge and skills.


The main risks are:

In diving courses the diver learns certain behaviors and limits to be observed, which almost completely rule out diving accidents if they are adhered to. Limits result from diving medicine and diving physics .


Environmental hazards represent a risk for divers (selection):

  • poisonous or aggressive aquatic organisms, e.g. B. Poison fish
  • Immersion in closed areas ( cave diving , wreck diving)
  • Entangled in natural or artificial objects (plants, fishing nets )
  • Abortion, even with the planned drift diving
  • To be forgotten e.g. B. reef diving in the open sea (theme of the film Open Water )

With good training, knowledge of the water body and its inhabitants, as well as careful preparation and organization, these risks can be kept to a minimum.



Statutory social insurance

There are no exclusions from statutory health insurance and statutory pension insurance ( statutory social insurance ). Treatment costs after diving accidents are also covered without restriction, as are pension payments in the event of reduced earning capacity . Professional divers are also insured through statutory accident insurance.

Private insurance

When it comes to recreational diving, exclusions apply to many types of insurance. So are z. B. Decompression accidents and typical diving health damage such as barotrauma are excluded in private accident insurance . However, some insurers include these cases through an additional agreement. Even with life and occupational disability insurance , scuba diving is considered an increased risk. Services are often excluded here or can only be insured through an additional agreement. For professional recreational divers, e.g. B. diving instructors , special exclusions must be taken into account in individual cases.


Most diving accidents are considered sudden and unforeseen events under Swiss law and are therefore covered by the health insurances (KVG) and accident insurances (NBU), which are compulsory for everyone living in Switzerland . If an accusation of negligence or the like arises after a diving accident, a health or accident insurance company can oppose the assumption of costs. That is why diving instructors and diving guides in particular should take out additional insurance.

The Suva treated diving under 40 meters of water as a risk sport, which in legal terms according to § 39 UVG and § 50 UVV considered as risk and thus the benefits of the compulsory health insurance or accident insurance can be shortened. Therefore, ambitious recreational divers and technical divers should take out additional diving insurance. This can be included in a supplementary insurance (VVG) or any other policy.

Additional diving insurance can also be useful for people living in Switzerland who dive abroad, as z. B. Hyperbaric chamber treatments abroad are not always covered by health insurance or accident insurance.

For professional divers, different rules apply, which are regulated in labor law.

See also

Portal: Diving  - Overview of Wikipedia content on diving

Individual evidence

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  2. FIRST TO DIVE. Retrieved September 30, 2019 .
  3. EUF Standards for Training Organizations / System. EUF, archived from the original on July 18, 2014 ; Retrieved July 17, 2010 .
  4. ^ Dive Table Rules. NAUI , accessed March 1, 2019 .
  5. DEEP DIVING. Scuba Schools International , accessed March 1, 2019 .
  6. Deep Diver. Professional Association of Diving Instructors , accessed March 1, 2019 .
  7. Dive Leader. Do you want to extend your personal diving skills and plan and lead dives for others? British Sub-Aqua Club, accessed on March 1, 2019 (English): " The training also prepares you to dive to depths of up to 50 meters in a range of challenging conditions, following a series of post-qualification depth progression dives. "
  8. Plongée en bouteille. Plonger en bouteille et se former au sein de la FFESSM. Fédération française d'études et de sports sous-marins, accessed on March 1, 2019 (French): “ ... à partir de 18 ans: brevet plongeur level 3 (P3), autonomy à 60 m . "
  9. a b c d e Thomas Kromp , Hans J. Roggenbach , Peter Bredebusch : Practice of diving . 3. Edition. Delius Klasing Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-7688-1816-2 .
  10. Egyptian breaks world record in scuba diving. Ahmed Gamal Gabr sinks 332.35 meters in the Red Sea. Reported to Yahoo News on September 19, 2014.
  11. 332 meters. Egyptian breaks world record in scuba diving. Report to n-tv from September 19, 2014.
  12. Instructions for Physiology - Practical Course P - 3rd Breathing and Performance Physiology WS 2005/06 ( Memento from June 13, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  13. Recreational diving services - Requirements for the training of recreational scuba divers - Part 1: Level 1 - Supervised diver (ISO 24801-1). ISO , accessed April 29, 2015 .
  14. World's first wheelchair developed for scuba diving
  15. Harald Apelt: A question of teaching? (PDF; 747 kB) Children's diving. (No longer available online.) In: DiveInside. Taucher.Net GmbH, August 5, 2008, archived from the original on November 2, 2013 ; Retrieved November 1, 2013 .
  16. Dagmar Himmel: Workshop for educational diving. (PDF; 270 kB) TC-Aqua, March 25, 2008, accessed on November 1, 2013 .
  17. Diving from a sports medicine point of view - epidemiology. Münchner Verlagsgruppe GmbH, accessed on January 24, 2017 : “Overall, diving is a very safe sport. The Divers Alert Network (DAN) examined 940 accidents that occurred over a period of 10 years. The risk of a fatal diving accident was 4.7 out of 1,000,000 dives. ( The 2010 DAN Diving Fatalities Workshop. ) "
  18. Deaths from drowning in Germany in 2014. Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft eV (DLRG), accessed on January 24, 2017 .
  19. Kathrin Herzer: Poisonous and dangerous marine animals . Verlag Müller Rüschlikon, 2007, ISBN 978-3-275-01601-3 .
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