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Let’s get physical: life-cycle of a diver

Life cycle of a diver
Fitness on wheels
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Many of the divers either failed to reach the Red Sea wreck or wore themselves out trying to fight their way over. Physical fitness is important for scuba divers, and MIKE WARD reckons he just might have cracked the secret

The wreck of the Kimon M lies close to the northern tip of Abu Nuhas reef. Her skipper was clearly giving it the big licks when she struck; only the stern half is left, the front is shattered and what’s left of her bow is miles away on top of the reef in just a few inches if water.

What’s left makes for a grand dive, however, especially if your definition of a grand dive is influenced by the amount of rust on your suit when you surface. By Red Sea standards, this wreck is well-broken. By UK standards, it’s almost intact.

You reach the wreck by taking a liveaboard to Abu Nuhas, then taking a RIB from your liveaboard to the wreck. Your RIB can go clockwise along the face of Abu Nuhas, always interesting when there’s a sea running or it’s windy, or you can go anti-clockwise, which is longer, smoother and less likely to leave you needing the services of a chiropractor.

It wasn’t very bouncy but we went anti-clockwise anyway, and arrived over the wreck to find that the buoy marking its position was missing. Not an uncommon problem, given that the buoy is usually an empty 5- or 10-litre plastic container of some sort, and not a proper buoy at all. In any case we could see the line on the surface, so in we went.

There is often no water movement over the wreck, and equally often there’s a bit of back and forth surge, especially as you get to the reef and come in shallower. 

physical
Parts of the Kimon M visible at the surface (Wusel007)

Today there was a bit of a run flowing over the wreck and pushing toward the tip of the reef, and we’d been dropped north of the wreck so were being pushed away from it.

Oh well, no big deal, but it was time to fin. Not the usual lazy frog-kick – that wouldn’t get me anywhere. No, it was back to BSAC basics and the big straight leg swinging from the hips that my first instructor taught me. And very shortly it was hello wreck.

Gasping for breath

My dive isn’t important, but I will tell you that if you ever dive Kimon M and come across its propshaft tunnel there is plenty of room to swim though it, but getting out of the forward end is a bit of a bugger.

Anyway, back on the liveaboard and over breakfast the usual post-dive analysis was conducted, at which point it quickly became clear that not everyone had made it to the wreck. Some of those who had reached it had found the terrific run very hard to swim against, and arrived gasping for breath and exhausted.

Four years ago I was 60 years of age and weighed close to 13 stone at 5ft 7 and a half. Kitting up honestly didn’t feel like a struggle, although the heart-rate monitor on my dive-computer begged to differ. Cylinders were somehow getting heavier and diver-lifts were suddenly an important pre-booking consideration.

Once in the water, however, my gas consumption was much the same as it had always been, and I was as relaxed as I had ever been.

That was the years of practice, of course, and really I knew that I needed to do some exercise and lose some weight. Thing is, every time I started to do some exercise it was, ooh, three days max before I’d skip a day, which would then become two days, and then forever. 

And don’t get me started on dieting. Just the thought of it makes me shudder.

40-year lay-off

But work was only eight miles from home and there was an old push-bike in the shed. Even after a 40-year lay-off from cycling, it didn’t take much longer to ride to work than to drive. So I had my exercise without having to find time for it. And, important bonus, no reduction in food intake was required to trim down – quite the opposite in fact. 

Not to mention the money saved that would have been spent on petrol and parking, which was timely because my cylinder failed its test and I had to buy a new one. Only had it 28 years – does nothing last these days?

Life cycle of a diver
The trick is to build exercise into your routine

The upshot is that at 64 years of age I’m still 5ft 7 and a half tall but now weigh only 10 and a half stone and I’m fitter than I have been for years. Twinned-up I can damn near dance a jig, and the only thing stopping me is that I can’t dance. I could certainly swim against that run and get to the wreck without being out of breath.

You don’t need me to tell you that losing some weight and doing some exercise would be of benefit to you, especially if you’re getting a bit older. The trick is to find something that fits your daily routine and stick to it. If I can, you can. 

Also on Divernet: How To Stay In Shape, Do You Need To Be Fit To Dive? (Andy Torbet), Are You Dive Fit? (Mark Powell)

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