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Underwater Club given vital support from Coaching Development Programme

20 December 2017

President of the University of Bristol's Underwater Club Ivan Horoshenkov talked to us about how Sport, Exercise and Health's Coaching Development Programme has provided them with the ability to maintain their instructor numbers.

"The University of Bristol Underwater Club (UBUC) has the largest training programme of BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) scuba divers anywhere in the UK. We have a constant inflow and outflow of instructors every year due to students starting or finishing university. In some years, many of our instructors remain in Bristol either on post-graduate/undergraduate courses or as alumni in the area. In other years, we occasionally have a number of instructors leave Bristol, which leaves us in a position where we are not able to meet the demand for training. The University's Coaching Development Programme has allowed us to keep our club flourishing by making sure we have qualified students ready to keep club members safe and happy.

"It takes time to safely train a scuba instructor, and a scuba instructor must meet a certain standard in order to train new divers. The amount of time it takes to become a full open-water instructor, therefore, is usually longer than a student's time at Bristol. The course that the students complete qualifies them as an assistant instructor, enabling them to teach with us in the pool (Instructor Foundation Course). They must complete more qualifications to qualify as an Open Water Instructor. Many of our students do go on to become Open Water Instructors, and the IFC is the key factor in starting this process. The more students we are able to put through this first hurdle, the more self-sufficient our club becomes. Assistant instructors are also extremely important for helping us make full use of our pool time, which is one of our greatest costs.

"We currently have a shortage of OWIs due to a lot of older members leaving the club in the past few years, and as such we currently only have 4 active fully qualified instructors for about 60 trainees. All of our instructors are volunteers; this is how we are able to provide an affordable service to Bristol students. Those who are not current students are alumni or other volunteers (none of whom have applied for funding). The training course to become an instructor is however rather costly, and we do our best to ensure our volunteer instructors are not in debt as a result of giving up their time to the club. The grant from the Coaching Development Programme is extremely valuable to the functioning of our society.

"We believe we also provide a valuable service to students at the University, especially within the fields of biology and zoology. Alumni of our club have used their skill to go on to fields such as marine biology, wildlife film production (we have two alumni involved in the production of the BBC's Planet Earth) and conservation. Therefore, in addition to providing the most inexpensive method of taking part in this hobby, we offer a skill that opens up numerous career opportunities."

Further information

Find out more about the Underwater Club or follow them on Instagram for cool pictures of shipwrecks and seals!