Scuba Diving: Sport or Leisure Activity?

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By guest blogger, Alexandra Dimitriou

Scuba diving sport or leisure?

Scuba diving is fun. Scuba diving is exciting. Scuba diving makes you stronger. Scuba diving makes you happier.

But is it a sport if it’s so much fun?

What’s the difference between a sport and a leisure activity anyway and why does there have to be a distinction between the two?

The textbook distinction of sport and leisure is:

  • Leisure is just playing for fun, even if it is a sport.
  • A sport is something you want to be good or best at (competition)

Confused?

Me too.

Leisure activities to me are those that are relaxing and easy. They bring joy and leave you in a glowing mood.

Is scuba diving joyful? Relaxing? Mood boosting? Check check check!

Sports are more energy burning. They make you fitter and stronger with more endurance. Scuba diving does all of these things too. With time, practice and repetition you’ll improve until you’re a pro. However, there isn’t a competitor element to scuba – so does this mean it is not a sport? Competitive scuba diving? I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I don’t even know what the scoring would entail if it did exist! Perhaps meters swam per 10 bar? How many clown fish you could count in 10 minutes? That sounds pretty silly to me.

In all seriousness though, a sport is something you can master. The PADI System is a tiered one, with each level having a way that you can improve and progress with the goal of becoming one of the PADI elite. Think elite PADI Course Director and you’ll be on the right track.

Scuba diving for leisure UW

But what about scuba diving without labels? For those of us who just dive for fun and do not work in the diving industry? Is scuba diving a sport or a leisure activity?

It’s both, and let me tell you why.

The preparation can be heavy work. If you dive privately, without a dive center to help you, preparation can be a pretty good calorie burner. Lifting tanks from the filling station to your car, house and dive site etc. will build your muscles. If it’s a long or hard walk to your dive entry point you’ll get some cardio too. Over time you will build up endurance and become fitter. The sheer amount of sweat you accumulate on a hot Cypriot day alone should instantly qualify diving as a sport, because it is such a workout!

Then once you enter the water it all changes. In calm water like we have in Cyprus, where there is rarely a current and very little tide, scuba diving becomes a leisure activity. Think about it. Fluttering around with the slightest effort through a zero-gravity environment is soothing to the soul. It’s relaxing and joyful and beautiful. It improves our mood. It’s like our body knows it’s made of 70% water and being underwater is like coming home.

So, scuba diving is the best of both. It makes you strong, but happy. It makes you fit but relaxed. You’re at one with nature, fully immersed and surrounded by it. You forget the troubles that may be worrying you and your office job may as well be on Mars because you are in another world. Each dive is leisure. Each dive is a workout. Each dive makes us thrive and it’s the best activity in the world!

Do you agree? Disagree? What am I missing if you feel differently?