It’s a little bit odd looking into a giant aquarium, only to see – not tuna or sharks – but strange limbed beings in masks and flippers.
For once I haven’t come to gawp at fish. Did you know that Nemo 33 in Brussels is the deepest indoor swimming pool in the world? I didn’t, but recently I took my first ever scuba diving session here in the warm water, under the careful supervision of Filippo, one of the diving coaches. He patiently shepherded me as I practised sinking, hand signals, breathing, mask-clearing and trying to advance without rolling in circles according to the whims of my waistcoat. By the end of the lesson I was finally making progress, and we descended the rope down to the five meter bottom and peered through the glass windows trying to catch sight of the diners in the restaurant.
The Nemo pool is divided into various different compartments. Filippo beckoned us over to see down into the 10 metre area, and then I nervously sneaked a look into the abyss of the 33 metre pit. I could not see the bottom and was very glad not to be going down there!
My one hour introduction to scuba diving cost 45 euro per person, with a maximum of two people sharing the instructor. However there are different levels of courses available, not just in French and Flemish, but in English and other languages. All equipment (fins, masks, waistcoats and oxygen tanks) is supplied, and for hygiene reasons the only personal dive equipment you can use are your fins and dive mask. Divers not accompanied by an instructor must have a buddy and a dive computer. Certified divers pay 22 euro a session. Non-certified or those with less than a PADI Open Water certificate pay 30 euro. 15 minutes before your allotted time a bell rings to summon you to the changing rooms, and shortly before time’s up a bell will ring in the depths to tell you to begin your ascent….
Afterwards you could try your luck and have a drink or dinner in the Thai restaurant, with a view of the divers. However after 25 minutes of bubble watching without acknowledgement I was getting annoyed and hungry – so I gave up and went home!
I’d advise you to book well in advance and read the Dive briefing and other information available online.
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