Diving vs Scuba Diving

by Mihai Pinzariu on September 24, 2019

There’s diving from a board into the water, then there’s diving from a boat under the water. Scuba diving, freediving, regular diving… if you’re not a seasoned diver then all these terms can start to get a little baffling!

We’ve already looked at the difference between scuba diving and freediving, so today we’ll explore scuba diving and regular diving (i.e. olympic style diving from a board).

What is diving?

Diving refers to the action of jumping or falling into water from a springboard or diving board. Usually, divers will perform some acrobatics on their way down to the water, like somersaults for example. That makes for a spectacular show to watch, which is why diving is an internationally recognised sport that’s one of the most popular games at the Olympics.

It’s probably more appropriate to compare divers to gymnasts rather than to swimmers. Because of the acrobatic flow during the dive, a lot of divers’ bodies are similar in strength, flexibility, air awareness & judgement to gymnasts and dancers.

What is scuba diving?

Scuba diving, on the other hand, is the art of swimming underwater with a compressed air tank to help you breathe. Far from being an olympic sport – or even a competitive sport – scuba diving is a relaxing adventure under the sea.

To become a scuba diver, you need to undertake an Open Water Diver course that’s approved by PADI, unlike diving which anyone can start doing at any time. People often scuba dive so that they can explore the plant and animal life underwater, making it more of a recreational sport than something that can attract spectators.

Getting started: scuba diving VS diving

So, first thing’s first, if you wanted to start diving, which style of diving is easier for you to get into? We’ll have to go with regular diving from a springboard here.

  • Scuba Diving – Scuba diving is extremely rewarding but difficult to get started in. You can’t even rent scuba equipment without a certification from PADI, and so you’ll have to save quite a bit of money (and reserve some time) to get your qualification before you can begin with your dives. In that way, it’s less accessible and more restricted sport.
  • Diving – If you pop down to your local swimming pool, you’ll probably find a few diving boards lining its edges. Hop on, jump into the water, and you’ve just completed your first dive. Diving is extremely easy to get started, and even kids can start diving into pools from a young age, practicing their movements to become more agile later on.

Equipment: Scuba diving VS diving

When it comes to equipment, you could either be forking out hundreds for equipment or diving with next to nothing at all. In this case, diving again requires less equipment than the art of scuba diving, which needs you to be well-equipped.

  • Scuba Diving – When scuba diving, you’ll be subject to cold water temperatures and high amounts of pressure. Not to mention, you’ll have to be carrying around a heavy gas tank full of air. There’s a lot of investment required before you can get started with scuba diving, including wetsuits, masks, fins, and more.
  • Diving – You can dive with a wetsuit on, or you can dive with just your normal swimmers on. To be honest, you could even dive naked if that’s what you’re feeling. Diving requires no prior equipment, except for a diving board. You might want to take out a membership at your local olympic pool to practice your dives, but that’s probably as far as the investment will go.

Safety: Scuba diving VS diving
How safe are either of these activities? Could little kids start practicing them? Safety is a tricky one in this regard, and we’d say it almost comes out equal between the two.

  • Scuba Diving – When you’re underwater, there’s a lot of stuff you have to stay aware of. Your depths, the water pressure, how much oxygen is left in your tank, and so on. There are a lot of risks out there, and that’s why a certification is so essential. Kids under the age of 10 can’t learn to scuba dive, and that’s for good reason.

That said, once you’ve completed your certification then you should be well-versed in all aspects of scuba diving safety. Even then, though, the risks are high and many people have lost their lives in the middle of a scuba diving adventure.

  • Diving – Safety while diving is also an important consideration, especially for young children. It’s important to know how high you’re diving from and how your body will respond to hitting the water. Diving from too high of a distance and landing incorrectly can cause injury to the body.

At the same time, diving into water that is too shallow can cause you to hit your head on the ground and cause injury that way. Before letting your kids go out and dive at the pool, make sure you’ve given them a very thorough run-down of diving safety before they begin.

Progression: Scuba diving VS diving

If you’re looking to get into an activity that you can continue to develop over time and expand your skills, then scuba diving might pose some limitations while diving can continuously evolve.

  • Scuba Diving – Due to safety measures and regulations, scuba diving is a restricted sport that you can’t just go out and do anyway you like. With an Open Water Diver certification, you can dive up to depths of 40 metres only. If you want to explore further than that, you’ll have to advance your knowledge with another certification.

This is where scuba divers often hit a block in their progress. Certifications can be expensive and extremely time-consuming for something that’s just a hobby, causing plenty of people to give up and keep scuba diving as a holiday affair. There are rules in regards to progression, and to go further you might have to dedicate a tonne of time.

  • Diving – On the other hand, diving is barely regulated. You’re free to experiment with different dives and styles as you wish, and to push yourself harder and further without being afraid of breaking the rules. You can try to do more somersaults, do back flips, land in the water without splashing, and continue to evolve your practice over time without having to spend more money.

Exploration: Scuba diving VS diving

If you’re looking for a water sport that can get you out there exploring the best the underwater world has to offer, then scuba diving is what you should be going for.

  • Scuba Diving – With this certification (and equipment), you can stay underwater for extended periods of time, swimming amongst the fish, coral, and sea life. It’s a completely unparallelled experience that takes you up close and personal with nature’s best aquatic mysteries. When travelling to seaside destinations, scuba diving is the best way to get a deep look into the area where you are and learn all that makes it unique.
  • Diving – Diving is the same no matter where you go. If you’re diving at your local pool or the pool in a city in a foreign country, it’s the same experience. There’s not much to explore when diving, and no connection with sea or underwater life. Even running can offer more of an opportunity to explore, with all the changing landscapes, but diving just shows you the view from the diving board all the way down to the water. Rinse repeat!

Scuba diving VS diving

As two very different activities, scuba diving and diving have different things to offer, depending what you’re looking for. If you’re wanting an underwater adventure that takes you up close and personal with nature’s sea life – and don’t mind spending a bit of money in the process – then scuba diving is your sport. But if you’re keen for something safe and cheap that you can start immediately and evolve with you over time, then diving is better for you.

Which activity do you prefer – scuba diving or regular diving? We’d love to hear!

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