THERE'S a group of enthusiasts in Redditch who regularly have that sinking feeling but never worry about getting out of their depth.

The Redditch Sub Aqua Club meets every Tuesday evening at Hewell Road swimming pool in Batchley.

The club was formed in the late 1960s and is affiliated to the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC).

The club is made up of 45 members, ranging from people in their early teens and a few in their 20s up to the oldest member, who is 63 - and all are at different levels of achievement.

The club follows the BSAC regime for training, which consists of four basic levels - club diver training, sports diver training, dive leader training and advanced diver training.

All the levels consist of a series of lectures but very different water-based activities, starting with a number of pool sessions at club diver training up to diving in quarries and lifting heavy objects from the water at advanced diver level.

It takes about eight to 10 months to qualify as a club diver and three to four years to gain advanced diver status.

All levels above club diver also focus a great deal on safety and first aid issues, such as how to give cardiac massage and how to save another diver's life through artificial respiration in the water.

Redditch's senior diving officer, Dave Brueton, who has been with the club for nine years, said: "Once people have got to advanced diver status , they have really got into diving in a huge way.

"From there they can go on to become a sports leader, a club instructor, a training instructor and then an advanced instructor.

"After this you can go on to become a national instructor, which is the highest qualification, where you sit in on exams for club divers and instructors."

Apart from regular exams where people have to pass physical tests to make sure they are fit to dive, Mr Brueton believes there is one quality which separates an adequate diver from an excellent one.

He said: "You have to be absolutely passionate about this if you want to see it through, especially when diving in the UK.

"Some people have a go on holiday and want to try it when they came back, just so they can enjoy it on their next holiday in warm water.

"But the real die-hards are the ones who are prepared to continually dive in the freezing cold waters here."

And the Redditch club seems to be a prime example of one made up of dedicated members.

Mr Brueton said: "We have six advanced divers, four or five dive leaders, eight instructors and one advanced instructor.

"And all are entirely passionate about everything connected with diving."

The BSAC stipulates that no-one under 14 can start learning to dive with one of its affiliated clubs but Redditch offers snorkelling lessons to anyone aged 12 or over so they can get a head start.

The club also offers taster sessions for people who are unsure if they want to commit to joining a diving club. These last for 15 minutes and are on a one-to-one basis.

l For more details about Redditch Sub Aqua Club, call Mr Brueton on 892502.