A new family-focused system designed to help young divers develop confidence underwater safely has been launched by STEPDive.
The STEPDive system, which is being premiered at the DEMA show in Las Vegas, involves divers using surface supplied air, with the scuba tank cradled between two pontoons floating on water on a large, robust raft.
Engineered for family use, the patent-pending control system allows a diver to be securely confined to an age and experience appropriate depth, without restricting their freedom of movement to explore.
The idea behind this is that a child can be secured at the surface while having in-water experience with a regulator, so they get a feel for scuba diving but without the risk level. This is made possible by controlling their depth with a buoy/float on the surface which can be adjusted depending on their age and experience level. The product is suitable for divers aged four upwards, so adults can use this too.
Tieman van Dillen, founder and inventor, told Scuba Diver that the company is pushing for dive schools to use this product in its trainings. He said: “I am hoping this product will be used for courses, but at the moment we’re just producing and designing the equipment. We’re in talks with dive organisations to get them to bring this product into both full and specialty courses.”
The raft is also designed to be used as an ‘island’ base station in the water and can be used for dropping off gear during dives.
The diver can reach a depth of 5.5m underwater – the full length of the hose – and up to three divers can dive from it. The real focus of this product though is on getting used to buddy diving and being calm underwater, so that by the time the young person is 10 or 12, they can start their junior open water diver course and feel confident in the water.
It went on sale in Europe in May, and is already being used by some dive schools there, but only for Try Dives, not yet for training.
CE approved, the behaviours, techniques and usage of STEPDive are identical to regular scuba, so normal servicing is required. The idea is that this system offers a strong foundation and proficiency in scuba safety behaviours and techniques that will be valuable to the student when they continue with their training.
Prices start at around $899-$949 USD / 950 euros for the system which adjusts to fit any body or age from four years up. It also packs down into a carry on suitcase or stow away on a boat.
Check out www.stepdive.com for more information.