People are often drawn to scuba diving by cheery claims that it won't make them break a sweat. The sport's proponents rarely mention physical fitness. "And that," says Michael Bane, "is just plain dumb." Bane, author of Diving on the Edge, complains that divers "are notorious for being out of shape."
How can divers work themselves out of their jellyfish physiques? The answer is obvious: by hitting the pool once or twice a week. Swimming improves cardiovascular fitness, which helps divers use air efficiently underwater, and it also helps them feel comfortable in the water.
Bane has put together a swimming-based workout that will get a reasonably proficient swimmer in good shape for diving within three months. "But before you climb out of your Barcolounger," he says, "get your doctor's approval."
Total Time: About 30 minutes.
Warm-Up: Swim freestyle for 300 meters at a slow, steady pace.
Main Set: Swim five 100-meter lengths, with 30 seconds of rest between each length.
Kick Set: Using a kickboard, kick your way through five 50-meter lengths, taking a 30-second rest between each one.
Cool-Down: Swim 100 meters, any stroke.
Tip: When starting out, take a break whenever you feel fatigued. But make your way through the entire workout. Once your stamina is up, don't rest unless you absolutely have to. By the third month, you should be able to do the workout twice a week.
Coordinates: $14.95. Diving on the Edge: A Unique Guide to Scuba for New Divers. The Lyons Press, 1-800-836-0510