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MOST humans would probably prefer having their feet firmly planted on the ground. There are, however, a group of Maties who thoroughly enjoy the dark depths of the ocean.

Maties Underwater is Stel­lenbosch University’s official Professional Association of Div­ing Instructors (PADI) five-star Instructor Development Course (IDC) club.

In layman’s terms, this means that Maties Underwater offers a full range of scuba diving educa­tion programs, equipment selec­tion and experience opportunities, and the whole thing is run by stu­dents.

They scuba dive, free dive, do spearfishing, and have profession­als who train students in these ar­eas.

The club’s PADI accreditation ensures that their courses are of a standard, and their courses are affordable for someone looking to get into scuba diving on a student budget.

The club has intermittent events such as Women’s Day dives and informational talks.

Their main events are the reg­ular courses being run, training sessions and frequent ocean dives.

Die Matie spoke with one of the club’s committee members who described their favourite spots.

“Simon’s Town is a great area for students to dive since there are many dive sites with shore entries. We also dive quite a few wrecks and ‘caves’. We’re a big fan of the Smitswinkle wrecks and A-frame dive site,” said the committee member.

Meeting wise, their committee has frequently scheduled meetings while the rest of the club flows on a more ad hoc basis. Meaning that people are able to come and rent gear with other members and head to the ocean or join in on any spon­taneous club dives.

The club aims to have two club dives a week but these have limit­ed spaces to ensure that all mem­bers are safe.

Safety is important to the club and they follow prudent diving practices. The committee mem­ber also spoke of the clubs more informal events, “[We] also host braai’s seeing as the club has such a great social atmosphere too. It’s a really great way to wind down and get some nature time in too.”

Enya Munting joined the club in her first year with the intention of becoming a divemaster. Three years later, she is an instructor at the club and describes how be­ing part of the club allowed her to meet new people and try new things that she never thought she would try.

“I went spearfishing this year and it was amazing, I had the most fun. It was never a sport I thought I’d try, it was always scuba diving for me. Freediving and spearfish­ing have become a lot more inter­esting to me. It’s really diversified my interests, and I’ve seen things I wouldn’t have seen. I’ve learnt about a whole culture.”

Anyone wanting to know more about the Maties Underwater can check them out on Instagram or Facebook (@matiesunderwater).

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