British Sub-Aqua Club

British Sub-Aqua Club
Abbreviation BSAC
Motto Dive with friends
Formation 15 October 1953 (1953-10-15)
Type NGO
Legal status Limited Guarantee Company incorporated in England
Purpose Recreational diving services, training and advocacy
National governing body
Headquarters United Kingdom
Region served
30,000 in 2009
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Alex Warzynski[1]
Mary Tetley[2]
Main organ
BSAC Council
Affiliations EUF

The British Sub-Aqua Club or BSAC has been recognised since 1954 by the Sports Council as the national governing body of recreational diving in the United Kingdom.[3]

The club was founded in 1953 and at its peak in the mid-1990s had over 50,000 members declining to over 30,000 in 2009. It is a diver training organization that operates through its associated network of around 1,100 local, independent diving clubs and around 400 diving schools worldwide. The logo (pictured right) features the Roman god Neptune (Greek god Poseidon), god of the sea.

BSAC is unusual for a diver training agency in that most BSAC instructors are volunteers, giving up their spare time to train others, unlike many other agencies, in which instructors are paid employees, or self-employed.

Given that UK waters are relatively cold and have restricted visibility, BSAC training is regarded by its members as more comprehensive than some. Specifically it places emphasis on rescue training very early in the programme. BSAC also maintains links with other organisations, such as NACSAC.

Science writer and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke was a famous member of BSAC.[4]

The current President of BSAC is the Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. His grandfather, Philip, father, Charles, and his brother, Harry all trained with BSAC.[5]


For earlier events, see Oscar Gugen.


The BSAC is recognised by Sport UK as the National Governing Body (NGB) for ‘Sub Aqua’ within the United Kingdom. It has held this status since 1954. Sub Aqua (or Sub Aquatics) is a broad term that includes both recreational underwater activities such as recreational diving and snorkelling, and competitive underwater activities including underwater sports such as underwater hockey. It is also recognised by Sport England as the NGB for ‘Sub Aqua’ in England.[3][12]

BSAC is one of four NGBs representing 'Sub Aqua' in the constituent countries of the United Kingdom. The others are the Northern Ireland Federation of Sub-Aqua Clubs (Northern Ireland), the Scottish Sub Aqua Club (Scotland) and the Welsh Association of Sub Aqua Clubs (Wales), with the British Sub Aqua Club being the NGB for the United Kingdom as a whole; a role it has held since 1954.[3][12]


The BSAC has offered two separate training schemes since the 1950s - the Diver Training Programme (DTP) for scuba diving and the Snorkeller Training Programme (STP) for snorkelling.

Diver Training Programme


BSAC currently has five diver qualifications (known as grades). These are:[13]


BSAC has eight instructor grades:[14]

Grades no longer awarded

The following grades which are no longer awarded may still be encountered:

The distinction between Novice I and Novice II was mostly for practical reasons to do with the difference between hiring a pool and travelling to the coast. A Novice I diver would normally complete the two open-water dives as soon as possible, but if this were not possible straight away (perhaps over winter) they would at least have a specific grade within the club. The lengthy and club-oriented Novice syllabus was replaced with the Club Diver and Ocean Diver syllabuses in the late 1990s. (However, some argue the Novice description was usefully accurate and aided diver safety because nobody with such a qualification would attempt dives beyond their capabilities.)

CMAS equivalencies

The following CMAS equivalencies have been agreed with the Sub-Aqua Association.[17][18]

CMAS 1 Star Diver BSAC Ocean Diver, Club Diver or Sports Diver
CMAS 2 Star Diver BSAC Sports Diver with 10 logged dives or BSAC Dive Leader
CMAS 3 Star Diver BSAC Advanced Diver
CMAS 4 Star Diver BSAC First Class Diver
CMAS 1 Star Instructor BSAC Club Instructor + BSAC Advanced Diver
CMAS 2 Star Instructor BSAC Open Water Instructor + BSAC Advanced Diver
CMAS 3 Star Instructor BSAC Advanced Instructor + BSAC Advanced Diver

Skill development/specialities

The BSAC also has a range of specialist skill courses known as Skill Development Courses (SDCs):[19]

Club Diving:

Safety and Rescue:


Special Interest:

Mixed gas open circuit:

  • Sport Mixed Gas Diver
  • Explorer Mixed Gas Diver
  • Advanced Mixed Gas Diver

Rebreather/mixed gas rebreather:

  • CCR Inspiration Evolution/Vision Diver
  • Sport Mixed Gas CCR Diver
  • Explorer Mixed Gas CCR Diver
  • Advanced Mixed Gas CCR Diver

EUF Certification

The BSAC obtained CEN certification from the EUF certification body in 2007 and re-certified in 2012 for the following scuba diver grades:

Snorkeller Training Programme

The BSAC has four snorkeller grades:[22]

The STP has three snorkel instructor grades: Snorkel Instructor, Advanced Snorkel Instructor and Snorkel Instructor Trainer. BSAC scuba instructors can also teach all or parts of the STP subject to meeting pre-requisites including additional training.[23]

See also

Diving theory and technique





  1. "BSAC Council". British Sub-Aqua Club. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  2. "BSAC HQ". British Sub-Aqua Club. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 Geraint, J.; Campbell, K (1996). Handbook of sports and recreational building design. 3. Sports Council, Technical Unit for Sport. Architectural Press. p. 191. ISBN 0-7506-2256-3. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  5. "HRH The Duke of Cambridge takes the lead at BSAC". British Sub-Aqua Club. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  6. Vallintine, R. The Club: A celebration of the history of the British Sub-Aqua Club 1953-2003. Circle Books. ISBN 978-0-9538919-5-5.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 BSAC. "Section 1.1 A Brief History of the British Sub-Aqua Club". BSAC. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  8. "C.M.A.S.". Luigi Ferraro's official site. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  9. Adkisson, G (1991). "The BS-AC '88 decompression tables". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 21 (1). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  10. 1 2 Allen, C (1996). "BSAC gives the OK to nitrox. reprinted from Diver 1995; 40(5) May: 35-36.". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 26 (4). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  11. "(CMAS / BSAC) The Chronology". Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  12. 1 2 "Sporting activities and Governing Bodies recognised by the Sports Councils" (PDF). UK Sport. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  13. "Diver Grade Training Courses". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  14. "Instructor progression flowchart". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  15. Sport Diving: The British Sub Aqua Club Diving Manual, 1985, Stanley Paul & Co. London, page 244.
  16. Sport Diving: The British Sub Aqua Club Diving Manual, 1985, Stanley Paul & Co. London, pages 244 & 245.
  17. "CMAS Equivalency Cards". BSAC. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  18. "Club Crossover Guidance Chart Re Equivalent Qualifications," (PDF). Sub Aqua Association. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  19. "Skill Development Courses (SDCs)". British Sub Aqua Club. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  20. "EUF Certified Training Systems/Training Organisations". EUF Certification International. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  21. "BSAC EUF accreditation maintained". British Sub-Aqua Club. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  22. "Snorkel Grade Training". BSAC. Archived from the original on 26 March 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  23. "Become a Snorkelling Instructor". BSAC. Retrieved 11 January 2013.

External links

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