Is Scuba Diving a Sport?

Is Scuba Diving a Sport?

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For some people, scuba diving allows them to experience the weightlessness and relaxation of the sea while also exploring underwater life. Other people regard scuba diving as a sport that requires athletic ability and consistent practice.

These two opposing viewpoints are why there has been an ongoing debate among divers in the scuba diving community: is scuba diving a sport?

In this article, we dive deep into what makes an activity a sport and whether scuba diving meets the criteria. So, stick around as we answer this age-old question and put this debate to rest once and for all.

Sport vs. Recreational Activity

For the sake of semantics, we must first define the difference between a sport and a recreational activity before debating whether scuba diving is a sport.

Most dictionaries define a sport as any type of organized activity that involves physical exertion and skill. The activity requires an individual or a group to compete against another or others for entertainment purposes. Practice is also an integral part to improve and become better.

A recreational activity, on the other hand, is any activity undertaken for fun and enjoyment. It can be a physical or mental activity that refreshes the body and mind. It also focuses on making leisure time more enjoyable.

Is Scuba Diving a Sport or a Recreational Activity?

Now that we understand the difference between a sport and a recreational activity, we can confidently state that scuba diving isn’t a sport.

To begin with, there’s no element of competition in scuba diving. You won’t have competitors to compete against when scuba diving. As a result, there are no official scuba diving competitions.

What’s more, scuba diving doesn’t always require skills. People who scuba dive on vacation are almost always in the company of professional divers. So all they have to do is follow the diver’s instructions.

As a result, scuba diving doesn’t meet all of the requirements for an activity to be classified as a sport.

That isn’t to say that scuba diving isn’t a challenging physical activity that requires skill. In many cases, scuba diving can be physically demanding, and without a beginner’s certificate, it’s impossible to dive without the assistance of a professional.

Scuba Diving Can Be a Sport and a Recreational Activity

It’s entirely up to you whether you consider scuba diving to be a sport or a recreational activity. There’ll always be debate over what qualifies an activity as a true sport, such as chess and ultimate.

So, semantics aside, you can enjoy scuba diving as a relaxing pastime underwater if that’s what you want.

However, if you take scuba diving as an activity to burn off calories, build endurance, and improve your diving skills, who’s to say that you can’t call it a sport?

Through an unlimited number of courses and certifications, you can learn and improve your diving techniques and skills. You’ll also need to train outside of the water to build the muscles needed to control your body underwater.

You can also add a competitive element by setting practice and improvement goals for yourself.

Are Scuba Divers Athletes?

Scuba diving isn’t a sport per se, but we can certainly consider scuba divers athletes.

By definition, an athlete is someone who excels at sports and other forms of physical activity. Here’s how scuba divers fit the bill.


To become a scuba diver, you need to undergo training and maintain a certain level of fitness as well as diving skills.

One of the prerequisites for becoming a scuba diver is the ability to swim 200 yards without stopping. Another requirement is the ability to tread water for 10 minutes without the use of any buoyancy aids.

While these requirements aren’t particularly athletic, keep in mind that they’re the bare minimum of fitness. Many scuba divers who participate in the sport aim for higher numbers and greater endurance.

Not to mention that scuba diving can burn calories at a rate similar to other forms of physical activity.


As we’ve mentioned before, scuba diving requires a beginner’s certificate, known as the Open Water Diver certification. People who pursue scuba diving often train to earn higher certifications such as Advanced Open Water Diver, Master Diver, and other titles.


Professional scuba divers are also known for their competitive nature. So, the fact that scuba diving doesn’t have official competitions doesn’t hinder them from creating their games and rules.

Divers can compete by comparing the time or number of dives it takes to reach a certain point. They can compare gas consumption rates as well.

Scuba Diving vs. Sport Diving

One of the possible reasons many people believe scuba diving is a sport is due to Sport Diving. This is understandable given that Sport Diving uses scuba diving equipment.

Nevertheless, the difference between scuba diving and Sport Diving is that Sport Diving is done in swimming pools.

What’s more, Sport Diving is recognized as a sport by the CMAS Sport Committee, an international federation that represents underwater activities. It also oversees Sport Diving Competitions and has established rules for the underwater sport.

One of the main objectives of Sport Diving is to allow recreational scuba divers to practice and improve their technique. It’s open for both men and women, and it consists of five international events divided into three individual events and two team events.

It’s worth noting that the events are measured in the metric system because the CMAS Sport Committee is European-based.

Individual Events

The three individual events in Sport Diving are Event M 300 meters, Night Diving, and Immersion 6Kg.

For the Event M 300 Meters, the diver has to cover 300m in a set amount of time. The event is divided into six laps:

  • The diver begins the first lap with scuba equipment, removes it mid-lap, and free swims to the surface.
  • The diver swims the second lap with a snorkel.
  • In the third lap, the diver free dives to find and wear a scuba set.
  • From the fourth to the sixth laps, the diver swims underwater while wearing the scuba set retrieved in the third lap.

In the Night Diving event, the diver wears a blacked-out scuba mask and has three minutes to locate three items placed on the swimming pool’s bottom.

As for the Immersion 6kg event, the diver uses a lifting bag to lift a six-kg weight from the swimming pool’s bottom to the surface.

Team Events

The first team event is a timed Obstacle Course competition. The team is made up of two divers that swim and dive over a 100-meter course while performing specific tasks. To win, the buddy pair has to complete the course in the shortest amount of time.

The second team event is the Briefing, which is also timed. Underwater, a team of four divers receives instructions from their Team Captain before embarking on a search and information-gathering mission.

The scoring system is based on the precision and time it takes a team to complete a task.

Final Thoughts

Scuba diving requires physical strength and provides opportunities for divers to improve, but is scuba diving a sport?

Some people may be surprised to learn that scuba diving isn‘t a sport. The reason is that it doesn’t meet all of the criteria to become an official sport.

Still, scuba diving can be a relaxing hobby that allows you to appreciate the beauty of the sea. It can also be a physically demanding activity that allows you to hone your skills and obtain certification.

So, instead of wasting energy arguing semantics, you can enjoy scuba diving for what it is: a fun, rewarding activity!

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