TIME TO DIVE
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Y-40 the deep joy!
- 5 december 2015 -
The deepest pool in the world!
As Belgian diver, I have always been very proud of “our” Nemo 33, with its -33 meters (-100ft) the deepest pool in the world during 10 years (from 1/05/2004 until 5/6/2014). Many people in the diving world knew this and while travelling around the world during the last 10 years, many times we answered a specific question with: “Yes, we already dived Nemo 33 several times”.
But now, we have a problem… we are beaten by the Italians!
Last year “Y-40” (read it as ‘why 40?) celebrated its opening ceremony. What’s in a name? You might already guess, the pool is -40 meters (-120ft) deep and situated in a regional natural park of the Euganean Hills in Italy, close to the city of Padova, about 30 minutes driving from Venice.
Compared to the USA, Europe is not that big, but travelling all the way to Italy from Belgium (about 1000km/665miles), just to do 1 dive in a pool sounds a bit crazy. So I waited patiently for the right moment to come, and that moment came on November 29th.
I wanted to celebrate the birthday of Jean-Marc Claes (NAUI Instructor #40992 and NAUI Representative Belgium) but also my partner “in crime” and dive buddy, but ths year I wanted a special style-birthday. As Jean-Marc did not wanted to celebrate his birthday in a cold and rainy Belgium, I organized a 3 day trip to Venice combined with a couple of dives in Y-40. From Brussels, it’s only a one hour flight but off course, on returning I had to integrate our no-fly time after diving into the travel plan as you might know: flying and diving are not best friends.
The trip worked out perfectly, the ideal ingredients to combine Italian culture and diving were at our disposal. Our outbound flight was very early in the morning, which gave us a complete day of strolling around in Venice, watching the busy boat traffic in the Grand Canal, getting lost in the small ancient alleys. Bumping on dead end alleys where it’s impossible to cross the water canals happens all the time. Trained as we are in underwater navigation, we still had a hard time with orientation in this maze of alleys and small water canals and yes, we did got lost a couple of times and walked many more kilometers/miles than planned. But I have to admit, getting lost in Venice is the perfect way to discover the beautiful town. While getting away from the crowded touristic places, we bumped into very traditional “Osteria’s” and “Trattoria’s” (local pubs) where you can try the Italian finger food and drink the oh so delicious Italian wines! Off course, we tried several glasses euh fingers!
In the afternoon of the second day, after spending another great morning strolling through Venice, we said goodbye to the village and headed towards Montegrotto Terme, the village where Y-40 is situated. Only 45 minutes of driving later we checked in in the Hotel Terme Millepine where the pool is build next to the hotel, integrated inside the compounds.
Y-40 is (at this moment) the world’s deepest pool, measuring 21m x 18m on the surface and filled with 4300 cubic meters of thermal spa water. The temperature is constantly maintained at 32-34 °C which offers the freedom of diving without wetsuit and without being chilly by the end of the dive, no matter how long you are in the water.
The pool, designed by Emanuele Boaretto and built with 100 % Italian materials, is situated in the 4-star complex of Hotel Terme Millepini and offers special packages combining hotel accommodation and dive sessions, special massages or other wellness treatments.
The maximum depth of the pool is 40m (120ft) but Y-40 has to offer much more than only the record breaking depth. The pool is built with various intermediate depths to teach Scuba Diver courses but you can even teach a cave dive course. The pool houses a complete artifical cave system which is specifically built to fulfill all necessary cave dive conditions. Besides diving, Y-40 supports a wide range of other activities all year long like freediving, all kind of swimming courses, team building events and some other special activities.
The atmosphere in Y-40 is very relaxed, we were even granted an earlier dive session than expected and after a short briefing, we could set up all dive equipment (everything provided by Y-40) and sponsored by Aqua Lung and enter the lovely warm water to set out for our first dive in Y-40. The huge pool was completely ours, we only had to share the surface with the national team of synchronized swimming from Italy. They were training a full week in the warm waters of Y-40 to prepare for the upcoming Olympic Games.
My experience from diving other artificial indoor dive sites is that most of these pools avoid the combination of other activities with scuba diving but actually this time, it gave an extra dimension to our dive. It was very impressive to watch the underwater choreography of the swimming team from another angle than you are used to, not from the surface, but from far below!
We headed to the bottom at -40m (-120ft) depth….so smoothly…… no thermocline, no bad visibility, no darkness!
Our dive computers did not allow us to stay a long time at the bottom before entering into decompression (which is allowed by Y-40, but we decided not to make our first dive in Y-40 a technical decompression dive) so after exploring the bottom for a few minutes and comparing the precise depth on the different computers we were using, we started the ascend well within the no-decompression limits. At- 13m (-40ft) we found a fitness bike and of course we trained our underwater biking abilities a bit. Together with Jean-Marc, I explored the cave system (we are both certified cave divers) and we finished our dive, having fun with people walking through an airfilled underwater tunnel located -5m (15ft) and giving non-diving visitors a complete sight into the underwater world of Y-40.
Y-40 has many more surprises, they even developed a system to play music under water. Ask your special request before you enter the water and you can dive while listening to your favorite song.
Our second dive that day, being November 30th, the birthday of Jean-Marc, was a real night dive and also the deepest night dive I have ever made. All the lights in the pool were turned off, creating a very special feeling once you enter the water. We dropped down to- 40m(120ft) in complete darkness, accompanied with only 1 torch. Jean-Marc was carrying a wide angle torch that lightened the complete shaft of the pool at once, it was a magic feeling to see the air bubbles going up in the beam of light. While night diving, Y-40 staff turns the lights gradually on again, starting from the very bottom, so while further along into the night dive, you had back into daytime, talking of a smooth transfer from night into day.
2 dives in Y-40, both very different…We had a great experience!
This trip was planned for a personal goal (Jean-marc’s birthday) but also a bit of a test case! Why? Because we run a dive business in Belgium (Time To Dive) and this visit turned out to be a great trip to offer to our customers. The staff at Y-40 is very professional and friendly. As we run our own dive centers in Belgium, we worked out a way to cooperate in the future with Y-40, giving us the possibility to teach courses (both recreational and technical) and have fun in this huge pool with small groups of divers. What more do we want…combining our job with travelling and as a huge bonus, we can get lost again in Venice. Next time, we will take our compass along!
Do you like more information about Y-40, check out their webpage:
firstname.lastname@example.org TIME TO DIVE Hasselt / Leuven / Halen www.TIMETODIVE.be