While people often have to pay dearly to learn scuba diving, students of Jiangsu University of Science and Technology can learn the sport for free.
They're trained in scuba diving theory for half a semester before they set foot in the water. Then they put their learning to the test in the university's 2-meter-deep swimming pool and finally in on-campus Haiyun Lake.
To apply for the course, the students must know how to swim.
Scuba diving differs from other sports, said Li Ming, one of the course's two teachers. Safety can only be guaranteed if the students master sufficient knowledge of the skills and techniques.
Even after half a semester of theoretical training, the students meet various difficulties when attempting their first dive. To start with, they have to put on the unwieldy equipment that weighs more than 20 kilograms.
But many were undaunted.
It's kind of a luxurious sport to me, said Zhang Jiayi, a junior at the university who started to swim at age 5. I never thought that a course like this would be offered to us.
It was extremely hot when you get into your wetsuit, and then extremely cold when you get into the water, she said. It was a surprise to hear classmates scream when they slowly stepped into the pool. It was such an experience to feel the 'fire and ice' in such a short time.
Chen Yu, director of the university's school of physical education, said they purchased 16 sets of scuba diving equipment and an air compressor last year.
We're the first university in Jiangsu to offer scuba diving lessons, and we now provide the course to recreational sports majors, he said. But in the future, the course will be an option for all students.
Sun Lin, deputy director of the school, said that the university organized the national qualification examination for scuba diving coaches in 2017. More than 20 students from the university obtained the certificate to be professional scuba diving coaches. The school also sent its teachers abroad to get further professional education.
Besides scuba diving, the university also offers courses such as darts, kayaking, golf, paddle board and martial arts.
We hope that all students will participate in sports, said Sun. For example, we offer the darts course... (because) some students have physical disabilities and cannot participate in intense sports. Playing darts doesn't require too much energy, and some students can play in their wheelchairs.
Guo Jun contributed to the story.