The question of the day.  And we can make it a bit broader by asking if Cave and Cavern Diving in general is ‘technically’ (pardon the pun) an extreme sport.

An extreme sport is defined as a sport that meets the following criteria:

1.  have a high level of inherent danger

2.  are counter cultural

3.  involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion

4.  highly specialized gear

5.  attract a younger demographic (what ever that means under 60, under under 30)

6.  higher number of inherently uncontrollable variables

7.  Is not a competitive sport though can stem from a competitive sport

8.  the sport inherently contains environmental obstacles and challenges

9.  enthusiasts are viewed to participate in a very dangerous or difficult sport

I think i could debate each of these points for many hours and could even go as far as debating the term ‘Sport”  for cavern and cave diving.  I will let each reader decide based on this criteria.

The history of cave diving can be brought to the idea of search and rescue.  Divers were trained to cave dive not as a sport as a way to rescue people who ended up in the cave systems either out of falling through a hole in a cenote on land, or those who thought that entering a hole in the earth without technical training would be a fun thing to do and found that they did not return.  IN this area, it became a way for divers to explore kilometers of systems that could not be accesses any other way but through the process of technical diving in overhead environments.  It was not viewed as a sport, in either instance, cave diving was a technical training that enable people to rescue or to uncover the mysterious of these inaccessable caves through normal means.

Since the process of cave diving and the popularization of overhead environment diving in ships and wrecks, and with the fascination of what lies beyond in the mayan systems of cenotes, cave instructors and cavern guides have been able to regularize cave and cavern diving for both technical and recreational divers.  The rigorous training is still there for cave divers, the education given to recreational divers if they wish to look at cavern (not cave) diving as an option while visiting the Riviera Maya.  and the instruction and education is done well, with caution and precaution.

Before you can cavern dive you need to satisfy the following criteria:

1.  have at least 20 dives in your log book

2.  complete a check out dive for your cavern guide or dive center instructor so they can determine if your buoyancy and basic scuba skills are appropriate for the overhead environment

3.  when you have been ‘okayed’ by your cavern guide, there is a very different and more technical briefing provided that introduces some basic technical diving skills, new hand signals, the rule of thirds, the role of the permanent line in the cenote and the need for small groups, no more than 4 divers per guide.

Cave diving has a seperate certification level all together and has levels of cave diving that you can work towards.  Cave diving is not for the recreational diver, it is the next step for those who feel they are ready to change their diving, their dive environments and where they can dive.  That is another post all to gether.

I have not answered the question is cave and cavern diving an extreme sport, as I would like you to make that conclusion.  Most importantly, both require a great level of skill and cave diving requires technical certification that can take up to 8 days to achieve.