What is the Aqualung?

It all started with the imagination of a French man synonymous with deep sea diving back in the 1930’s.

Jacques Yves Cousteau was born in 1910 in France and he developed a love of diving as a young boy.

He was amazed by a children’s story he’d heard of a hero ducking under the water with only a water reed to breathe whilst he was escaping from the villains.

After initially trying to replay the same scene at a swimming pool with a hose pipe, he quickly realised that he needed something more to help him breathe underwater.

In 1943, along with the help of another French man, inventor Emile Gagnan, they designed the first underwater apparatus known as the Aqualung.

Their first attempt nearly ended in Cousteau drowning, so with a few amendments they became successful in producing the first underwater equipment for long periods of time.

The vital change they made to the Aqualung was that the inlet valve from the air supply must be next to the outlet valve from the mouth. This was the only way a diver could receive a constant supply of air at the correct pressure to aid breathing underwater.

Cousteau, Gagnan and one other friend Phillipe Tailliez had to keep the aqualung a secret from the Germans during the war as it would have assisted them.

Therefore, they conducted their dives in an old wreck sunk near to Marseilles.

After the war they made the Aqualung known to all who wanted to learn about diving. One of the advantages of the Aqualung is the fact that it allows the diver to swim upside down.

This is most important when divers are exploring ship wrecks, as they do not want to stand on the wreck in case they damage or disturb it.

The modern name for the Aqualung is now known as SCUBA, which means Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.