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Northern Ontario divers take on the world’s deepest pool

'The feeling of excitement as I crept up to the ledge and peered towards the bottom was indescribable'

Editor's note:

The cylindrical pool reaches a depth of 130 ft, about the height of a 13-storey building. Y-40 is the deepest indoor swimming pool in the world; holding 4,300 cubic metres of water. The Y-40 name is meant to represent “40” being the 40 metre depth and the “Y” represents the silhouette of an inverted free diver.

The Italian structure in Montegrotto Terme became the deepest pool in the world in 2014.

Alisha made the dive with her husband Joey last week.

By Alisha Perron

Taking on the world’s deepest pool was an experience unlike any other. We arrived at the thermally heated pool in the morning, pumped and ready to hit the water. On our way to the changing rooms, we walked through a demi glass tunnel where we could watch free divers swimming and practicing their descents.

After setting up our scuba gear and getting a briefing from some of the amazing crew at the pool we hopped into the water.

I knew that the pool water was going to be warm thanks to some geothermal heating from the Padua region but boy oh boy was I surprised when I put my feet beneath the glassy surface of the water. The 34-degree celsius heat made me feel like I would be diving in chicken noodle soup!

Once we’d donned our gear we swam down from the training platform to training platforms each staggered at different depths. The last training platform before the pool funnels into a deep dark cylindrical tank was at about nine meters. The feeling of excitement as I crept up to the ledge and peered towards the bottom was indescribable.

Not even hesitating, Joey and I plunged over the edge and carefully descended into the Y-40’s abyss. I felt like I was in a never ending elevator as I watched the numbers on the wall’s meter marker get bigger. 15 metres, 20 metres, 25 metres. I am so used to diving in aquarium, lakes, and oceans filled with ambient background noise that I couldn’t believe how peaceful it diving could be.The silence of the cylinder shaped tank and the constant pop of my ears as I equalized every few meters was eerie.

Once Joey and I hit the 31 metre mark I was a little on edge. It is around this depth that sometimes I get nitrogen narcosis. Nitrogen narcosis or getting “narced” as divers like to call it, is a condition that occurs when they are at depth. While the condition is related to breathing in the compressed tank under pressure the signs and symptoms present themselves through slow reflexes and impaired judgment. In a nutshell, the diver will appear drunk. Some divers can feel nitrogen narcosis in as little as 27 meters while others may not feel it until 45 meters.

I was pretty thankful that I didn’t feel any nitrogen narcosis on this dive (likely because I was very well hydrated and had a good night's sleep).

Joey and I spent about eight minutes on the bottom of the world’s deepest pool. Those minutes went by in the blink of an eye. Once our time was up we began the slow and controlled ascent to shallower waters. On our way to the surface, I watched as a free diver came whizzing by me on his way to the bottom. It was utterly incredible to watch someone make it down so deep on a single breath.

Between five and seven meters we did our safety stop to allow our bodies to release some of the gasses under pressure in our blood stream. During our stop we enjoyed the cave system build into one area of the pool. I weaved in and out of artificial caves, some so small I almost had to wiggle my way through (thank goodness I’m not claustrophobic!)  

In total, we spent about an hour underwater, but that hour was enough to cross a once in a lifetime dive off my scuba diving bucket list!

As if the dive wasn’t enough, as we were finishing up our visit at the Y-40 pool Joey and I had the honor of meeting the pools architect and owner Emanuele Boaretto. It was icing on top of our scuba cake!

See a 4:27 video of Y40.


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