A DIVING lake is being built near Southampton, allowing novice divers to gain experience before they take the plunge.

The man-made lake at Andark Diving and Watersports is the first of its kind in the country and is designed to allow diving students to achieve qualifications in conditions safer than those out in the open water.

Costing nearly £500,000, it will be about the same size as an Olympic swimming pool, seven metres deep, with ledges at various depths.

Building work has already begun on land behind Andark’s current buildings in Bridge Road, Lower Swanwick, and the facility could be open at the end of May or early June.

The firm expects the lake to bring in extra revenue as well as be healthy for the environment.

Director Andy Goddard said: “Andark is only a small company and this represents a major investment for us. However, for us to move forward and prosper we must make this investment.

“The lake at Andark will mean a 40 per cent reduction to our carbon footprint since we will cut out many of the travels to a lake in Somerset that we now do. It will help secure the diving school jobs and create at least one extra full-time position and create several part-time jobs.

“Andark will be the main user of the facility but it will be open to other diving schools and clubs including individual divers.

“The primary use will be to allow students doing basic diving courses to qualify in a safe, controlled environment.”