Sunday , October 15, 2017 - 12:00 AM
When you think of scuba diving, Utah isn't the first place that comes to mind.
However, this summer I decided to take scuba lessons and get my open water dive certification —. something you could do too.
The first time you take a breath under water is a life-changing experience. I have always been a swimmer, but I have always needed to stay at the surface. But being able to stay under the water for extended amounts of time is like discovering a new world.
Here’s how my journey to scuba diving played out.
When I went to sign up for the class, the instructor gave me a big book to read and a pile of homework due on the first day of class. I, being a procrastinating high school student, didn't do it until the night before and it was a shock.
I thought it would be really easy, but there is actually a lot of math involved in scuba diving. You need to calculate how long you can stay under the water and how deep you can go. You need to be able to navigate with a compass underwater as well.
After the first day in class, we got more homework (which I procrastinated doing again) that was due the second day of class. The second lesson was a lot harder. Among other things, this time we had to take off our masks at the bottom of 12 feet of water, then put them back on and clear the mask to get all the water out of it.
The third class was even scarier. The instructor turned off my air supply and I had to use my buddy's alternate air supply and swim to the surface. This day was also the swim check. To pass the class, I needed to swim six laps — 200 yards — across the pool and back without stopping, as well as tread water for 10 minutes.
The fourth day we towed divers across the pool to simulate a diver who is too tired to continue swimming. At the end of this day, we took the final exam that covered the entire book.
After the four-confined water dives, we needed to do our four open water dives. My two sisters, who were also in the class, and I drove to the Homestead Crater in Midway for our open water dives.
The first two dives we did on the same day. On these dives we went down 22 feet to a platform that we stood on and practiced more skills.
A few days later, we drove to Midway again for our final two dives. During these dives, we dove almost to the bottom of the crater. When you are that deep, you can barely see anything without using a flashlight.
After those dives, I filled out all of my dive logs and a few days later, I got my open water certification card.
Scuba is an expensive activity. The class costs around $400; this includes the workbook. You also need to rent or buy equipment for all of your dives outside of the dive center. You may also need to pay an entrance fee to the location where you plan to dive.
The gear costs vary based on the quality you want. The gear ranges from masks to dive computers. There are some pieces of equipment that are a necessity such as an air tank, a regulator, mask, fins, a BCD (buoyancy control device) and sometimes, weight belts. These can be rented which could save you money, however, if you plan on doing scuba diving long-term it would probably be best to invest in your own equipment.
Dive the world over
I was telling my story about learning to dive to one of my teachers and he made a joke about how there isn't anywhere to go scuba diving in Utah besides a bathtub.
Well, after that, I did some research and found that there are actually a lot of places to go scuba diving around the state. First, there is the Homestead Crater which is located at The Homestead Resort. The crater is a geothermal spring which is inside a 55-foot-tall limestone rock formation. Inside the crater the water is 96 degrees year-round.
There is also a lake for diving outside of Wendover, Nevada, named Blue Lake which is fed by a geothermal spring, so the temperature is about 60 degrees year-round.
At Bonneville Seabase, near Grantsville, you can scuba dive with many types of tropical fish. Seabase has four different places to dive that include platforms, a sunken boat and much more.
You can also go diving in a lot of Utah's natural lakes, but you will need an exposure suit to prevent hypothermia. You will also need to be cautious of motor boats and jet skis.
If all of the Utah attractions aren’t exciting enough, many dive shops take folks on trips around the globe. You can go diving anywhere from the Philippines, to the Caribbean, or even to California to catch lobster.
I love scuba diving because it opens a whole new world. I would like to go out of the country on a scuba diving vacation. There are thousands of places that you can go ranging from a coral reef to shipwrecks.
If you want to learn to scuba dive, there are many dive shops across the state — even two in Ogden — that offer certification.
So whether you want to find a way to stay active, get a better hobby, or explore the world, scuba diving may be the thing for you.
David Rackham is a junior at Northridge High School. Email him at [email protected]
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