The Herald Bulletin

January 17, 2014

Beginners dive into scuba basics at YMCA

Gym offers course for swimmers to get certified

By Kelly Dickey
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — With her black flippers fluttering behind and water all around her, Megan Farver inhaled and exhaled at the bottom of the pool.

“You’d be surprised how much your ears pop,” she said. “You’re not that far down.”

Farver and five other beginners got a hint of what it’s like to scuba dive at the Anderson YMCA on Monday night.

The newcomers were introduced to some of the basics of diving during the YMCA’s “I Tried Scuba.” The organization is offering an eight-session class Mondays from 6 to 10 p.m. At the end of the course, participants will be eligible for open water certification.

“I Tried Scuba” was originally scheduled for Jan. 6, but the snow storm and travel restrictions pushed it back a week.

At least six people need to be registered for the course, instructor Les Hiatt said. The number of people and when they register will determine whether the course will start Monday or Jan. 27.

The course costs $175 for YMCA members and $225 for non-members. It’s open to anyone 12 years of age and older.

Hiatt, who is an instructor with Scuba Educators International, said he knew of three people taking the course and if three more don’t register, he will likely hold another “I Tried Scuba” event.

“You can experience whatever you want in the ocean,” he said.

But before the simmers go into the water, they have to dive into the pool of scuba knowledge.

He started Monday’s lesson by passing around two teeth from carchordon megalodons, a shark that’s been extinct for millions of years. The 4- to 5-inch teeth, which Hiatt found in Florida, are just an example of what people can find while scuba diving.

“I’ve seen a lot of Dorys and I’ve seen a lot of Nemos,” Hiatt said, referring to two of the main characters in the aquatic Disney animated film “Finding Nemo.”

Although Indiana may not seem like the ideal place to scuba, Hiatt said there are places in the area to dive, including Phillip’s Quarry in Muncie.

Hiatt, who has done about 1,000 dives, said learning how to scuba offers a glimpse into an entirely new world.

The instructor said he used to dive with his sister-in-law until she got in a car accident that left her with paralysis 12 years ago.

“It was something we got to do together,” Hiatt said. “She got to experience something most people never will.”

After an hour in the classroom, it was time to get in the water.

In the pool, the pupils learned about the equipment, how to do the flutter kick to swim and certain hand signals to communicate with their instructors underwater.

After running through the basics, the students individually went to the bottom of the pool.

Farver, a Goshen native and a Ball State student, said breathing normally with the oxygen tank came naturally. She heard about the class from a friend, who is Hiatt’s goddaughter.

Even though her schedule won’t allow her to take the course, Farver didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to try scuba.

“It was awesome and a great opportunity,” she said. “The thing you’d be surprised about is your ears and how often they pop.”

Anderson resident Brian Pagnotti said he was searching online about becoming certified when he came across a post for the class.

Being in the water was a close feeling to being weightless or like an astronaut in outer space, he said.

Part of scuba’s appeal to Pagnotti is the ability to search the water floor. He said he’s signing up for Hiatt’s class to get certified.

“I’ve been metal detecting since I could walk,” he said. “I feel like this is my last frontier.”

To register or ask questions about the class, call the YMCA at 644-7796 or visit ymcamadco.org.

Like Kelly Dickey on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KellyD_THB, or call 640-4805.

Take a class The YMCA is offering an eight-session class Mondays from 6 to 10 p.m. At the end of the course, participants will be eligible for open water certification. The course costs $175 for YMCA members and $225 for non-members. It's open to anyone 12 years of age and older. To register, call the YMCA at 644-7796.