Deep under the ocean surface near Catalina Island, off the southern coast of California, the water comes to life as schools of vibrant fish dart by and sea lions lazily swim in circular patterns around the divers admiring them. According to junior Chris McKenzie, president of the UVU SCUBA diving club, this is the ultimate lure for people thinking about learning to dive.
The SCUBA Divers Association, started in January 2011, offers regular local dives, opportunities for service with local communities, ongoing training and hopes to have at least one big trip each school year to a place like Catalina Island.
Local diving spots the club has visited this year include Deer Creek Reservoir, Strawberry Reservoir, Spanish Oaks Reservoir and Blue Lake. So far the fledgling club only has a few members, but McKenzie is confident that numbers will increase with the influx of new students this fall. McKenzie is looking for enthusiastic new members that are willing to actively participate in outings and club promotions.
Safely enjoying unique underwater adventures may be a central goal of the club, but it is not the only thing the president has in mind. Earlier this spring, club members participated in a cleanup of Salem Pond, one of the few natural lakes in Utah that has been surrounded by residential development. Club members combed the bottom of the pond for trash, and found more than they bargained for. Among the items removed from the pond were three razor scooters, two bicycles and a bowling ball. McKenzie hopes to be involved with similar community service projects in the future.
Not just anyone can SCUBA dive, though. To dive recreationally, a license is required. A beginning diver starts with an open water certification, which allows divers to dive up to 60 feet with a fellow diver of the same certification. SCUBA Diving I, or REC 1350, is a two-credit course that offers open water certification as an option to students.
Those who are already certified and interested in joining the club need not worry; potential members of the SCUBA diving club are not required to enroll in any classes. More advanced certifications, such as instruction and technical certifications, are available for those interested, and can be worked toward in SCUBA Diving II, REC 1351.
“Every year the SCUBA I & II classes are full,” says McKenzie, “but I don’t know what all these people are doing with their certifications.”
McKenzie hopes that his club will provide an opportunity for student and community divers to join together, help their communities and most importantly, have some fun.