by Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
This fall at Eastern New Mexico University, exploration is just a dive away as a scuba diving certification course will be available to the public.
The class is taught by Mike Hale, who has been holding scuba certification courses at ENMU for the past 11 years.
“Mike runs a dive shop called ScubaVentures in Liberal, Kan.,” said assistant instructor Greg Senn.
“He drives out here every year and teaches the class.”
The course is open to a maximum of 12 students. The fee is $200, plus an additional $150 open water fee and $60 for the textbook. The course is taught rather rapidly. From Sept. 27-29 attendees will complete five class modules. On Oct. 12-13 the class will take a trip to Santa Rosa to dive in the Blue Hole or Perch Lake, where a certification will be earned once the student completes a dive in open water.
“Open water means not in a pool,” explained Senn.
The classroom modules are meant to teach students about the physiology of diving, and what happens to your body once you are underwater.
“We teach you want you need to know about diving to prevent things from happening, such as the bends,” said Senn, who explained that the bends happen when nitrogen is absorbed in your bloodstream from being under water too long or going in too deep.
“The nitrogen forms bubbles in your joints, which are very painful,” said Senn.
Micah Thompson took the course with her two children, Brock, 14, and Riley, 12.
“My husband was already certified, and we decided it would be fun it we all tried it,” said Micah Thompson. “We really enjoyed being able to see another side of God’s beautiful earth.”
The Thompsons have used their new skills as a family since last attaining their certifications last year.
“We went scuba diving in the Cayman Islands. It was wonderful,” said Micah Thompson.
“I like that this is a family experience we all get to share. We will be talking about this forever,” said Brock Thompson.
Senn knows of an amazing scuba spot that isn’t too far.
“In Balmorhea, Texas, there is a 7,000 gallon artesian spring. There are millions of little fish down there, even some turtles. It’s beautiful,” said Senn.