Thursday, April 12, 2007

Getting Open Water SCUBA certified

Last weekend I flew from Denver International Airport to Salt Lake City so I could become open water certified in scuba.

One of my New Years resolutions - that carried over from 2006 - was to get certified in scuba.

I had talked to my friend Bryce about doing scuba and felt that a reachable goal, which would be fun at the same time, would be to take an open water scuba course in Boulder and then get certified in open water diving. That way if any trips came up where I could do scuba, then I would be prepared.

My first preperation was a weekend scuba course I took from Joe's Dive Shop in February. The course was Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Altogether, it was about twelve hours of instruction, dive practice, four multiple choice quizzes and a final multiple choice exam. Scuba instruction took place in a multi-level pool that had a max depth of fifteen feet. We practiced initially in the shallow end and then took our techniques to the deep end where depth would be more of an issue. The final exam I passed with a correct score of 49 out of 50 questions.

Since the course went so well I wanted to get open water certified as soon as possible and find a location that was convenient and not too far away. One option was to get open water certified in Utah in a heated natural spring pool located at the Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah.

I have family in Ogden, Utah and felt it would be most convenient to take my scuba certification in Utah. I also wanted a mini vacation after that weekend for one day of skiing, which would allow me to ski at one of the world famous ski resorts near Salt Lake City, and also equalize my body before getting on a plane.

The flight out was uneventful and I got to rent a car in Salt Lake. Unfortunately, the first car Hertz gave me died from a weak battery so they gave me an upgrade, which was appreciated.

The two weekend morning days of diving at the resort was a real treat. The pool had a surface temperature of 93 degrees so there was no need for a wetsuit. The biggest trouble I had with the open water dives was when I had to remove my mask 20 feet under water and breath, then put it back on. After putting the mask back on I had to blow out the excess water from the mask and that caused my body to think I wasn't getting any air. I felt as though my air supply had been cut off and that gave me a big panic attack. Luckily, I was able to breath again, but I definitely need to practice that technique again to be comfortable with it.

Other times we practiced navigation at the surface using a compass, buoyancy techniques, and swimming down to a depth of 60 feet.

The last day of the trip I went to ski at Alta for a half day. The snow on parts of the mountain was not that good but by 2:30 PM I was over by the WildCat lift and then the snow had softened up so that I could really enjoy some mogul mashing.

Altogether, a good weekend.

Some photos from inside the Homestead Crater.

The dock inside the Homestead pool.

The tunnel where you get your gear that also leads to the pool.