News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 13, 2013

Team of Master Divers train Rose-Hulman students in open water diving

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A cold wind blew across the rippling lake in northern Vigo County late Sunday morning.

After several minutes, first two, then four, then six heads broke the surface of the shimmering water.

Wearing diving masks, black wet suits and scuba gear, they were joined by others and, soon, a whole team of divers were making their way to the shore.

“They’re done now,” said the lead diver, Jim Frederick, as he walked onto dry land. “We’ve got 11 new divers we’re adding to the community.”

Frederick’s business, Fun Time SCUBA, located in Brazil, offers everything for SCUBA diving, including advanced training courses, an indoor pool, diving trips and gear. This weekend, Frederick and his team of Master Divers trained 22 Rose-Hulman students in open water diving, providing each with their first international diving certifications.

The training took place in a Vigo County lake where it seemed about 20 degrees colder than anywhere else in the area due to a non-stop, cold, wind. The water was also very cold, about 52 degrees, Frederick said. His students said it was even colder deeper in the lake.

“It was cold. That was the only downside. Other than that, it was super, super fun,” said Derek Heeger, a member of the Rose SCUBA Club, who was attempting to get some feeling back in his feet by a fire after completing his roughly 35 minute dive. “In some places, the temperature was in the low 40s.”

Later in the morning, the second group of Rose students showed up at the lake for their final dives on their way to their open water certifications, which will allow them to dive anywhere in the world, Frederick said.

“It was a fantastic time,” said Dan Untener, Rose SCUBA Club president, who also got his certification Sunday. “I can’t believe we get to do this.”

Untener is a swimmer for the Rose swim team and loves the water, he said. But he never imagined he’d SCUBA dive.

“Jim and his team do a great job,” Untener said after completing his dive. “It’s a blast. It’s just unreal.”

The student divers are trained to safely go deep underwater and safely return to the surface. Among other things, they are also trained to read a compass underwater, find their way to underwater buoys and platforms and assist their partners in an emergency.

One of the most difficult parts of the training involves removing your mask underwater and then placing back on, Frederick said. That was especially difficult this weekend because of the extremely cold water.

“It’s very chilly and to be able to take that mask off and put it back on, and think through that, is an accomplishment,” Frederick said. “That’s usually one of the toughest skills for them.”

Fun Time SCUBA on East National Ave. in Brazil, typically certifies about 120 new divers per year, Frederick said. The sport has a reputation for being dangerous and expensive, he said, but it does not have to be either. With proper training, diving is very safe and it is less expensive than most people imagine, he said.

“I’ve done a lot of [hobbies],” Frederick said still standing in his wet suit. “This is the one thing I can’t get enough of. It’s just a new adventure every time we go.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com