Take the plunge
SPYMCA hosts grand reopening Saturday, free scuba lessons
Feeling landlocked? Try diving deep.
JGP Dive Adventures of Creston is hosting a free, single-session scuba lesson 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Southern Prairie YMCA for anyone interested in learning to scuba dive recreationally or professionally.
Scuba diving is a form of swimming under water for an extended period of time with the assistance of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. With a cylinder of compressed air, divers are able to dive deep below the surface to explore aquatic life, caves, shipwrecks and reef systems.
Saturday’s free scuba lesson is geared toward introducing prospective scuba students to the sport of scuba diving, the various equipment involved and what to expect when training for an open-water certification.
“People either love it, or they don’t,” said Grant Plowman, owner of JGP Dive Adventures. “They will know by the end of the lesson.”
According to Plowman, you don’t have to be a good swimmer to learn scuba.
“Scuba diving is more relaxed and more patient than surface swimming,” said Plowman. “It’s a lot less involved.”
Who can scuba
JGP Diving Adventures offers flexible instruction for groups of two to four students, ages 10 and over and private scuba instruction.
“Lessons are scheduled to meet the needs of the students,” said Plowman.
Plowman described the schedule of his students; from busy working adults to children and teens with other extracurricular engagements.
“I have kids, so I understand how busy it can get,” said Plowman. “That’s why the lessons are tailored to meet the scheduling needs of the students and families. Sometimes we may need to skip a week if they have something going on.”
What to bring
Students only need to bring a swimsuit, towel, T-shirt, and tube socks to wear in the water. All other equipment will be provided by JGP Dive Adventures.
“The classes don’t require any equipment purchase,” said Plowman. “I want students to learn about the equipment first, so that when they do choose to purchase equipment, they know what they are purchasing.”
What to expect
For safety, all participants are required to pass a swim test of 225 yards of the students preferred stroke.
“It doesn’t have to be a perfect stroke,” said Plowman. “They just have to complete the distance. It doesn’t matter if its a back stroke, free style, side stroke.”
Upon successful completion of the swim test, students will put on the gear provided by Plowman and tour the pool.
“That gives them the opportunity to test it out before they buy in to it,” said Plowman.
Sign up for scuba
Those who choose to sign up for scuba after Saturday’s trial lesson can expect a combination of studying from a book, pool time, a final test and opportunity to earn an open-waters divers certification.
“The swimming pool work teaches a person to think under water as they do on dry land,” said Plowman. “My goal is for the student to learn safely, so that when they go out alone or book a trip with us that they are diving safely.”
Lessons consist of book work and 4 to 5, three and a half hour pool sessions.
“That all depends on how quickly the student learns,” said Plowman.” If they pick up quickly, we can move forward. If they need more time, we can do that, too.”
Plowman said the small class sizes allow a more tailored approach to teaching and one-on-one time with students and instructor.
Fees include a deposit of $100 for the training kit, which includes the required book. An additional $175 is due at the end of the fourth week when pool training is complete.
A final, open water training is required to obtain certification. Students have the opportunity to travel to Mermet Springs in southern Illinois where instructors observe students in open water.
The open-water certification trip is $350, which inculdes two-nights lodging, double occupancy, equipment rental, entry fee into the quarry, instruction and certification fee.
“Once finished, students are handed a cert card, which is good for life, anywhere in the world,” said Plowman.
Plowman is a certified instructor under the National Association of Underwater Instructors and has been diving since 2005. He has dove coral reefs in the Caribbean, Mexico, and WWII shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina, as well as several fresh water locations throughout the Midwest.
JGP Dive Adventures was started in 2009 as a travel planning agency. After wanting to further the business, Plowman went back in training and received his instructor certification. JGP Dive Adventures offers full service dive training and travel planning.
Plowman will be arranging a group trip for certified divers to Morehead City, a popular dive spot in North Carolina in August. Morehead City, known as Graveyard of the Atlantic, is famous for a number of WWII whipwrecks, most notably the German submarine U-352.
New in 2013, JGP Dive Adventures is offering couple’s discounts. Plowman also stated there is no charge for refreshers, no matter who you have received scuba certification from.
“Our goal is to make sure everyone is safe when diving,” said Plowman. “It’s the least I can do.”