Weather cuts scuba scheduling

Keith Hartman, Copy Editor

Pitt-Johnstown’s scuba class is now to be offered only in the fall semester.

The change, aquatic coordinator James Hedrick said, is due to the scheduling of the “open-water dive.”

The open dive is an exercise where students are to be tested in a natural setting rather than the Zamias Aquatic Center.

For the open-water dive, students go to a local quarry, but the water’s temperature varies greatly with the time of year.

“For the fall semester, we go out for our open dive in October and the water can be around 60 degrees,” said Hedrick.

The course also certifies students through the National Association of Underwater Instructors.

“The certification you get at the end of the course is a lifetime certification, but students should take refresher courses if they have a few years before dives,” said Hedrick.

Pitt-Johnstown senior Sean Rankin took the course fall semester 2010 and agrees with the October dive.

“Fall semester is the best time to take it. You wouldn’t think it because it ends in December but the final dive is done earlier in the semester,” said Rankin.

The class advertises additional fees, however. Base cost for the class is $200, which covers classroom, pool and open-water training. It also covers certification, registration and textbook costs.

Students need to provide their own mask, fins and snorkels. They also need their own boots. If the student does not have their own Hedrick can assist the student in finding them.

“At the dive shop that we typically use, the gear costs around $190, but it is quality gear that will last you 10 or 15 years,” said Hedrick.

Students also have to cover the rental fee of $25 for the wetsuit for each dive.

“When I took the class, you needed the $200 the first day and that just covers the class and books. After that, you need all the gear. By the end of it I spent around $500 I think,” Rankin said.

“Just make sure when you get your suit you go a little bigger. Trying to squeeze into a tiny wetsuit is terrible.”