You don’t have to be a testosterone-loaded, thrill-seeking male to enjoy scuba diving.
Today, scuba diving is attracting a diverse crowd from housewives to children, according to Bill O’Dell, manager of Landlocked Divers, a scuba diving instruction and equipment store in Spokane.
From O’Dell’s perspective, the days of scuba diving being labeled as a macho sport are over.
“Scuba divers have to be responsible people,” he said. “Egos do not have a place in the sport.”
Although his greatest percentage of customers still come from 23- to 45-year-old males, O’Dell has seen a change in his customer demographics.
“The industry is moving toward a more family-oriented focus,” he said.
O’Dell has had youngsters as young as 12 and adults into their 70s take a beginning course.
“You just need to know how to swim and be in relatively good shape to scuba dive,” he said.
Jerry Frislie, 52, of Spokane, and his wife took O’Dell’s beginning class two years ago.
They had such a great experience they bought scuba equipment after the class and have gone out at least a half-dozen times, mainly in Mexico.
The feeling underwater while scuba diving was hard for Frislie to explain.
“It is a peculiar feeling,” he said. “It is like you are in somebody else’s world.”
In addition to experiencing the mysteries below, self-confidence and trust are valuable things Frislie gained from learning to scuba dive.
“Scuba diving is a great experience because you learn something you’re not supposed to do and to trust other people,” he said.
Most scuba diving instruction businesses in Spokane offer beginning courses that last from three to five weeks. Class time is equally divided between academic work and the pool. Divers learn in the classroom and the pool before attempting to dive in the real world.
After four to five sessions in the pool, divers do at least five open-water dives during a weekend to earn their diver’s certification, which allows them to dive anywhere provided the conditions are safe and they do not go too deep underwater.
Spokane’s scuba-instruction businesses take divers to the area’s rivers and lakes for open-water dives as long as weather conditions are favorable.
Plantes Ferry on the Spokane River, Lake Pend Oreille and Lake Coeur d’Alene are all popular scuba diving destinations. Large fish, cascading walls, and shipwrecks are some of the features of Priest and Bead lakes for scuba divers.
Scuba diving does not stop in the winter. Spokane businesses take their students over to the Puget Sound for their open dives.
As far as the cost for the classes, you can get everything, including certification, for $155 to $175.
The real cost comes after certification. Renting equipment for a weekend can be expensive ($45 to $70). Buying equipment can cost from $1,600 to $2,100 for an average setup.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SCUBA AT A GLANCE Businesses in Spokane that offer scuba instruction: Atlantis Aquatics, Fluid Flight Company, Inland Aqua Sports, Landlocked Divers, Scuba Center of Spokane Cost for beginning scuba class (includes certification): $155-$175 Popular scuba areas in the region: Spokane River, Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Priest Lake, Bead Lake. Ages: 12 and up Skills required: Good physical shape and know how to swim.
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