SMU Students Dive into their Curriculum
SMU students add to the number of Texas scuba certifications through SMU's wellness course
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 17:11
It is a Thursday morning on the SMU campus and Professor Randal Diercoff is making his preparations for his first class period by getting out his snorkel and fins.
Welcome to Professor Diercoff’s course: WELL 2144, Scuba Diving, where students wear masks and swim with the fishes. Well, maybe not the fishes.
Students actually swim in the SMU diving pool behind the SMU Natatorium off Bishop Boulevard. It’s not surprising that Diercoff’s class fills up in a hurry, considering that the class leads to scuba certification for the students.
“I wanted my license and it seemed like a great opportunity,” said Elliott Haifleigh, an SMU sophomore who was finishing up Diercoff’s Fall 2012 class.
Although scuba diving is seen to many as a tropical sport, Texas is currently ranked third for the number of diving certifications it grants to residents, following California and Florida. Texas has dozens of dive sites and dive shops scattered acrossthe state.
Diercoff, who has been certified since 1984, is very passionate about the sport and believes Texas’ unique location plays a part in why so many people get certified here.
“Texas I believe is the third largest certification state because of the size, which makes it have a wide variety of dive sites, as well as close flight time to Cozumel, a very popular destination,” Diercoff said.
For the SMU scuba diving class, an average class will start with the students picking a dive buddy and then jumping into the SMU diving pool.
“The best part is jumping in! The feeling of first hitting the water is exhilarating,” said SMU student Faith Michael, who took the class in Fall 2012.
Students will then make their way down to the bottom for the majority of the hour and twenty minute class to learn new dive skills and practice diving techniques such as diving rescues and sharing air.
“I really liked the buddy system and all the hand signals that we did underwater,” Haifleigh said.
Alex Bretthauer, Haifleigh’s dive buddy in the class, said she had been planning to get certified, which is why she took the SMU scuba diving class in Fall 2012.
“I have always wanted to be scuba certified so I could scuba when I go abroad,” said Bretthauer. “I plan to dive in Africa and I do plan to dive in Texas again.”
Diercoff has his students take online courses offered from NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) on top of their class periods to get them their certification cards, but in order to officially become certified they must dive in an actual body of water. For this purpose, Diercoff takes his students near the end of the semester out to Clear Springs Scuba Park in Terrell for the official dives leading to certification.
“It is close enough, one hour, that it is not too inconvenient for the time necessary and it is well laid out and has excellent facilities,” Diercoff said.
The park includes different dive platforms submerged in the body of water, sunken boats, and a giant imitation shark constructed of metal, large enough for divers to even swim inside of.
Michael said her trip to Clear Springs Park to get certified for the class was a great experience. She especially enjoyed diving around the park’s metal shark.
“The shark was so long I thought it would never end,” said Michael.
Other dive sites in north Texas include Tyler State Park, Lake Ray Roberts, Possum Kingdom, Lake Whitney, Lake Texoma, and Daingerfield State Park. Athens Scuba Park and Clear Springs Scuba Park are the closest parks to the Dallas Fort Worth area specifically made for diving.
Another way Texas natives can receive their scuba certification is through local dive shops. Dive shops located around the Dallas Fort Worth area include International Scuba, Lone Star Scuba, Scuba Toys, Adventure Scuba and others.
Diercoff requires his students to have masks, snorkels, buoyancy controlling devices, tanks, fins and booties. The cost for purchasing all the equipment usually will total out around $300 to $800, but depending on where you dive, there may be additional costs.
SMU scuba student, Gaby Ramirez says so far she has loved her scuba diving experiences, even though it is not a cheap sport.
“Scuba diving is an expensive hobby but it’s easy to learn, full of fun experiences, and worth every penny,” said Ramirez, who took the class in Fall 2012.
For more information regarding diving locations in Texas go to http://www.texasdivesites.com/ .
Courtney Schellin is a SMU Journalism and Sport Management student with a passion for sports reporting.