Mount Allison grad students create Scuba Society

Learning to keep calm ‘under pressure’

A scuba certification is an asset in many careers: Campbell and DiLonardo both work in Dr. Josh Kurek’s environmental change and aquatic biomonitoring lab. Frisa Li/Submitted

Julia Campbell and Alex DiLonardo, both masters students at Mount Allison, kept running into students looking to scuba dive. Without a dedicated diving group in the Sackville area, students interested in pursuing diving for academic or recreational purposes were out of luck.

In September, Campbell, DiLonardo and their group of interested divers became a society. “The society was formed to create a network for people interested in becoming divers and those already certified that want to practice skills or find a dive buddy,” said DiLonardo. “Scuba is all about meeting new people, trying new things and sharing new experiences in a new environment.”

Campbell and DiLonardo put on their second Scuba Society event on Jan. 19 in partnership with Sharkbait Scuba, a local diving school. Four students took part in the Discover Scuba workshop, with other participants impeded by the winter storm.

Although the society had a slow start last semester, Campbell and DiLonardo are hoping to host more events, especially for certified divers, when the weather conditions are more favourable. The club is also offering the opportunity for novice divers to get certified by instructor Mark Payne.

“Because the academic season is constrained to the colder months of the year, we have a limited window of warmer conditions to dive in,” said DiLonardo. They are also looking to expand their events to open water environments like the ocean and nearby lakes.

After completing their beginner scuba diving certifications, divers can pursue open water certifications including ice diving, cave diving, wreck diving, rescue diving and shark diving.

Frisa Li/Submitted

“Diving offers an exciting way to explore the underwater world,” said DiLonardo. Diving is also a highly sought skill in biology, engineering, archaeology, photography and many trade and technical jobs. DiLonardo added that diving also offers many practical skills such as “planning, communication, problem-solving skills and most importantly keeping calm under pressure – pun intended.”

Anyone, certified or not, is welcome at all Discover Scuba events – DiLonardo describes the society’s events as “try before you buy.” The Scuba Society acknowledges that diving certifications can be expensive on a student budget, so the Discover Scuba events are designed specifically so that participants can decide whether they want to pursue scuba at a higher level.

“Breathing underwater is definitely a memorable experience,” said DiLonardo. “We also love when students come with friends and get to experience diving together. Also underwater photoshoots are sure to get a lot of likes!”

The Scuba Society is still accepting new members. Anyone interested in learning more about scuba can email Campbell and DiLonardo at [email protected]. Potential participants are encouraged to join the MtA Scuba Society Facebook group for new events and updates.

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