Scuba course adds variety to UIndy electives

Professor Mark Scott educates the scuba students on the importance of safety during open water dives. Photo by Jake Shaw
Professor Mark Scott educates the scuba students on the importance of safety during open water dives. Photo by Jake Shaw

Junior biology/pre-PT major Matt Perino and his classmates take a break from the daily grind of lectures and assignments to jump into the world of scuba on Thursday evenings.

Scuba is among the University of Indianapolis’ many special topics courses and presents an opportunity for students to become acquainted with the underwater hobby. The course is instructed by adjunct professor Mark Scott III with the support of the Kinesiology Department and Divers’ Supply Indy. Scott, a certified scuba diver, joined the campus community after teaching scuba diving at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI) for five years.

“I was in the Marine Corp and started scuba diving after Desert Shield and Storm,” Scott said. “When I came back, I took the class at IUPUI and liked it so much that I just kept taking additional classes and earning additional certifications. I love working with students.”

The course is divided into three sections: classroom, pool, and then an open water component in order to gain certification. Classroom and pool sessions are offered on alternate Thursdays to vary teaching techniques and help students better grasp the material from 6 to 7:50 p.m. in the Ruth Lilly Fitness Center.

Perino appreciated the technical aspects of the class and its thoroughness in addressing both the technical and recreational aspects of scuba diving.

“The first day, it was more [about] equipment; we learned how to set it up, how to get in the water with the equipment on and how to actually swim around properly with it on,” Perino said. “It can be [difficult]. I feel that once I and everyone gets more comfortable it will be a lot easier, because we won’t think about it as much. As my professor jokingly says, ‘it’s a lazy person’s sport.’”

Perino also said that students rarely pursue athletic subjects should not be deterred from taking the course but instead focus on the uniqueness of the experience.

“It is just something you wouldn’t normally expect to have on your schedule,” he said. “My family is always asking me questions. When I told them I was taking a scuba class this semester, they were so intrigued.”

The course adheres to UIndy standards plus additional requirements from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Once students complete the course and field test, they are certified to scuba dive anywhere they travel. This, according to Scott, is one of the principal benefits of pursuing scuba diving as a hobby. Additionally, scuba diving is a social activity in which Scott hopes more students will soon develop an interest.

“I’m more than happy to grow it into anything that the students want to do with it,” Scott said. “The fun thing about scuba is that it’s a social activity. The more people that you have doing it, the more people that you know that do it, the more opportunities you have to try and do things in other places…. What we seek to do through the class here is to give you the academic and the pool requirements necessary so that then you can go anywhere in the world and get certified.”

The course is one of many at UIndy geared toward allowing students to adopt a skill they may not otherwise consider. According to Scott, this opportunity to broaden horizons and overcome fears is what makes the scuba diving lessons a worthwhile consideration for students.

“I think they [students] should take it [this course] to have an expanded opportunity to explore the other half of the world,” he said. “The thing that I think has [a] life application is when you can overcome those fears and where you can gain that confidence. You truly [through scuba] realize how easy it is to succeed with a little bit of encouragement and a little bit of support.”