For the second time this summer, the Escalon community pool was filled with novice scuba divers on Saturday, as the local Aquatic Discount Scuba hosted an introduction to scuba.
The first session was in June, with a second class offered on July 29 and instructor Michael Dodge said he truly enjoys putting on the introductory course and sharing his love of scuba diving with the community.
Wife Jennifer said the Saturday class numbered about 15 students, with varying levels of expertise. Some were trying it for the first time; others were getting in some practice to test for certification. The Escalon-based business also does classes in Ripon and Manteca in addition to Escalon during the summer.
“It was fun,” said 10-year-old Aleksia Hansen. “The hardest part was taking my mask off and putting it back on.”
The local youngster is working toward certification, with plans to travel to Hawaii with her grandparents for the certification.
The class, designed for those ages 10 and up, gave Aleksia the chance to do some underwater exploration, even if it was just at the local pool.
“It kind of felt like I was a mythical sea creature, just swimming around,” she said, smiling.
Mom Karrie Hansen said she had done a class in the past, but now the focus is on Aleksia and getting her involved with the sport.
Also coming in with an eye toward certification was Glenda Eastham, who will be traveling with her fiancé to get her open water certification soon.
“Mike is great,” Eastham said. “He’s awesome in regards to patience, instruction, information … he’s a keeper.”
Eastham said her only regret with scuba diving is that she waited so long to get involved.
“I wish I’d done it before I was 65 years old,” she said. “Other than that, I love it.”
The course fee is small, but all the money – except what is required to file paperwork – goes back to the organization that sponsors the class. In Escalon’s case, the money was returned to the Recreation Department.
“We usually get a good turnout in Escalon,” Jennifer said.
She is now retired, though Michael maintains a full-time job while working at the local shop. They also have high school students that work in the local business.
“What we teach here are the ‘do’s and don’ts’ and the basic skills,” she added of the Saturday class.
Escalon teen Vincent Lopez, 13, said he was taking the three-hour class for the second time.
“You get experience underwater, it’s not that hard once you get used to it,” Lopez said.
For Dodge himself, the business is celebrating 20 years now and he continues to enjoy sharing his passion with others.
“I do it for the kids, mostly,” he said of hosting the classes, hoping to spark an interest in scuba diving in youngsters. “I love to see the kids excited about it.”