HUMBOLDT STATE HAS A flourishing dive program, attracting students from every major. Many go on to advanced training, becoming certified scientific divers, landing internships with government agencies and aquariums – one alum even leads dives for Blackbeard Cruises in the Bahamas. Before anyone gets a chance to dive in the rough ocean waters of the North Coast, however, they spend hours training in HSU's new pool in the Kinesiology & Athletics building.
STUDENTS TAKE TESTS UNDERWATER using special waterproof paper and regular pencils. They could take the tests in a regular classroom, but students thought it would be more fun this way.
THE DIVE CLUB ON campus once hosted a party underwater – complete with a game of Twister.
ONE COMMON EXERCISE: ALL students swim in a circle, while in the center, two students practice skills like removing their mask and regulator, sharing air with a buddy and adjusting weight belts (it can take a weight belt of 30 pounds to offset the buoyancy of a 7mm wetsuit).
THE NEW "WET CLASSROOM," with its cement floor, plastic chairs and location next to the pool, is designed for dripping students. They're just not allowed near the computer.
STUDENTS NEED THEIR WETSUITS, even in the heated pool. Turns out that 82-degree water can still get cold if you're immersed in it for a two-hour-long class.
AMONG THE SKILLS THAT advanced students must master: diving blind. To simulate the dark, murky conditions that limit visibility, students dive in the pool with paper towels stuffed in their masks.
THE UNDERWATER RECALL SYSTEM is designed to summon divers in open water back to the boat. You can also plug an iPod into the device and listen to music underwater, which came in handy in the pool at the end-of-semester Dive Club party.
UNTIL THEY BUY THEIR own gear, students check out equipment much like taking a book out of the library.