(Lichelle Jenkins/ The Signpost)
Students work in the pool as part of the scuba diving and exploration class offered by Weber State University. (Lichelle Jenkins/ The Signpost)

Right before the beginning of every semester, it seems many sought-after elective courses like billiards or rock climbing fill up as fast as they open. But what many students don’t know is that Weber State University offers another very unique and interesting course in scuba diving and exploration.

The course is run by Douglas Gilbert, owner of Adventure West Scuba. Douglas has been teaching courses and licensing people for scuba diving since 2002, but his interest in diving dates back to his childhood.

“My first experience was at Flaming Gorge with my snorkel mask,” Gilbert said. “Some lady had dropped her glasses off the boat, and I offered — as a 7-year-old child — to retrieve them for her in 20 feet of water. It’s what tweaked my interest in deep diving.”

Gilbert isn’t alone in the class, however, as he’s joined by fellow instructor Tina Rigden. Rigden has been an instructor since 1998 and aids Doug with training all the students.

“I was always in the pool since I was little,” Rigden said “I was always attracted to the underwater picture, the colors, the brilliance and I always wanted to see a puffer fish face to face.”

Classes range from about an hour and a half of in-class safety instructions and basic knowledge and two to three hours in the pool with the equipment learning all the skills that are needed to safely navigate open water up to 60 feet below the surface. Another course taught by Gilbert can train you to go as far as 100 feet under the water anywhere.

Gilbert said that although the class teaches students how to use the equipment properly and how to go diving in the open water, that isn’t the main purpose of the course.

“The class is about how to manage panic,” Gilbert said. “Realistically, the hardest diving you’ll ever do is in the pool here because we’re asking you to jump though hoops which you’ll probably never encounter, but if they did happen, then you would know how to react to that situation.”

The course is offered every semester and runs from 6 to 10 p.m. twice a week. With an additional fee, students can take their class time and put it towards a scuba license by the end.

“I’m going to scuba dive everywhere,” said WSU student Eric Brown. “I’m going diving in Cancun for spring break, and I’ll do a couple dives with my parents in Hawaii when I take them there in a few months.”

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