Scuba has started the school year off right with several dive trips already under their belt.
Farragut’s Scuba program, led by instructor Tonya Singleton, is one of Farragut’s signature programs. There are nearly 52 students enrolled in the program’s six classes, and even more students are members of the Scuba Club.
Mrs. Singleton has been teaching Scuba at Farragut for three years. She got her open water certification in 1996 and received her instructor’s certification shortly before becoming the head Scuba instructor at Farragut.
“I have students who I’ve taught every year that I’ve been here,” she says. “I’ve watched them go from fumbling nervous little divers to confident leaders.”
“It’s extremely helpful for me to count on them to help the younger students,” she continues. “They’re almost like teaching assistants because they have to know these things and they have to be able to get up and explain what different skills are.”
There are four certification levels students are able to earn in Farragut’s program. In their first year of Scuba, they work on their entry-level Open Water Diver certification during their first semester and, after earning that certification, work on their Advanced Open Water Diver certification during the second semester.
In their second year, students can earn their Rescue Diver certification, which emphasizes emergency response and diver rescue, and they start working toward their Master Diver certification, which is the highest, non-leadership program. To be a Master Diver, the diver must be 15 years or older. They begin to learn about professional diving and begin a candidate program to become Divemaster.
Divemaster is the first level of professional diving. With this certification, the diver can get a job and live aboard dive boats. You must be 18 to earn this certification, so our program uses the candidate program to train students so that when they turn 18, all they have to do is take the test. Mrs. Singleton estimates that two or three of her students will probably receive their Divemaster certification by the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
They have already gone on a couple of trips to work on their advanced level skills. Some students chose to go to Hudson Grotto in Hudson, FL, and they trained in deepwater diving and underwater navigation. Because Hudson Grotto is, as Mrs. Singleton puts it, “basically a deep dark hole,” some students were uncomfortable with it, so they chose to train underwater navigation at Lake Denton, a 66-acre freshwater lake in Highlands County. For one exercise on these kinds of trips, they do timed-math skills on the surface, and then they go down to 100 feet and do it again so they can see how the pressure and nitrogen affect their brain.
“It can be difficult to plan trips with so many students,” Mrs. Singleton said. “I’m planning to start working with local dive shops to start picking our students up from the Farragut waterfront so we can start to dive around here. I know the students really want to go on these trips.”
In addition to the two class trips they’ve already taken, they also went on a club trip to Riviera Beach on the east coast of Florida. There, they camped out and did boat dives in the Atlantic Ocean, and there was even a homecoming proposal underwater! Mrs. Singleton has three upcoming trips planned for Open Water Diver certifications, one of which being on Thursday, November 1st.
“We have so much fun,” Mrs. Singleton said. “Not just during lessons but even when we’re just camping and they’re outside of their comfort zones. I laugh so hard with these kids.”