Discovering Scuba Diving
Oct 14, 2010One of the more interesting Inquiry Seminars for first-year students is English professor Scott Olsen’s class, “Adventure, Exploration and Risk,” where students may try their hands at sailing, scuba diving or flying airplanes.
Most of the adventures are new experiences for the students.
“Scuba diving is something I’ve never tried before and the thrill of being able to breathe underwater and encounter the sensation of weightlessness was incredible,” says Erik Thompson ’14, Apple Valley, Minn. “It turned out to be an enjoyable experience.”
Other Inquiry Seminars may examine works of literature or delve into scientific discoveries. The classes give all first-year students a common academic experience beginning with the first day of Orientation and continuing through their first semester. One goal is to help them become active, inquisitive learners.
In the Concordia swimming pool the class learned the basics of safely using scuba equipment, especially the air tanks and breathing apparatus.
“When I put in the mouthpiece and inhaled, it instantly made me light-headed and dizzy,” says Thompson. “I’ve never inhaled something like that and it took a couple minutes to get used to, but once I got the hang of it, breathing through a mouthpiece was easy.”
Once the students became acclimated to their new underwater world, they began to explore their surroundings.
“The feeling of breathing underwater, what no normal human being is able to, was very exhilarating,” says Thompson. “Then I tried several swimming techniques including upside down, facing the surface, spinning my body 360 degrees, and doing flips. It’s so bizarre to experience nothing but water around you. My mind had to initially fight the natural urge to go to the surface for air.”
Eventually Thompson and his classmates developed a sense of calm and relaxation underwater.
“We looked like a bunch of awkward seals experiencing water for the first time in our lives,” he laughs. “Scuba diving is an activity a lot of people never experience. Now that I have done it, I can say that it was an extremely gratifying, pleasurable and insightful activity for me.”