Breathing lessons introduce you to a hidden world

Scuba opens the door to a variety of hobbies

Outside: sports, activities, events

January 29, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

Perhaps you long to search for colorful marine life in the depths of a tropical sea.

Or maybe you just want to discover what hides in the shallows of the murky Chesapeake Bay.

Whatever your dreams of underwater adventure entail, a little scuba training could bring you closer to realization.

Those skilled in Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus are eligible for a whole new world of hobbies and recreation opportunities, said Aqua Ventures scuba center co-owner Michael Eversmier, a local who's been teaching people how to dive for more than 20 years.

Certified divers are able "to go and do something underwater that interests them," Eversmier said.

Those interests range from wreck exploration to cave diving, underwater photography and spear fishing.

"Most people don't take scuba diving just because they want to take it; they do it because they want to take up" an aquatic hobby, added Eversmier, whose shop is in Cockeysville.

But don't you have to be a master swimmer to join in the fun?

Eversmier says no.

In fact, he said, "Just [being] comfortable with the water is probably more important than being a good swimmer."

That said, most introductory classes require that students complete a 200-yard swim test.

And as for danger, Eversmier said the sport is safe as long as the rules and guidelines are followed.

"I believe that I've actually had more people who've had problems getting to and from the dive site [in their cars] than from the diving itself."

Local dive centers

Anne Arundel County

The Annapolis Scuba Center offers programs for recreational and professional divers. Staff says the group class sizes are limited to ensure that each student gets individual attention and instruction.

Annapolis Scuba Center is at 150-G Jennifer Road, Annapolis. Call 410-266-8327 or visit www.annapolis scuba.com.

Chesapeake Underwater Sports is owned and operated by Maryland native and scuba expert Mike Nieman. The Annapolis resident, who offers classes for beginners and advanced divers, also organizes diving excursions to Florida, the Caribbean and the South Pacific.

Chesapeake Underwater Sports is at 416 Fourth St., Annapolis. Call 410-280-0648 or visit www.chesapeake scuba.com.

Baltimore County

Located in Cockeysville, Aqua Ventures is a full-service scuba and snorkeling center that offers a wide range of classes, including scuba refresher courses and specialized training in wreck diving, underwater photography, marine-life identification and others.

Aqua Ventures is at 9731 York Road, Cockeysville. Call 410-666-2326 or visit www .aquaventuresonline.com.

Frederick County

Located in Frederick, the Brass Anchor Scuba Center offers in-store classes for both beginners and experienced divers. Pool sessions are held at Hood College, and training dives take place at various Maryland and Pennsylvania locations.

The Brass Anchor Scuba Center is at 519 E. Church St., Frederick. Call 301-663-9363 or visit www.brassanchor .com

Harford County

The Scuba Center of Bel Air offers beginning, advanced and master scuba classes. The center also offers snorkeling lessons for those not ready to take the scuba plunge.

The Scuba Center of Bel Air is at 29B Ellendale St., Bel Air. Call 410-638-6996 or visit www.belairscuba.com.

Howard County

In addition to an array of basic and advanced skills classes, Columbia Scuba also offers night diving and other specialty courses. Classes are offered both weeknights and on Sunday mornings.

Columbia Scuba is at 6695-C Dobbin Road, Columbia. Call 410-381-1994 or visit www.columbiascuba.com.

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