First-time scuba divers were wiggling into wet suits and walking backward in fins during the "Bring and Friend Diving" event held by the High Desert Divers Club Saturday at the Carson Aquatic Facility.
It was a popular event -- with all the equipment being used most of the time and people waiting patiently on the aluminum bleachers alongside the pool.
Secretary of State Dean Heller, who has already done a "discover dive" day with his wife, Lynne, was there with his three children who are first timers. While Harris, 14, Drew, 12, and 7-year-old Emmy -- who lit the Christmas lights in front of the Capitol -- were trying on masks in the pool, Heller described the wonder of scuba diving.
"Spending an extended amount of time under water, looking around, feeling free to take a deep breath -- it's just so unnatural," he said.
Heller, who swims regularly at the aquatic facility, later tried on a "Buoyancy Compensator Device" vest in the pool and a new group began the program at the bleachers.
"The most important thing about scuba diving is keep breathing," said instructor Sharon Wilson with Strictly Scuba Dive & Snorkel Center.
She explained the basics of diving, including basic gear like the buoyancy device, fins, mask and weights, and went through other basics of the underwater world.
"Let's see, what else? Aquatic life ... Anybody guess what kind of aquatic life we have in the pool today?" she asked. "Swimmers, divers, the secretary of state." Her students for the day chuckled.
One of the most important things, she explained, is the effect of increased water pressure at depth. She described how because people are full of water, the pressure is okay on your body, but in areas where you have air, such as the sinuses, lungs and ears, water pressure must be equalized.
"Never come up fast from under water," she warned. "That can be very dangerous."
Wilson called the event, which was free to all participants, a success.
"We've had a really busy afternoon, It's been great," she said.
She said a lot of people wonder about taking up diving.
"They say, 'I'd like to try that sometime.' And this gives them a chance to try it without making any kind of commitment."
While the deserts of the Silver State may not be known for scuba diving, Wilson says this is a great area to explore the underwater world.
"We're like 20 minutes from one of the most beautiful lakes in the world," she said. Under the clear waters of Lake Tahoe, she said you can see sunken barges, 1,000-year-old trees, and even grinding stones in old Indian villages.
For information on scuba diving, call the Strictly Scuba Dive & Snorkel Center at 884-3483 or go online at www.strictly-scuba.com