The fundraiser for Professional Diving was a success. Melanie Longo, a senior in the Professional Diving program who started the fundraiser, helped raise almost 5000 dollars for the diving program. Many people from all jobs and walks of life joined us at the seaport museum. There were stations in which visitors would engage with Lenny Speregen’s former commercial diving gear, or be put into an scenario where you would assemble objects in darkness, followed by caping a simulated oil leak. There were also stations where children and adults would paint oyster shells and talk to some of the members in the diving class. There were tons of oysters eaten as well.
Overall, the Professional Diving program thanks everyone that came out to support our program alongside the Billion Oyster Project. Every donation helped our program by becoming stronger with the community it’s in, educating people on our purpose in the harbor, and producing better divers!
So it was my first ever dive outside the pool and I was really excited. I remember getting up around 3 in the morning really tired, at that point I was not looking forward to anything but sleep. This was literally the earliest I had ever been up in my life. I packed my lunch, grabbed my stuff and I got in the car. On the way to the BMB I saw that there was a store open and so I ran in and got myself a Bacon Egg and Cheese for breakfast. After arriving to the BMB I saw that most of my friends were there and we all started talking about how hyped we all were for our first dive in Dutch Springs. We had about an hour before the bus left so Quincy, Steven and I walked to Dunkin Donuts. Almost 30 minutes later the bus arrived. We boarded the bus and we were all present but one person, Diego. Well, Diego was unfortunately stuck on the R train and missed the bus. 2 hours later we arrived at Dutch Springs.
The seniors guided us on how we should unload the van and from there we went on to one of the most unforgettable days of my life. The visibility was great and we got to see a lot of different fish. I was actually able to dive twice with no problems and finished all my skills required for that day. The ride back was the best part because I was finally able to sleep.
It was a dark and stormy night. Okay, it was actually a really nice day but that’s besides the point. After setting up my kit and swimming my 4 laps like usual, it was time to get suited up. I found the biggest trash bag, I mean dry suit, and start putting it on. Since I was already wet, it was a hell of a time getting into the dry suit. After 5 minutes trying to get at least my waist into the dry suit, I was already ready to give up. But Grandpa Lenny wasn’t having it. He made me insert my arms into the sleeves and then started stretching the neck seal and told me to put my head through the hole. After my head finally got through, I felt like I was being choked. In all honesty, once I got into the water THE FIRST TIME, I actually really enjoyed it. Floating around on the surface like the Michelin Man was actually really entertaining. But once it was time to go underwater, all hell broke loose. Fast forward to when I was underwater. As I kept descending, I felt like I was being sucked by a vacuum, it felt as if I was in a space bag. Then as I kept putting air in my dry suit, the air would continuously rush to my feet, causing me to ascend feet first. In the corner of my eye I witnessed Grandpa Lenny laugh at my misery and in that moment, I knew that I HATED DRY SUITS.
On September 23rd, the sophomore class went on our first open water dive at Dutch Springs Pennsylvania. Before this, we had only done 2 dives, both which were at Bushwick pool. This was a great experience for me and my fellow students as we learned how to prepare for an open water dive and what it was like to actually dive in open water.
In the week leading up to our Dutch Springs dive, we had a lot of work to do. We learned what we needed to bring and for most of the week, we tried on gear to find our fit for everything from wetsuits to fins and packed the van. We were ready for Dutch Springs.
The next day when we got to Dutch Springs, everyone was excited. We unloaded the van and all set up our kits. I couldn’t wait to get into the water. I was put into the second group so I watched as my classmates entered the water. I was happy for them, but I also wanted to be with them. I walked back up the hill and started to get my wetsuit on.
As my classmates started to exit the water, me and my buddy got our kits on and walked down to the water. As we stepped into the water, it seeped into my boots and the water was cold. We stepped out onto the first platform and it was amazing. We put on our masks and snorkels and swam out to the underwater platform that we would be diving at.
We started with our descent and it was relatively easy for me which was surprising as I had struggled in the two previous confined water dives with equalizing. However, once we got to a certain point my buddy struggled with her equalization and we had to resurface from around 15 feet. We waited for Lenny to resurface and he told my buddy to wait at the surface and he descended with me.
We descended and I was able to reach the platform after a few times having to rise a tiny bit to help with my equalization. I was on the platform and I was completely fine. I just looked around and was amazed at how I was doing and just being underwater in an open area. Lenny went to help my buddy and when he descended again and met us at the platform. He buddied me up with a junior diver who was with us and we started to do our tests.
We cleared our masks and retrieved our regulators while blowing bubbles. The basics of scuba diving. But it just felt amazing to be doing this surrounded by other divers. However, when I started to ascend my ears started to hurt. I thought nothing of it but it started to hurt even more and now I knew that I needed to stop. I signalled to Lenny and he told me to descend slightly and try again. I did and was able to ascend.
This dive was an amazing experience for me and I hope for all of my classmates as well. It was our first open water dive and there were so many experiences that came with it from trying on gear to packing our first open water van. I very much enjoyed this dive and can’t wait for many more experiences in this program.
In the eleventh grade dive class, we have been working on getting our Rescue Diver Certification. We trained primarily at Bush Terminal Park in Brooklyn. The divers along with myself were working on this certification since last year. There are a number of requirements we needed to complete in order to get our certification. First thing we needed to do is get CPR, AED, first aid, and emergency oxygen administration certified from DAN (Divers Alert Network). It took a lot of work and dedication but after about two months we were officially certified. Then it was time for us to start practicing our Rescue Diving skills in the open water. These skills included: unresponsive diver at the surface and underwater, rescue a panicked diver on surface and underwater, rescue a distressed diver underwater, search for missing diver by using multiple search patterns. At the end of this course we had to complete two rescue scenarios working together as a group, using the rescue skills above. After finishing our two rescue scenarios, as of November 2, 2017 we have successfully completed our Rescue Diver Certification. Congratulations Liam, Joanna, Chris, Hannah, Oskar, Crismaris, Zerina, Manny and Me!