The bucket list sport

The Way the World Learns to Dive

Those of us in the Scuba Industry hear the words “it’s on my bucket list” quite frequently when talking to prospective divers.  It’s either a dream they have always had or a new found passion about living.  As dive professionals we need to remember that the majority of the world doesn’t do what we do and what is common place for us is a lifelong goal to some people.

The New Year always brings renew commitment to make life changes and check things off that bucket list.  Winter is the perfect time to take a class, play in the pool and then head off to some tropical location or local dive spot (that would be in May for those of us here at Aquatic Realm).  There has never been a better time to become a diver and see the world with a different prospective.

At Aquatic Realm we specialize in diving as a family activity.  We offer evening, weekend and even a 4 week Sunday afternoon class.  You can choose online or classroom academics and our pool is right off the classroom and always a warm 90 degrees.

We all know someone that has talked about diving and their “bucket list”.  This is the year to encourage them to take the plunge.  Stop by our dive center or call us at 937-428-9836.  Our staff is ready and passionate about making dive dreams come true.

For more information visit our website at

A Magical Time of the Year

T’was right before Christmas and all across the land

Christmas Tree
Merry Christmas

The Scuba Elves were busy giving Santa a hand

At dive shops all over tanks were filled, gear was bought

Because holiday vacations were eagerly sought

We dream of White Christmases by that we mean sand

and water so blue it’s the sky in our hand

The crew at Aquatic Realm is packing it’s gear

We’re off on a holiday, these words we will hear

“Pools Open, go diving” the Divemaster will call

 We enter a world where we often feel small

 And as we sink slowly our Christmas begins

With Christmas tree worms and starfish within

Our night dives will twinkle like stars in the sky

As bioluminescence from our fins begins to fly

No matter if your Christmas white is sand or snow

We wish you safe journeys where ever you go

 We hope this year Christmas brings joy to your heart

Whether we are together or are worlds apart

And where ever you are these words you should hear

Merry Christmas, my friend, and a Happy New Year.



In Support of the Warriors in Pink

Breast Cancer Awarness RibbonEvery year October brings the call to action to support and find the cure for Breast Cancer.  Most of us have loved ones, friends, and co-workers that have been affected by this awful disease and we know the awareness for us is every month. Sadly, my family is no exception.  Breast Cancer declares war on women of all ages and races and once that war is declared these brave women become fierce warriors in the battle for their lives.  They call women the weaker sex but for those of us who have witnessed the strength and courage these warriors display you would know they are anything but. The staff of Aquatic Realm Scuba Center is dedicated to helping find the cure in whatever small way we can.

During October 2012 we are committed to help by donating 10% off all of the courses purchased to Breast Cancer Research.  Buy Discover Scuba Experiences for your friends and family or celebrate life and take that dive class you have been promising yourself to take someday.  All courses qualify including some courses for non-divers too.

Please visit our website for more information about our “Take a Course for a Cause Campaign”.

However you choose to support the cause, we thank you………………………

From Blue to Green can be a rewarding transistion

Queen TriggerLiving in the Midwest, I have often wondered about the divide between divers who hold steadfast to being only blue water divers and those that dive in anything remotely wet be it  blue, green or somewhere in between.

Perhaps for those of us that were introduced to this awesome activity while on a beautiful tropical vacation it is possible that we relate our diving to the way we felt when we were on a vacation.  We were relaxed, stress free and far removed from the day to day grind at home.  So blue water diving returns us to that same environment time after time and there we have stayed.  I will go on record that I was introduced to this activity in the Cayman Islands and it doesn’t get much bluer than that and for a long time I considered myself a die hard blue water diver and didn’t get the local diving (green water) that people did here in Ohio.  But I soon discovered that I enjoyed diving too much to just wait for the annual or biannual vacation and so I dove into quarry diving………..literally.  Along the way I discovered that green water diving (quarries, lakes and rivers) have a lot to offer divers and it is in our back yards.  Oh, I still love to dive in beautiful blue ocean waters but I love to dive green too.

For those of you that have never dove in fresh water I would suggest you try it.  You will see many diQuarry Diversfferent varieties of fish, invertebrates and even freshwater jellyfish grace our Ohio waters.  We have artifacts that are placed in the water by both man and nature.  The great lakes offer some of the coolest wreck diving to be found anywhere.  The next time you drive on interstate 75 through Ohio think about the fact that the limestone that built that highway came from the same quarries we dive in now.  Once mined out they filled with spring water and mother nature reclaimed the quarry. And one more thing, quarry diving is not dark water with zero visibility.  We can have 50 feet plus viz on any given day at many of our quarries.

Ready to try diving in green water? Here are a few suggestions to make the transition easier.

1.  Consider yourself a good navigator in the ocean?  Taking the PADI Underwater Navigator specialty in a quarry is an excellent way to take your navigation skills to a whole different level.  Low visibility sharpens and enhances your other dive and compass skills.  I can honestly say that some of the best navigators I have dove with have been quarry divers.  The specialty offers more than just compass use, it also teaches natural navigation techniques.

2.  Have you mastered your buoyancy in the ocean and think there is nothing more to learn?  Taking the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course in a quarry prepares you to dive in any body of water.  There is more to buoyancy that hovering.  How you use your fins and hands determines how close you can get and what activities you can dive in.  When I was in the Indo-Pacific for the first time I was introduced to muck diving (very silty bottom composition) and I thanked my lucky stars that I was a quarry diver because all of the techniques that I used at home to stay off the bottom made my muck diving experience awesome. And we received cudos on our skills from the locals.

3.  You have to dress for success.  You need to layer your thermal protection and with the newer materials on the market today they are flexible and not bulky.  You need to cover your head.  If you don’t want a full hood then wear a dive beanie or look at a hooded vest or a wetsuit with the hood attached.  You can add a vest or thermal top under the suit (Aqualung makes a great one) and stay nice and toasty.  You need gloves and good soled boots.  Now before you complain about having to buy something to dive locally in and never use any other time, let me say that the thermal rash guard and beanie go on every dive trip.  They add just that added comfort for the end of the dive week chills or night diving.  And I have taken my 7 mil suit on many of my pacific diving locations and been grateful for it.  And the heavy soled dive boots, I just have one word on that subject:  Bonaire.

4.  Finally, find a seasoned local diver to introduce you to their back yard diving.  They have invaluable information to share to make the experience fun and enjoyable.  They would love to show you their favorite quarries, lakes and rivers.

For more information about diving with us in the local waters visit our website

And what ever color your water is just get out and go Diving!


Twenty Shades of Blue……..Dive Travel

Have you ever wondered when or why we started using colors to describe feelings, emotions or attitudes?  If we say a person is black and white it usually means rigid, non-flexible.  We associate red with anger, gray with indifference and blue with sad.  When we start adding in the “shades” of a color then we are trying to infer that different people will have varying degrees of that emotion.

And so for group dive travel we have twenty shades of blue.   The reasons divers do or don’t participate in group dive travel are as varied as the locations we travel to.  For some it just goes against their nature.  After all we are explorers of the earth’s last uncharted frontier.  That doesn’t mesh with structured group travel or does it?

By definition scuba diving is a solitary activity that we always do with someone else.  Once we step off the back of the boat and dissolve into the shades of blue tranquility of our world whether we are part of a group or not doesn’t have much impact on the dive itself.  As a person that has gone on solitary dive trips, joined other group trips and for the last twelve years organized and run group dive travel, I have experienced the pros and cons of all of them.  My opinion is there are no cons to organized group dive travel.

So here are ten shades of why Aquatic Realm group dive travel just makes sense……………

  1. The divers in our group are the family we choose.  They get us and what we love to do.  Some of us only see each other once a year but the bond runs deep and is everlasting.  Some of us aren’t even divers but that doesn’t matter around the dinner table with family.
  2. Unlimited dive buddies.  This takes the pressure off when one buddy wants to do more diving than the other, no problem with unlimited buddies.
  3. It is much more fun to share your photos, sightings and stories with people that really care about you and your adventures.
  4. As a brand new diver, joining group travel offers you the opportunity to dive with more experienced and seasoned divers.  Being good buddies is what we do so taking a new diver under our wings and guiding them is expected.
  5. As a seasoned experience diver, group travel usually has professional and seasoned advanced  divers ready to offer diving to any level you desire.
  6. Specialty training is usually part of group travel.  What a great way to experience new diving situations like deep, drift, night or even boat for the first time.  Divers introduced to a new dive activity with the proper techniques enjoy the dive more.  Training often means no stress or worry about what to expect and you will find that you will more than likely do that type of dive again.
  7. Safety in numbers.  Planes wait for you when you have the majority of the flight.  Resorts give special considerations to groups.  Having the whole dive boat means diving the sites you want and diving with people that share your attitudes about safety.  Someone is always watching out for you.
  8. For our group travel, we always include a scuba refresher.  Make sure the equipment is up to speed and if anything goes wrong on the trip you have an entire boat full of people ready to help out.  I went on a trip where my clothing luggage did not arrive.  I was supplied with clothes, bathing suits and all my needs before the sun set on that day.
  9. We always have a trip meeting.  Here you get to meet the travelers and find out all the details about the upcoming trip.  We do all the research for group travel and there are usually no surprises when you get there.  You know what to pack and what to expect.
  10. We respect each others privacy and don’t intrude on quiet time.  We celebrate milestones together even if it’s just logging your 20th dive.  We celebrate who we are and what we love to do.

2012 will see us in San Salvador to dive with the Sharks and Cozumel to drift our dives away.  2013 is our year to return to Little Cayman, the ultimate in pampered diving, and the exotic location of the Philippines for unparalleled diving. Visit our website for more information about our travels past and future.

Regardless of your thoughts about group travel remember, the world is just one big beautiful ocean with twenty shades of blue and it belongs to us.  Let’s go diving!

Let’s Look at Scuba and Kids


Aquatic Realm  - Kids in DivingIt’s Friday night at Aquatic Realm and divers can be heard poolside assembling their gear, doing their buddy checks, preparing for the upcoming pool dive.  Of course they are also talking about boys, girls, video games and school because these divers, many of whom have years of diving experience, range in age from 8 to 14 years old.


It has always be a topic of contention in the diving community about kids and diving and while the adults and experts continue to argue and debate it out, the kids are quietly becoming awesome divers and their numbers are growing worldwide.   As someone who has dedicated over 15 years to teaching kids to dive I have put a lot of time and energy into researching and developing dive programs for children.  For the sake of simplicity let’s assume that the RSTC and the majority of the training agencies have reviewed and covered the issues about ages for diving by issuing the recommended depth restrictions, supervision controls and general health and development guidelines and not get into that part of the argument.

Why do I think kids adapt to becoming divers as well if not better than some adults?  Diving is all about rules and knowledge. Applying the knowledge and following the rules means diving should be a safe and enjoyable activity for all ages. Here is where kids have the advantage over adults…..

  • Kids are natural born rule followers.  Rules are how they live their lives. They have rules at home, at school and in the games and sports they play.  Learning and accepting the rules associated with diving come second nature to them and they rarely vary from what they have learned even years after they are certified, I still see my kids (now adults) following safe diving rules unlike some of the adults I have trained that promptly threw the rules out the window.
  • Kids expect to answer to and follow direction from an adult.  They trust adults to provide guidance and hopefully they are being raised to respect and listen to an adult.  They answer to a parent at home, a teacher at school and a coach in their hobbies and sports.  Listening to and following the direction of a Scuba Instructor comes very natural to the kids and they are rarely a supervision problem.
  • Kids have one job from birth to young adulthood – Learning. Going to school, doing homework and getting an education is their primary purpose for most of their waking hours.  Along the way they are expected to become responsible, caring people and learn how to get along with others.  The academics and training that comes with becoming a diver usually doesn’t present much problem for kids, they are natural students, (Assuming the parent did their due diligence ahead of time and verified the child was academically prepared for the course. More on this subject later.)  Kids are prepared to read books, do homework, take tests and meet deadlines unlike some adults we train that haven’t seen a test or classroom in many years. The buddy systems are a core part of Scuba and they require kids to learn to become responsible to and for another person.  This builds confidence and responsibility.
  • Kids that become divers do so for different reasons than adults.  They aren’t checking off a bucket list or looking for an adrenaline high.  They aren’t doing it for their spouse, significant other or to get a great job in the Caribbean somewhere.  They are doing it because they love the water or want to become a Marine Biologist. Lots of times they have a dream to dive with a parent, grand parent or sibling.

So, now that you might be thinking that maybe diving would be OK for your kids,  how do you know if your child is ready for Scuba?  Ask or review these questions……..

  • Is the idea of becoming a diver yours or the child’s? The child has to do this alone so make sure he or she really wants to do this for themselves and not just to please you.
  • When you talk about it are they engaged and full of positive questions or quiet and just listen to you talk about diving.  Sometimes not saying anything speaks volumes.  This is where a trained PADI professional with experience in kids can really be helpful.
  • If you aren’t a diver (a large percentage of diving kids don’t have diving parents) are you knowledgeable enough to talk about the subject to them?  Do you have any preconceived negative ideas or fears about diving that you might pass on to the child?  Kids bring no perceived fears or ideas to the table. This makes training kids a double edge sword.  Their trust is unwavering so please, again, seek out a professional you trust and learn all you can.
  • Does the child ask questions about fearful things like sharks, drowning, running out of air, deep water?  This would be a red flag that the child has some fears that would not be conducive to diving at this time.
  • Is your child a very good swimmer with little or no fear of being in water over their head?  Can they use a mask and snorkel?  Surprisingly the number one misconception is that if your child is on the swim team he/she will be a natural for scuba.  Trust me when I tell you it does not cross over.  Swimming and diving are not that much alike.
  • Have you looked at your child’s schedule and commitments before deciding to add the classroom, pool and open water training requirements for the class to their life?   You can set them up to fail if you don’t take the amount of work required into consideration before starting the course.

I have actually written a few articles on this subject and a flow chart was reprinted in the April 2012 Issue of Sport Diver with more on the above suggestions.

OK, so now that you have decided that diving is right for your kids, what’s the next step?

  • Find a dive professional that specializes in training kids.  Meet with them, talk to them, put as much time into choosing this person as you would a babysitter, teacher or coach.  At Aquatic Realm we not only teach kids to dive we specialize in it.  The majority of our staff members have taken specialized Instructor Courses in training kids.
  • Allow the instructor to introduce scuba to your child without you being involved.  Enroll them in a PADI Bubblemaker (8 & 9 year old) or Discover Scuba (10 and up).  Have the child evaluated without the pressures of pleasing or displeasing you the parent.  Listen to the recommendations of the instructor.  Even if your child is not quite ready the great thing about kids is that a few months can make a huge difference so they just get to come back and go diving again!
  • Pick the right program for your child’s maturity level.  PADI Seal team is perfect for 8, 9 and up if they just want the fun of pool diving with friends while they learn their dive skills.  PADI Junior Open Water for 10 and up, if they are ready, is a nice transition from the Seal course to diver. See the link below for more information on all kids diving programs.

One of these days when I look back at my professional dive career I will look at all of the great people I have had the privledge of introducing to this magnificent activity but most of all I will remember all of the kids.  They are my proudest accomplishment.  I planted the seed of diving deep in their hearts and I watered and cared for it regularly.  I watched them grow into the most wonderful lifelong divers in the world and my love of diving will live forever in their hearts.  I would dive with any of them any time. What an awesome feeling to take away from any career.

For more information on programs available for Kids at Aquatic Realm Scuba Center click here.


The Dive Tribe

Divemasters MotivateSplashing could be heard resounding off the walls of our pool this week as a new group of tribe members began the process of the Divemaster program. Along with the good natured complaining and moaning (at times it was real) was the underlying sense of excitement and pride that each of them exuded.  They were doing it, they were actually on their way to becoming a Divemaster. Watching them meet their watermanship skill requirements, I realized that I was really looking forward to see what I would learn from this new group as they transform into Aquatic Realm Tribe Members.

By definition a Tribe is a group or family that shares common interests, beliefs or religion usually with one leader. Following that concept, a Dive Tribe would be a group of dive professionals that share a passion for diving, values and concern for the overall health of the worlds underwater environment.  At Aquatic Realm, our Tribe is a family of dedicated dive professionals and it is strengthened with the infusion of new tribe members that share our passion and commitment.  As a PADI Course Director I am proud to be their leader.

The process of becoming a Dive Tribe member begins with Divemaster.  While those of us in the dive community all recognize the term Divemaster, just what exactly does having that rating mean?

Most of us already know the basic requirements. To enroll in the PADI Divemaster program you must be at a minimum a Rescue Diver, 18 years of age, have 40 dives to enter the program and 60 dives to exit, be current in CPR and FA and complete all of the course training and requirements.

But what drives a diver to take the professional path?  It generally breaks down into 2 motivating factors:

  • a passion for advanced skills and knowledge for personal gratification
  • the desire to work in the industry and help other divers on their journey

You can do the program for only one or both of the reasons above, it is totally up to the individual. The Divemaster rating is the foundation for all levels of PADI professional training. Regardless of our ratings we all started our careers as Divemasters. Once enrolled, you are in a program not a course, become a candidate instead of a student and the Instructors involved in your training become your mentors.  Mentors that will guide you to:

  • Advanced dive knowledge in dive skills, the environment, equipment, dive planning, dive theory, physics and physiology
  • Exemplary dive skills
  • Training in Search and Recovery, Navigation and Deep Diving
  • Training and supervising techniques in working with both student divers and certified divers
  • Professional level rescue skills
  • The ability to anticipate, recognize and respond to the needs involved in training and supervising.
  • The skills to manage a dive site or dive boat efficiently and safely
  • Take your personal diving to a level of confidence and ability that you never knew was possible
  • To make a difference in someones dive and/or life

The path to professional is an individual journey with a  Dive Tribe guiding and supporting you every step of the way.  You learn a lot about yourself during this journey and realize you are part of a pretty amazing thing.  It isn’t just a slogan, we really do transform lives in the dive industry.  What a great job description! As an added bonus your training for professional will cross over into your non-diving life and enrich it too.

For some of us the path began with our first breath on SCUBA and for others it may have started during rescue training wondering if they could become a dive professional.  But where it starts doesn’t matter, all that really matters is that you go with it.  You will never regret the decision. A PADI professional is the most sought after dive rating in the world and  it isn’t given to us, we earn it.  So what are you waiting for……………


Now is the time to join the Dive Tribe!

Divemaster Orientation class is Free but requires registration. Call today at 937-428-9836 to register or visit the website for dates.

Let’s take a look at Air Consumption

Welcome to our first Blog.  One of the segments we will talk about from time to time is addressing questions that our dive staff answers on a regular basis. We will title those “Let’s take a look at”.

So let’s take a look at high air consumption.  Nothing is more frustrating to a diver, new and old alike, than paying the same money for a long awaited dive trip to some exotic location only to have to return to the boat long before everyone else due to an air consumption situation.  First let me say, cudo’s to the diver that recognizes their air levels and safely ends their dive instead of sucking the condensation from the tank in lieu of acknowledging the issue.  This not only is dangerous to the diver but it jeopardizes the people diving with them.  That being said, the most common question we get is ” I need to buy or rent a larger tank because I use a lot of air”.  Believe me when I say that in most cases there is always a reason for using a lot of air and it rarely deals with your size or lung capacity.  A bigger tank is not the fix!

High air consumption can usually be attributed to one or more of the items below:

  1. Nerves or comfort level
  2. Improper or Inefficient fin kick
  3. Too much or too little weight
  4. Improper weight distribution
  5. Profile while moving underwater
  6. Unfamiliar Dive Gear

Being nervous or uncomfortable about or during a dive is normal if you haven’t dove for a while or are unsure of your skill level for the dive requirements. But if it happens every dive then you need to take steps to overcome the stress.  Stress sucks air!  Some suggestions……… 

  1. Enroll in a Scuba Refresher every few months to keep your skills sharp and then one right before the trip.  At ARSC we include a complimentary refresher with every trip.
  2. Take a PADI Continuing Education Course.  It’s not just about getting another card it’s about obtaining more confidence, getting guidance and support from an ARSC professional while having fun diving and learning new skills. 

An improper kick is one of the biggest culprits to high air consumption.  Just like an improperly maintained car has poor gas consumption; improperly kicking during a dive will do the same thing to your air.    Try these tips………..

  1. Are your fins in good condition for the best possible performance?  Materials have become lighter, faster and quite simply better. Fins are not a lifetime purchase, upgrade you won’t regret it.
  2. Do you still think diving is a speed sport and the faster the better?  Slow down, kick and then glide as far as you can before your next kick.
  3. Have you had your fins fitted and evaluated by a dive professional to ensure they match your kick and your style of diving?

Too Much, Too Little or Distribution of Weight = Underwater profile problems and all contribute to air consumption problems.  New divers want to wear more lead for a certain comfort level, like a security blanket. But more lead means pushing more volume through the water and using more energy creating less comfort, it’s a cycle.  Not enough weight is usually because a diver has failed to account for the buoyancy of salt water or the thickness change of their suit; whichever it is they struggle.  Even a seasoned diver will consume more air if they are under-weighted and constantly trying to control their buoyancy. Some divers become obsessed with dropping weight but this is never a good idea.  Learn to dive with enough weight to compensate for tank changes at the end of the dive. When you distribute your weight properly you will create a profile that allows you to move effortlessly throught the water (yes, you hear that in your entry level class but it’s still true). Try moving the lead forward, to the tank band if possible or on your ankles.  There are lots of options so experiment.   If you want help from a professional…………..

  1. Enroll in a PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Course.  It’s like having a private counseling session with a professional to custom tailor your diving style for your weight needs and profile concerns.  Lead placement is unique to each diver and this course finds the perfect place for you to wear the perfect amount of weight.  At ARSC we offer PPB pool clinics all year around in our heated pool so fine tuning your diving is a call away. 

And finally have you ever noticed that you may not drive a rental car with as much comfort and ease as your own.  Or that you play your other sports better with your racket, skis, or golf clubs than the ones you borrowed?  The game is OK but not as good as it could be. Diving is no different.  Owning your own gear makes that much difference in weight distribution through integrated systems and proper fit for streamlining and comfort. It removes the stress from having to figure out how everything works or doesn’t.  If you purchase the right fitting gear for your type of diving along with a custom pool dive to learn how to weight it and use it properly, you will probably pay for the gear with the new dive time you are going to get back underwater because you have fixed your air consumption problems. 

Now that we have looked at Air Consumption, you don’t have to pay to sit on the boat ever again.  Happy Diving From Aquatic Realm.