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ASU Devil Divers get ASU's feet wet certifying scuba divers

Devil Divers
ASU's diving club, the Devil Divers, is pictured in the swimming pool at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Tempe campus.

A scuba diving club in the middle of the desert may seem like a mirage, but Devil Divers are making a splash on campus.

The scuba diving club instructs and certifies members in a variety of scuba courses. The club also organizes biannual diving trips to locations around the world, Devil Divers president and microbiology graduate student Brandon Guida said.

“We’re open to anyone affiliated with ASU, which means faculty, alumni, student’s family members and friends are welcome," Guida said

The club doesn’t have any dues or weekly meetings in a traditional sense. They host at least two training or diving events per week that members are free to attend based on personal progression, comfort level or schedule.

“We’re really hands on, so the ‘meetings’ are actually pool training or actual dives,” Guida said.

Devil Divers certifies members from the basic, open water diver level all the way up to divemaster, the first professional level in scuba diver training, Mike Thomas, the club’s lead instructor and master scuba diver trainer, said.

“Most new members are beginners, some have gone on intro dives, but about 90 percent are just learning to dive,” he said.

For new divers, the open water diver certification consists of three parts. A classroom knowledge portion that covers dive theory, a pool session where divers receive hands on underwater experience and four “check out” dives.

“Our program costs about $100 less than anywhere else in the state,” Guida said.

Devil Divers can offer classes at a reduced rate because both Guida and Thomas are certified instructors, which reduces overhead. Prices for individual courses can be found at the club’s website.

“The number one benefit of diving with the club is that we are able to create a more personal experience then you get with commercial dive shop,” Guida said.

Classes taught by the club typically range from four to six people compared to commercial classes that can have as many as 10 to 20 students. 

“More personal time with the instructor allows us to train people to a high level of competency and confidence, I like to make sure students are comfortable with their skills,” Thomas said.

He said he has certified students that are afraid of the water, students with anxiety about claustrophobia and students with disabilities.

According to the club's website, it primarily works to generate interest in scuba diving in a fun and friendly environment. This includes opportunities for people to try out scuba diving before committing to the course.

“We offer an experience where people can try out the gear and get in the pool to see if they want to pursue a certification,” Guida said.

The club frequently travels to Rocky Point, Mexico to allow members to complete the mandatory dives required for certification, but they also organize two bigger trips each year.

“We’re going to Hawaii in December and the Florida Keys over spring break this year,” Guida said.

Previous trips have included Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Cozumel, Mexico, Aruba, Mexico, Belize, Bird Island, Mexico and Bonar, Dutch Antilles.

If people have their own groups, Devil Divers will allow them to set their own times for classes and even arrange custom dive trips.

“We are always happy to organize custom trips for groups of divers. … We can arrange everything including boats, guides, lodging and gear,” Guida said.

Since Thomas established the club in 2006, word of mouth has put the club in contact with more than 2,000 people. There are typically about 150 active members on campus during the year, Guida said.

While the club has been growing, many students still have not heard of it. That's not to say students wouldn't be interested. 

“I think it’s cool that they certify students. Meeting new people and traveling to fun places just adds to it,” journalism sophomore Oren Simchy-Gross said.

Related Link:

Scuba club members dive around the world

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