Prospective students strapped on masks and fins recently to see if scuba diving might make it into their future class schedules.
On Oct. 1, 10 prospective students showed up at the pool ready to dive into Discover Scuba, taught by professor Ken Balvin. The free event was part of Health Week and Eastfield’s Amazing Race.
“[Scuba diving] teaches about a healthy lifestyle,” said Balvin, a dive master who has been teaching at Eastfield for 37 years. “You need to be fit in order to dive. You have to be fit in order to enjoy it. Health Week: It’s about life.”
Balvin said some people tell him they didn’t know Eastfield had scuba lessons. Others tell him that they didn’t even know there was a pool at the college. They all take scuba for different reasons.
“Some people get it off their bucket lists,” Balvin said.
That afternoon the sun was blinding and the water was perfect. Some beginning divers appeared to be nervous, but others were smiling. Patty Stephan was one of the nervous ones.
“I’m still pretty anxious, breathing underwater, but it was better than what I’ve done before,” she said “I have to get past this anxiety and work through it.”
Balvin showed a lot of patience.
“You try to have a little fun and disarm them,” he said. “I think I’ve always been [patient].”
Stephan said Balvin worked with her one on one and calmed her down when she would freak out and get out of the water.
“He convinced me to stay in, and I’m glad I did, because then I did get used to it,” she said. “He was very encouraging, even before you get into the pool.”
Nick Flores, one of Balvin’s diving assistants, is working on becoming a dive master himself.
“He’s the best,” Flores said of his mentor.
Balvin held a discovery dive last semester, and said he plans to host another one in the spring.
Balvin said he was pleased with the outcome this semester.
“It was actually a very good group,” he said.