Members of the UWF SCUBA Club diving at a shipwreck in Pensacola. Photo courtesy of UWF SCUBA Club Facebook page.
Members of the UWF SCUBA Club diving at a shipwreck in Pensacola.
Photo courtesy of UWF SCUBA Club Facebook page.

Kyle Treadway
Staff Writer

The University of West Florida SCUBA Club not only offers students an extracurricular activity, but also gives them valued experience before heading into their career field.

The club allows those with a maritime biology and marine archeology, or similar major to become SCUBA certified and gives them diving experience while saving money.

The club is a part of the UWF Recreation and Sports Services.

“Our main goal is to get reduced pricing for students so it is cheaper for them to go diving,” club president Jamie Glynn, senior, said.

“It isn’t necessarily the cheapest sport around, and in order to get people out there we have our own gear so our members can use it as long as they pay membership fees.”

The membership fees for the club are $20 or a semester or $30 for the fall and spring semesters. Those fees go toward the cost of dive trips and equipment for the club. There are currently around 70 members in the club.

The club mainly dives off of local beaches, off of Fort Pickens or onto shipwrecks. Over spring break, the club takes trips to premier dive locations around Florida.

“Sometimes we go diving down in the (Florida) keys,” senior Nathan Oliphant, club vice president said. “There’s a bunch of shipwrecks down there so we try to get there.”

Recently, the club hosted an underwater pumpkin carving contest a week before Halloween.

They also recently joined the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to help with a process called oyster bagging.

This process involves bagging oyster shells from restaurants around Pensacola into mesh bags. Oyster bagging helps to oxygenate the water and helps to promote reef growth.

Another part of the club’s community service involves cleaning the entire pool in the UWF Aquatic Center every two weeks.

The club also trains members that have no prior SCUBA experience to become certified.

“We offer all types of levels of SCUBA certification,” junior Jennifer Smith, club secretary said. “We start off with the first level, open water certification, then move on to advanced and so on.

“We go all the way from open water certification to master diver,” she said.

While most of the club’s members are maritime biology and maritime studies majors, it is not restricted to those majors. Any UWF student is welcomed to join the club.

For a student with no SCUBA experience, it takes two weekends to become open water certified and begin SCUBA diving.

The club usually meets every Monday in Building 58 Room 101 from 7 to 8 p.m. Midway through the semester, the club changed it schedule to only meet every other Monday. The club’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17.

For additional information, students are encouraged to contact the club’s Facebook page or email the club’s officers at scubaclub@uwf.edu