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21 June 2013

Large UM club experiences world-class dives

Past T-shirts for the UM SCUBA Club boast that it is an organization “where wet dreams come true.” The scuba club provides students, faculty, employees and alumni a chance to dive at reduced rates in some of the best dive spots in South Florida, so for passionate divers, the slogan may not be too far off.
As one of the biggest student organizations on campus with more than 300 members, it also offers discounted open water certifications and advanced rescue and divemaster certifications.
“We want to continue to go on the best dives in South Florida and continue to get word out about what we do,” said Michelle Penkrot, a co-president and four-year SCUBA club member.
To do this, the club has ramped up its social media efforts with the addition of a new Facebook page. The club is accomplishing its goal so far, as the first meeting brought in 91 new divers who enrolled in a certification class.
Club advisor Nevis Fregien links the increase in new divers and members to the impressive manner in which the club is run, as well as the types of people it attracts.
“The word got out that the SCUBA club is a good club, it’s a good group of kids, responsible kids,” he said.
Some highlights this year include live grouper spawning dives, lemon shark dives, a dive in the Living Sea Aquarium at EPCOT and dives at wrecks in Key Largo. While many of these are for advanced open water divers only, there are still many unique dives for other members, too.
One of these dives is the Blue Heron Bridge dive in West Palm Beach.
“The Blue Heron Bridge dive is arguably one of the best shore dives in Florida, if not the United States,” Penkrot said. “It is definitely not one to miss.”
For students both new and old who are looking for ways to get involved in an activity and meet new people, SCUBA Club is a great place to start. It offers opportunities for what Fregien describes as “world-class diving” and a chance to visit and experience our current home in South Florida underwater.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a very different experience and something that you will never get to experience again,” co-president Lee Qi said. “You cannot get this anywhere else.”
One of the greatest aspects of the club is the community that it builds.
“During my first dive, I didn’t know anybody but now some of my best friends are from SCUBA club,” Penkrot said.
The strong relationships she built through the club are not uncommon. Fregien believes that “when you dive together, there is a certain kinship that you have.”
The club is open to divers and non-divers regardless of experience. Club membership is $40 for a semester and $65 for the year. Dives are $35 for a two-tank dive and members must bring their own masks, fins and snorkels. All other dive gear is available for rent at no additional cost. Open water classes and certification take place at the beginning of each semester.
Meetings are held every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in Cox 126. More information on the SCUBA club and the certification process can be found at umscuba.org or at Facebook.com/UMScuba.