My name is Stephen Krausse and I have been a certified Open Water SCUBA diver since 2002 logging over 150 dives. I have trained in both recreational SCUBA diving with SCUBA Schools International (SSI) as well as technical diving with Technical Diving International (TDI) and currently work as an SSI Dive Control Specialist (Assistant Instructor) through High Plains SCUBA, our local SSI dive shop here in Fort Collins, CO. Diving has taken me to Australia, Bonaire, Turks & Caicos, The Channel Islands as well as many springs, lakes and reservoirs in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
Finding the Diver Inside
If you had asked me about SCUBA diving 10 years ago you would have received some kind of vague ‘yeah that would be fun’ answer. I knew what diving was…after all I grew up with “The Undersea World of Jacque Cousteau” and I enjoyed pictures and movies that were related to the 71% of our world we rarely see; but somehow it seemed unattainable, something regular people just didn’t do. It never occurred to me that the fantastic world of SCUBA diving was only as far as a drive to the local dive shop.
At the time there were three dive shops in Fort Collins and I could have told you where any one of them was. Who visited them? I didn’t know. Obviously not regular people…
In October of 2001 I embarked on a solo adventure to the U.S. Virgin Islands to gather my thoughts and celebrate finishing my business degree. I had it in mind to make an heroic effort to be the best beach bum that ever was. I was an abject failure. So, in lieu of doing nothing I did everything I thought I could to embrace the ‘life aquatic’ sans the hunt for the Jaguar Shark. Did I dive? No. From Hooka Helmets to the Atlantis submarine (moved from St. Thomas to Barbados in 2008) to snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands…that’s when it happened…
…I hated snorkeling, really hated it. Swimming around the alleged ‘trail’ with a life preserver on was the single most frustrating recreational experience I could imagine(1). Being in the ocean, swimming the reef…that was magical and I was hooked. I had to get down there…but how?
I arrived home after a week of fun & sun and while I’d had a great time in the Virgin Islands my life began to settle back into the routine. What was that? A double take out the window of my car. The dive shop? It had always been there (as long as I could remember anyway) but somehow it was new. Had they painted the building? Maybe a new sign? It looked different…inviting…a friendly place where everybody would know my name.
What if…? I kept on driving.
I’m sure I had to be somewhere but memory flies as fast as time I’m afraid. Time flew again and once more…the drive by. Whoever decided that the third time was the charm was most likely banking on an exaggerated generalization, but in this case they were right. The third time I drove by the shop I made a fateful turn into the parking lot. I remember I got a space right in front of the door. Now, normally I’m a walker but I might need a quick exit if trying something new got too… well you get the picture.
As it turns out, there were regular people in there. Well, mostly regular but these people could SCUBA dive! Even better, it turned out that they could teach me to dive too!
Maybe I was having commitment issues or the stars weren’t aligned properly – that part all seems a little fuzzy now.
I was back.
It was as much the enthusiasm of the staff as it was my own desire to SCUBA dive that finally sealed the deal. Now that I am fully infected with SCUBA diving I can understand why they had such a genuine desire to promote diving. Yes… they make their living selling dive education and equipment but while they were selling gear they were sharing passion for the sport – for free! Gear-heads can find any number of sports to satisfy gearophilia but these guys really loved SCUBA diving in a way that was contagious. That day I signed on the dotted line(s) for classes and equipment. Ten years later all of the gear I bought that day is still in service (take good care of your gear and it will last you).
It ended up being a great turning point in my life as I began my exciting and rewarding SCUBA journey. When you don your SCUBA gear and enter the water you are immersed in a world as different from our terrestrial environment as you can imagine. You float weightless like an astronaut in a truly three dimensional wonderland with creatures that most people only see in pictures or aquariums. There is really no way for me to convey in words what it means to dive. What I’d like to leave you with is this: Diving and/or snorkeling is not just for some elite cadre of fortunate few, they can be for everyone – if you’ve ever thought about what it might be like – get out there and find out. From the day I set foot in the dive shop I have found the dive community welcoming and friendly and I think you will too. I jumped in with both feet (must have been a giant stride) and the only time I’ve ever looked back was to remember an awesome dive adventure or the great folks I’ve trained, dived and worked with over the years that have made it possible.
The surface interval’s over…get out there and dive!
Notes: (1) Snorkeling, if done properly is a great alternative to SCUBA for days you aren’t diving, surface intervals or for people with medical conditions that prevent them from diving.
You can find out more about diving:
If you live in Northern Colorado check out my friends: High Plains SCUBA
If you live anywhere in the world (or even if you’re just visiting) go to SCUBA Schools International: SSI
© 2013 Stephen Krausse – All rights reserved.