Diving into New Waters | St. Lawrence University

Diving into New Waters

Rachel Loyst
2021

Scuba diving hooked me from my very first dive. I was in Jamaica with my family, and we all decided to embark on a scuba adventure together. We put on the wetsuits and tanks, trained with our instructors, and then were taken out into the open ocean. I remember descending 30 feet down and feeling the greatest sense of adventure – watching the brightly colored fish swim past me and seeing such untouched wonders up close. I did a few more dives after that, but never thought I would have the opportunity to continue pursuing this passion... until I arrived at St. Lawrence.

As a freshman at the semi-annual Student Organization Fair, I was wandering around just like all of the other curious first-year students. I had an idea of clubs I might want to join, like Club Soccer or a Pre-Med Society, but then I saw the big sign for Blue Fin Diving. I was both shocked and pleasantly surprised – I never would have thought that my tiny school in the North Country would have access to such an incredible open water activity, which is the beauty of the club fair to start with! I spoke with one of the student leaders and the master diver about getting certified, and it didn’t take long for me to sign fervently and ask about the first meeting.

One aspect of the club that really surprised me was how easy it was to obtain my certification. Everyone in the club met for three hours, once a week during a five-week time frame for the educational portion. We would spend one hour in the classroom, followed by 1-2 hours applying what we learned in the pool. The most daunting part for me was doing the four open water dives in such cold water. It was April by the time we finished the classroom portion, and the water was still around 39° F. Nowhere near the water I became accustomed to in Jamaica! However, my classmates and I got together and made a pact to do the dives together no matter what the temperature was – consistently challenging each other to be our best and get out of our comfort zones. Alongside my St. Lawrence classmates and now friends, we were able to get certified together in almost freezing temperatures – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Getting PADI certified at St. Lawrence was one of the most formative experiences from my first year. I completed the class with one of my closest friends, and now we are co-presidents and able to give back to provide the same experiences to the newest members of the club. Now on the other side of the table at the Student Organization Fair, I love seeing the same look of surprise on people’s faces as they see that same Blue Fin Diving sign. I can’t wait to bring this knowledge outside of campus, exploring the waters of places like Australia and Fiji when I study abroad next year. I’m so happy that I took the plunge (no pun intended), and that I go to a school like St. Lawrence that made it possible.