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Five things you need to know to get started in scuba diving (video)

By aalvarado
Sept. 8, 2012 at 4:08 a.m.
Updated Sept. 10, 2012 at 4:10 a.m.

Josh Irvin, 12, prepares to jump into the pool at the VISD Aquatics Center during a scuba class on Aug. 28. Josh and his uncle, Brad, took the class together and said that learning to scuba dive is something they've always wanted to do.

Beyond the surface of any body of water lies mysteries and things few people get to experience.

Scuba, short for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, diving can help discover a new world, or a new hobby.

"That feeling of weightlessness is probably the coolest part about it," said scuba instructor Paul Brown.

Brown teaches scuba classes at the VISD Aquatics Center. He's been instructing classes for 23 years.

Whether you're a novice or an spiring Jacques Cousteau, here are a few tidbits about scuba.





BRUCE WON'T BITE



Although fear of sharks is a popular misconception, the fact is attacks are rare.

According to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File, there were only 29 shark attacks in the United States in 2011 and 75 worldwide.

Although the number of attacks has increased in recent decades, the study found it's because tourists are venturing into more remote areas and it is not an indication of increased aggressiveness among sharks.

"Everybody's always worried about jumping in the ocean and Jaws coming out to attack you, but that doesn't happen," Brown said.





THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT



Like most activities, the necessary tools are needed to go underwater.

Brown estimates a full scuba set costs around $1,500.

For the course Brown teaches regularly, students are only required to bring a snorkel set.





UNDER THE SEA



Scuba divers have the chance to take in the scenes of marine life from all over the world.

Whether it's coral reefs off the gulf coast or artificial reefs in the Atlantic and Pacific, Brown said it's a sight to behold.

"It's a whole different world under water," Brown said. "It's neat to see."





STAY DRY OR STAY WET



Although the term is used as a genetic phrase for surfing and diving apparel, there is a difference between a wetsuit and a drysuit.

The best option depends on where and during what time of year you choose to dive.

A drysuit is best if you dive in waters below 10 degrees celsius and will keep you warm out of water because they can withstand wind better than a dry suit.





NOT REALLY A WORKOUT



Lower ocean depth brings about a different sensation and water resistance compared to the surface.

"Once you get underwater, it's not that strenuous," Brown said. "You're not swimming hard like you do on the surface."

A person may be sore after an afternoon of swimming at the beach, but that won't be the case during an underwater scuba trip. It takes less effort to move on top of water than underneath it.

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