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I tried it: Writer Kjersten Johnson goes under with Dive Utah’s scuba class

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The Homestead Crater, a geothermal spring in Midway, is 65 feet deep and 60 feet wide.

My breathing sounds like Darth Vader as I descend lower and watch bubbles rise to the surface of the Crater at Homestead Resort in Midway. This Switzerland-inspired town is home to the Crater, which draws tourists from all over the world.

“The minerals are one of a kind,” Crater manager David Howlett says. “There’s no warm water dive like this in the world.”

Over the course of six weeks, I became a PADI-certified scuba diver as part of a BYU class. Every Wednesday I would tote a swimsuit and towel, because when night came it was off to talk about rules and techniques, to take quizzes and to dive. Our classroom (after the quizzes) was the Provo Recreation Center and Pool.

We’d pull up to the rec center and Dive Utah’s bus would be sitting outside. I’d gather my buoyancy control device, fins, mask, weights and regulator, all objects that felt so foreign and awkward to me at the beginning of the course.

In a very fins-on way, I learned about neutral buoyancy, what to do if my mask came off my face or my regulator came out of my mouth and how to communicate under the surface.

Take a dive: Dive Utah teaches to dive, improve diving skills and even travel to a diving location. The company offers introductory classes, beginning open water scuba training, rescue diver training and even helps people interested in becoming an instructor.
    If you’ve got the travel bug, southern California, Mexico, the Bahamas and Fiji are just a few of the places Dive Utah explores with you. And they’ve got you covered on equipment, too, whether you want to rent or buy. Navigate over to diveutah.com for more information.

While we were in the shallow pool practicing, I learned a lot but didn’t feel I was learning to scuba dive.

We went to the deep pool at the rec center, though, and I got a little taste for the versatility and fun of scuba diving. I saw bubbles escaping to the surface from our regulators and was amazed. The light played with them and I could float through, like a kid happily popping soapy bubbles. I was hooked and knew I had to plan a warm adventure.

All of these lessons in the pool culminated in the last two weeks of the course when we went to the Crater in Midway.

It felt wrong to be wearing a swimsuit and flip flops while surrounded by snow, but the Crater is like a tropical oasis. My instructor Dave Mohowski didn’t lie after all. The water is 94 degrees, a natural hot tub and in stark contrast to the weather.

The Crater is 65 feet deep and 60 feet wide. When more than 20 divers were in there, along with swimmers and snorkelers, the space was tight. Fortunately we spread out as we went deeper. As I swam the circumference of the Crater, 40 feet below the surface, and touched the mineral walls, the fun of scuba hit me again. I watched bubbles ascend away from me as I stayed deep.  I knew this wouldn’t be my last time exploring the world below.

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