Discovering Scuba: St. Andrew students try life aquatic
By ALANA LISTOE - IR Staff Writer - 03/15/06

George Lane IR Staff Photographer - Scuba instructor Dean Randash helps Clare Smillie adjust her mask, before diving to the bottom of the Carroll College pool.

High school students from St. Andrew School spent two mornings this week discovering scuba at the Carroll College pool.

Scuba instructor Dean Randash spent a portion of the two-hour period going over what the hand signals are and what they mean. Being able to communicate under water is an important concept for any scuba diver, and Dean showed the students the signals for stop, up, down, OK and hang-out.

“In the underwater world you can’t voice communicate, so you need to relate to sign language,” Dean said. “These signs allow divers to communicate and are essential because if issues arise they need to be able to communicate. As an instructor we are in tune real close to the temperament of the students under water.”

St. Andrew student Anne Villarin had never scuba dived until this week. She is on the Helena Lions Swim Team and said it was really fun to be able to breathe underwater.

This is also the first time sophomore Mary Holbrook has experienced scuba diving.

“I’ve never had a fear of water, but I’ve never been a fan of holding my breath for a long time,” she said.

Holbrook said the hands-on learning lesson would have been nicer to be somewhere exotic, but still described the experience as “amazing.”

“Every movement a scuba diver makes uses up air,” Arlette Randash, a scuba diver and St. Andrew teacher, told the students.

She advised them to put their arms at their sides and be “fish-like,” she added.

The Randashes have been scuba diving for about five years, and Dean has taught for the past three. The couple returned earlier this week from the Sea of Cortes, where they did a hammerhead shark dive. Arlette said she was able to touch some manta rays, too.

Dean says he enjoys teaching scuba diving and describes it as a “lifetime sport.”

A “discover scuba” lesson, allows individuals to see what its like to breathe underwater and then decide whether it is something they’d like to pursue.

Dean says many people have the misconception that the underwater world is dark and dreary with nothing to see.

“It is actually quite the opposite, especially in warm climates,” he said. “You can see more marine life in a 45 minutes scuba dive than you would in days going through the forests. Even in the cold waters like the Puget Sound there is tremendous marine life.”