Despite a close encounters with a hammerhead shark, Learn Scuba Chicago's Captain Bob just keeps on scuba diving. The aquatic expert got an up-close peep of shark teeth on his very first Caribbean dive, yet has scarcely taken his flippers off since. When he isn't maintaining underwater habitats at the Shedd Aquarium, Captain Bob leads diving courses, which range from thrilling dips for beginners to rescue-diver certifications. Students plunge into indoor pools at Water's Edge Aquatic Center in Bensenville and the UIC campus. Depending on the course, Learn Scuba Chicago lends or sells student equipment such as masks, fins, snorkels, and gills.
By the clear waters of a competition-size pool, Chicago Scuba School & Dive Shop's students are guided through the fundamentals of submarine exploration. In groups of 10, fledgling divers bedeck themselves in the masks, oxygen tanks, and cardboard shark fins required to spend extended periods below the depths. Three instructors then usher students into the pool, teaching them how to properly wield the Aquamanesque powers of their scuba gear as they train in the course of four hours. The expansive pool provides plenty of space for divers to flex their flippers, and small class sizes ensure that students’ flawless underwater backflips receive extra attention. If they wish to further their aquatic expertise, Groupon-holders can opt to take a full scuba-certification course at a $100 discount.
A scuba resource for more than 35 years, Scuba Emporium gives customers the opportunity to learn to dive in a safe environment and under the wetsuited wing of a PADI-certified instructor. A two-hour course in a pool (or pool-like conditions) gives clients a firm introductory handshake with the world of underwater breathing while also providing a unique weightless feeling similar to ballooning on an empty stomach or playing double-dutch on the moon. Participating in the intro scuba class does not automatically certify students to take to the ocean, but if instructor and pupil opt to practice the basic skills used in the PADI Open Water Diver course, that training can potentially be credited toward future certification.
Behind Underwater Safaris' unassuming storefront lies an ocean. Light shines down on the water's choppy surface, and a pod of dolphins leap out of the water. But, like a tank of helium you forgot to bolt to the floor, they never come back down. The dolphin mural is painted, but the water is quite real: it's part of a PADI five-star facility where students prepare to explore waters across the world.
The journey to coral reefs and shipwrecks begins with the guidance of an experienced team of fifteen instructors. The center, which has been open since 1985, has taught thousands of snorkelers and divers from Open Water through to instruction. After introductory Discover Scuba sessions, the staff branches off into more specialized areas, such as diving at night, exploring underwater wrecks, or scuba diving as a career.
Underwater Safaris also hosts annual trips to scuba destinations around the world. Guided and independent adventurers alike are welcome to stock up on gear from brands such as Aeris and Aqualung in the dive shop.
Growing up in deserts of Saudi Arabia, Rami learned what it meant to be endlessly surrounded by a single element in every direction. He just found he preferred water to earth, taking up Scuba diving in 1994, and, after a brief midlife hiatus, making it his career. Now, as the owner and head-instructor of Scuba Sensations, he shares the passion that drove him over land and under sea halfway around the globe. He certifies new divers to go find their own adventures underwater, or helps advanced students hone their skills to take on new submersible challenges.
For nearly half a century, the Illinois Institute of Diving’s certified instructors have led courses geared to swimmers of all levels at its full-service diving center. Swimmers can get a feel for flippers, masks, and bendy breathing straws during Saturday morning Discover Scuba courses, beginning with a classroom session to outline the basics, followed by a swim in the pool with an instructor. Alternatively, students can work toward certification through the open-water and pool-training course. In addition to providing mechanical gills and other necessary scuba gear, the school also gives students a kit that includes a logbook, handbook, and other necessary tools to successfully complete the classroom portion of the course.