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Published: Thursday, 6/26/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

CLASSES LEARN VITAL SAFETY SKILLS UNDERWATER

Weeklong camp offers survival tips to eager students

BY KATHLEEN ASHCRAFT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Aqua Hut instructor candidate Zech Hites instructs students on Wednesday at the Maritime Academy’s pool at 803 Water St. Aqua Hut instructor candidate Zech Hites instructs students on Wednesday at the Maritime Academy’s pool at 803 Water St.
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Cadets at the Maritime Academy of Toledo are splashing their way to safety this week at the water survival and scuba summer camp.

Cadets learn basic swimming and treading techniques, scuba diving, and rowing at the Maritime Academy pool, 803 Water St.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos.

The public school uses a curriculum focused on nautical and maritime themes, so principal Jodi Johns decided that an emphasis on water safety was necessary.

Sheri Rodgers, an instructor at the academy, said the classes offered at the weeklong camp would have cost each cadet about $400. The program was funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center.

Members of the Coast Guard volunteered to teach the cadets critical water survival skills today. The cadets will tour the Toledo Rowing Club on Friday to test their skills with a boat.

Somewhat surprisingly, not every Maritime Academy cadet is comfortable in the water. Ms. Rodgers said one girl was afraid of the deep end of the pool at the start of the camp. However, after a few training sessions, the young cadet participated in a relay race.

“Because she knew all the new survival stuff, she got across the pool with confidence and with eyes big as saucers saying, ‘‍Look, I did it!’‍ ” Ms. Rodgers said.

Jeff Davis, the owner of Aqua Hut, taught an introduction to scuba class Wednesday. He also will train a lucky group of 10 high school-aged students for full scuba certification.

After initial training Wednesday at the academy’s pool, the scuba students will receive further training in open-water diving at the White Star Quarry in Gibsonburg today and Friday.

“I told the kids that astronauts start training on scuba, so they’‍re like astronauts now,” said Mr. Davis, who led the intro class through regulator clearing, mask clearing, and diving underwater.

Lexi Knapp, a 12th grader in the advanced class, helped younger students in the introductory class like Jullian Ramsey, a fifth grader from Blessed Sacrament.

“It was pretty fun,” Jullian said. “It was cool learning all the scuba stuff, but the pool was pretty cold.”

Ms. Rodgers said training in water survival and scuba will help students find jobs after graduation. “With training we’ve taken them from $40,000 or $60,000 a year to $80,000 or $100,000 a year to do welding or any other job underwater,” she said.

She wants to expand the program.

“The ideal would be to get every student here with equipment in the water,” she said.

With the proper funding, Ms. Rodgers hopes to be able to offer the program once a semester or even once a quarter.

Contact Kathleen Ashcraft at:

kashcraft@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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