Diving into a new hobby

Christina Liu , Staff Writer

Jumping into the ocean, the first thing Diamond Bar High School sophomore Tony Xu sees is the bright rainbow colors of underwater coral. When he is surrounded by miles of water on either side, scuba diver Xu enjoys the silence the ocean brings.

“It’s a very calm experience, because when you are in the water, you can’t hear people talking—you can’t really hear anything,” Xu said. “It’s just a

really calm experience for me.”

Xu’s first time diving was on a school excursion to Catalina Island in seventh grade during his time at Chaparral Middle School.

“That’s the first time I saw so much stuff in the ocean and the feeling was so amazing. You can kind of enjoy yourself; no one else is there, you can do whatever you want,” Xu said.

A year later, when he visited Hawaii during his eighth grade summer, Xu was introduced to a family friend who gave him a more in depth scuba diving experience. After more experience with the sport, Xu now describes his first time at Catalina as a poor portrayal of real scuba diving since there is not a lot of marine life to observe around the islands. With a deeper appreciation for scuba diving, Xu attempts to dive at least once a month.

Currently, Xu frequents the port of San Diego to dive, as it is one of the more interesting spots with diverse wildlife. Although there are closer scuba diving areas—such as Santa Monica—Xu said it is difficult to find the same variety as the South Pacific waters. Xu said that the Tahiti island in French Polynesia was the most memorable spot for him because of the water’s clarity.

“It’s really clean, and with scuba diving, it feels like you’re in the air. I never scuba dived in any water that clear—you can see everything underwater,” Xu said.

Although Xu describes scuba diving as a safe and relaxing activity, Xu said that there are safety procedures he had to learn prior to diving, such as different hand gestures to communicate with other divers. Xu was also taught the importance of remaining calm in all situations in case of an emergency.

“If the gas tank has issues, you can’t be freaking out, because once you are freaking out, you are starting to use more oxygen.” Xu said. “Honestly, nothing has happened to me, but you have to be prepared for everything that might happen.”

Having scuba dived in both the Pacific and Indian Ocean, Xu hopes to try out diving in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea in the future. However, due to the stronger sea currents experienced in the Atlantic, Xu doesn’t plan on diving there until after he is 18 years old or is more experienced with the sport.

“I will continue to do scuba diving as a stress release because it’s very close to college applications, so there’s a lot of stress, SAT, college apps,” Xu said. “That’s just to calm myself down and be like ‘Oh it’s OK.’”