WIU Scuba Professor, Expedition Seeker, Ready to Teach The Next Generation of Divers

WIU Scuba Professor, Expedition Seeker, Ready to Teach The Next Generation of Divers

WIU Scuba Professor, Expedition Seeker, Ready to Teach The Next Generation of Divers

February 20, 2023

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MACOMB, IL – – Western Illinois University stands out for having one of the few academic diving programs in the nation offering a minor in scuba diving. The program currently has 30 students from across the world.

“Only a handful of universities have an academic scuba diving program,” said WIU Kinesiology Professor Christopher Kovacs. “Due to the number of hours required to be certified, the inherent hours our students spend diving and the breadth and depth of our program, we turn out impressive and well-trained students ready to enter the field.”

The scuba minor was created in 2008 by former Scuba Program Director Dan Walter to allow interested WIU students from many different majors across campus to gain specific knowledge in how to utilize scuba within their future careers. To complete the program, students must complete 8-10 credit hours consisting of courses based on Kinesiology and 6-10 credit hours of electives.

Additionally, students must be able to swim 250 yards continuously tread water for 10 minutes and swim underwater at least 50 feet. Training often takes place in local lakes and WIU campus pools.

Kovacs has been a certified diver since 2009 and a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at WIU since 2005. As a researcher, certified scuba instructor and technical diver, and traveler, he believes strongly in the importance of what makes this program unique from others like it.

A former student from the program, Jackie Folk remarked, “scuba classes were the only classes I took with immediate tangible real-world consequences and therefore helped me develop confidence, persistence, self-reliance and the ability to work under stress, among many other skills. My time in the WIU scuba program has made me a stronger, more skilled candidate in my career and has provided a hobby in my personal life.”

Kovacs’ research focuses heavily on factors related to safety issues in diving and his passion for cold-water diving, which makes him eager to travel often and take on scuba expeditions around the world.

“In March 2021, I was invited by Northern Explorers in Norway to attend an organized expedition to Sermilik Fjord in Greenland,” said Kovacs. “The dive team consisted of 10 divers from multiple countries, including Germany, Austria and Malaysia, accompanied by two Northern Explorer team members. The experience of living in such a remote place, diving under icebergs and working as a team with such a diverse group of divers was truly transformative. Students in our diving program must learn many of these lessons quickly to become a part of a team and rely on each other to truly become safe and competent scuba divers.

It can be dangerous to go too deep, and divers are often encouraged to stay within a range considered shallow, 60 feet,” said Kovacs. “Along with diving skills, students will learn about evaluating the environment they are diving in, and this will help them remain safe when embarking on trips or dive expeditions.”

For more information on Western’s scuba diving minor, visit wiu.edu/coehs/kinesiology/scuba.

Posted By: Lexi Yoggerst ([email protected])
Office of University Communications & Marketing