“Scuba diving is just a whole new world,” said Aaron Olson, owner of Mick’s Scuba. “You’re with a group of people, and yet you’re not. All you can hear is you — your breathing, your bubbles. You can see walleye and northern in the lake near your house, or vast expanses of yellow-green coral and tropical fish in the Caribbean. But no matter what, you’re amazed every time you go out.”
Aaron’s career in scuba diving has come full circle. He first dove while enrolled at NDSU, and he now teaches courses to the school’s students. An enthusiast after his very first class, Aaron soon explored countless lakes and rivers throughout the area, became open water certified, and earned his instructor’s license. A dyed-in-the-wool diver like Aaron could not have passed on a chance to buy Mick’s Scuba when the shop’s previous owner was ready for a change of scenery.
“We’re a PADI Five Star Dive Center,” said Aaron. “That means we teach everything up to instructor level, so we can train anyone how to dive with confidence. We have a full classroom and utilize swimming pools around the area for practice. Our wide variety of instructors also offer open water classes, advanced classes, rescue classes, and first aid and CPR training.
“Some people come to us because they tried diving at a resort and loved it. Others have never dove before and want another way to enjoy getting out on the water. Either way, most of them will become lifelong divers. Watch someone take their first breath underwater, and when their eyes light up you can tell right away they’ll be diving for good.
“People often ask me if they have to get certified to dive. Diving without knowing what you’re doing gets real dangerous real fast, though. The deeper you go, the more air you use up in your tank — a big problem if you’re not trained properly. You should definitely learn about compressed air before you decide to dive. And if you’re going diving with your buddy, it’s important to know how to help him in case something goes wrong.
“Diving in caves is extra dangerous — that’s not for everybody. You can get into black water where you can’t see, and even if you’re four feet deep you may have to swim a long way to the surface. Your whole life rides on the little line you string out behind you. Cave diving is highly technical and takes a whole lot of training before you can do it well, but the reward is even more new worlds to explore.
“Of course, we’re not going to tell a first-time diver that it’s all doom and gloom! We teach you how to conserve your air, watch your gauges, and keep track of your diving companions so you can all come up safe and sound with plenty of leftover air in your tanks.
“Minnesota and North Dakota have great diving, but we also conduct trips to new and exotic destinations every year. Last winter we went to Cozumel in Mexico, a popular diving spot with giant sea turtles, beautiful fish, and real shipwrecks. The reefs are spectacular, full of colorful fish that seek out cover.”
Mick’s isn’t just where you learn how to scuba dive. It’s also where you get geared up to explore new worlds, with a selection of wetsuits, masks, tanks, regulators, and more. They also offer the technical equipment that search and rescue teams use, such as full face masks that let divers talk back and forth to each other.
Mick’s Scuba is located at 1301 1st Ave N, unit #6 in Moorhead. For more info about the Fargo-Moorhead area’s local dive shop, please visit micksscuba.com.
By David Scheller