The pool in McClellan Gym is usually home to students getting in a few laps or the occasional exercise class, but for one night it gave people with disabilities and their families a chance of a lifetime by offering a scuba diving lesson.

The University partnered with Sports, Arts, and Recreation of Chattanooga (SPARC) for the “I Tried Scuba” event. SPARC, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, is a local organization focused on providing recreational sports opportunities for people with disabilities and their families.

“This was our organization’s first time on campus. We were very appreciative to the University for allowing us to use the facilities. It was a positive experience for everyone,” Jerry Hightower, Vice President of SPARC, said.

Dive instructors from the UTC Department of Health and Human Performance gave the participants a lesson on scuba diving before they eased into the pool. Two assistant dive instructors were assigned to each participant got to swim around the pool.

“We haven’t tried scuba diving in the community before. We’ve held events for adaptive kayaking, snow skiing, and rock climbing, but water can be relaxing and freeing. It allows some people with disabilities to move around easier because gravity isn’t working against them,” Hightower said.

“Everyone absolutely loved it. All the participants had a great time. So much so that we plan on doing it again in the future,” he continued.

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