This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.

When Terry Nooner teaches beginners to scuba dive, he knows that the hardest part is trusting the equipment, so they can go underwater and breathing normally.

“Your mind is telling you not to do that,” Nooner, owner of St. Croix Scuba and Snorkeling in Hudson, said. “It goes against our instincts to breathe underwater, but once people take that first breath or two, they relax a little and after five minutes, it starts to seem normal. It’s all about developing your confidence.”

Nooner teaches a beginning class called Discover Scuba which gives students some basic background information about how to use the mouthpiece, how to clear water out of the mouthpiece and the mask, and how to use fins to move when they are wearing a heavy air tank.

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“We start here in our shop with one of the instructors,” said Nooner, who has been teaching scuba diving for 28 years. “We go through an introduction to some of the academic things. Then we go from here to the YMCA swimming pool and spend some time in the water.”

A scuba diving class meets in the equipment room at St. Croix Scuba and Snorkeling in Hudson, Wis. Photo by Joshua Huston
A scuba diving class meets in the equipment room at St. Croix Scuba and Snorkeling in Hudson, Wis. Photo by Joshua Huston

Students who enjoy the beginning class can sign up for more advanced lessons which will eventually lead to a PADI certification, a license that is required by the industry to allow scuba divers to rent equipment throughout the world.

The training includes an academic section which is taken on a computer in about eight hours, according to Nooner. Then students spend two days in a swimming pool with an instructor. These sessions are available on weekends throughout the year.

The final part is open water diving with an instructor. Nooner said that can be done near Hudson in the summer months, but he added that many people choose to do what is called “certification by referral.”

Terry Nooner, owner of St. Croix Scuba and Snorkeling in Hudson, Wis., refills air tanks for an advanced class before they go to the Hudson YMCA for training on Sept. 15, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Terry Nooner, owner of St. Croix Scuba and Snorkeling in Hudson, Wis., refills air tanks for an advanced class before they go to the Hudson YMCA for training on Sept. 15, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

“That allows us here in the cold weather to do the academic and pool work,” he said, “and then you go to a place like Grand Cayman for your vacation, and you pay a dive store there to do part three, the open water dives. That’s why lots of people come in in the winter, because they can get their license on their vacation.”

To help those people who want to travel to scuba dive and snorkel, St. Croix Scuba and Snorkeling also serves as a travel agency.

Nooner teaches classes for many groups, schools, and colleges. He also provides support and education for public safety teams of first responders, as well as help for several underwater commercial companies.

He and his staff also do a lot of repair work on scuba diving equipment.

Nooner loves to teach people to go scuba diving: “This just opens up a whole new world for them. There are so many places they can go and so many things they can do with this.”

If you go...

Name: St. Croix Scuba and Snorkeling

Address: 596 Outpost Circle Suite K, Hudson, Wis.

Phone: 715-381-5300

Website: www.saintcroixscuba.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Cost: The program offers a beginning class called Discover Scuba all the way to full PADI certification. Prices vary, so call the store to ask about costs for each class