Outside the University of Victoria, two students in full dry suits and air tanks chat about the importance of preserving beach access.
A middle-aged man ambles up to the table where they sit and looks quizzically at the two.
“Those don’t look like security uniforms,” the man says, waiting on an explanation for the out-of-place attire.
“We’re prepared for any situation,” says Colten Platzner, president of the UVic Scuba Dive Club.
Platzner and fellow club member Paul Van Dam Bates are sporting the suits to promote the group’s upcoming fundraiser for The Land Conservancy.
The scuba club is hosting Going Down for Beaches: a shallow dive for a deep cause. The around-the-clock dive relay will support TLC’s Wild Hills and Beaches campaign.
“They have a 24-hour relay for running, and I thought, why not do it for diving?” Platzner says.
He and Van Dam Bates, who take advantage of public beach access across Greater Victoria, want to help TLC reach its goal of protecting 5,800 acres of West Coast wilderness, which includes places such as the Jordan River coastline.
They and other divers from the 80-member club will lead games in the dive tank in UVic’s McKinnon Pool and offer demonstrations over a 24-hour period, starting at 3 p.m. on March 18.
Anyone who would like to pull on some dive gear and try scuba in a safe environment with a certified instructor may do so, in exchange for at $30 donation to TLC.
For those with more experience, the pool will also be the site of an underwater Olympics and poker.
Land activities are planned as well, with plenty of food, trivia and talks on tap throughout the event.
UVic, now home to a TLC Outreach Club, hosted Beers for Beaches at campus pub Felicitas in January. The event, which included musical performances by local bands Maurice and Rocky Mountain Rebel Music, raised $4,000 for Wild Hills and Beaches. The scuba club hopes to match that total.
Platzner, who instructs first-time divers, says for most people, trying scuba is relatively stress-free.
“It’s comforting,” Van Dam Bates adds. “You feel like you’re in your own personal bubble.”
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