Unicorns of Diving seeks to diversify interest in underwater adventures
PARRISH, Florida. – Justin Lovett and his students jump into a pool in their scuba gear as they prepare for a deeper dive.
“In our advanced classes we really focus on buoyancy, trim and making sure that when you enter the water you are protecting everything around you,” Lovett explained.
A few years ago, he created the Unicorns of Diving.
“Because the unicorn is unique. It’s something you don’t see every day and as an African American diver it’s something you just don’t see every day when you go on a trip. a lot of times when you get on a dive boat I realized that I was the only person on that boat who looked like me It goes back to the stereotypes that black people can’t swim and some of them perpetuated for generations and generations and unfortunately it’s true. Many African Americans can’t swim. We don’t learn to swim in inner cities where pools may not be available,” Lovett said.
“It was so exciting to find the Diving Unicorns, a group of like-minded people. Diving together has been a wonderful experience. Lots of women are joining us. They are learning to dive and it’s very exciting to see , you know women are in,” said student Ruth Beltran.
The first step in Lovett’s training is to put an end to his fears.
“One is the sharks. A lot of students when it comes to scuba diving they automatically think ‘Jaws’ and you know I just have to constantly tell them we’re not on the shark menu, you know, we blow bubbles and shark food doesn’t blow bubbles and that really gives us an edge,” he said.
Another fear is being claustrophobic. Many people feel that when they are in the water, the water is closing in on them.
“My motto when teaching scuba diving is relax. It’s only water,” Lovett said.
“It’s also a stress reliever. I think it’s something we all need to find an outlet for. So this sport offers that in addition to the camaraderie we’ve found and the community with other people,” Beltran said.
Last year the Unicorns of Diving joined the National Association of Black Scuba Divers.
“We actually won Dive Club of the Year through our scholarship distribution and mentoring efforts,” Lovett said.
For him, it is a pleasure to guide someone new in this diving adventure.
“It’s amazing the feeling I get when I watch someone breathe underwater for the first time. It’s something they’ve never done and their eyes open underwater You can see it through their mask and they’re so excited about what they’re doing and now in this moment I’m getting them to calm down because they’re so excited about what they are able to do,” Lovett said.
Lovett said they can take scuba diving students as young as 10, but also provide swimming and snorkeling lessons for all ages.
For more information on Unicorns of Diving you can email Justin Lovett at [email protected]
The Diving Unicorns also have a Facebook group.