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Posted by on July 25, 2005 at 10:29:22:

Scuba school offers classes, gear in Goodyear

Jim Williams
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 23, 2005 12:00 AM

Not long ago, Danielle Labenz would rather get a root canal, with a side of nails scraping a chalkboard, than swim in the ocean. But a scuba diving experience on a recent family cruise became "life-changing," she said.

"Scuba diving opened up a whole new world to me," Labenz said.

The 35-year-old Goodyear woman has been scuba diving only since May, but she has already decided that diving is something she would like to do for the rest of her life. She credits the instruction of Capt. Pete Wastak, co-owner of Inland Water Divers, for helping her overcome her fear of the water.

"He has a love for the ocean, and he shares that with you," she said.

Wastak's Inland Water Divers in Goodyear is the West Valley's only scuba school and retail shop. Wastak opened the business three years ago with partner George Wellenstein and continues to offer instruction and certification classes.

The small shop boasts a full complement of dive gear, including masks, tanks, wetsuits and snorkels. But it's the scuba diving certification and training that draws the most interest, Wastak said.

"We offer everything from beginning scuba up through instructor level," Wastak said. He holds about 10 basic scuba certification classes per year. He uses the Goodyear Pool for the early training, but the open-water certification is usually done in Mexico, Southern California or Lake Pleasant.

Wastak said beginning divers don't necessarily have to be strong swimmers to get their basic certification.

"You do have to have some swimming skills, but it's more about being able to function in the water," he said.

Litchfield Park resident Roy Nichols, 37, is another of Wastak's students, though he's hardly a novice.

"I've been diving about two years," said Nichols, who is seeking to be a master diver.

"I love scuba diving - the adventure of it. It's like being a modern-day explorer."

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