Underwater undead: Zombie-themed scuba diving in Wainwright teaches skills
Divers can complete formal qualification of Zombie Apocalypse Diver
On Saturday, Clear Lake in Wainwright will be invaded by zombies.
The lake, about 235 kilometres southeast from Edmonton, will be the site of a day-long dive training session with a zombie theme organized by Alberta Adventure Divers.
The training is officially certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors — the world's largest scuba diving training system. Those who successfully complete the course will receive a formal qualification of Zombie Apocalypse Diver.
Alberta Adventure Divers started offering the course last year.
"Through COVID, it was a way to keep our active divers diving," said Connie Faas, the dive's leader and a diving instructor since 2004.
The course is not just an opportunity to wear zombie costumes underwater. It also teaches important skills for divers.
The Zombie Apocalypse Diver course allows divers to sharpen their abilities, problem-solving skills that are useful both under the water and above it, and refresh their knowledge of first aid.
Divers get practice their search and recovery skills, and their buoyancy skills. In scuba diving, buoyancy is the ability of the diver to maintain and control their depth.
'They look really spooky'
There are roaming "zombies" underwater, portrayed by Faas and her assistants, who wear zombie costumes over their dry suits.
"I have some of them that really fulfil the role," Faas said.
"They have red and yellow contacts in their eyes. So they look really spooky. They make the hair really look scary underwater."
Kevin Shortt is a divemaster and qualified Zombie Apocalypse Diver who will be assisting in the administration of the course this year.
He said the course is not just a dive training session with some zombie cosplay sprinkled on top, but a great opportunity for a fun family day.
"The first time I heard about it, I didn't believe it was an actual certified course. But it was [a] great opportunity, great family fun for both surface support and divers," he said.
It's a great opportunity for divers to do something different to the usual institutionalized teaching of scuba diving, Shortt said.
It also gives people an opportunity to take a selfie with an underwater zombie and bring home great memories, he said.
There are many things to see on the bottom of Clear Lake, Faas said, including a life-sized underwater ceramic cow, a sea monster that divers affectionately call Ogopogo, and a sunken plane.
The club is very active, despite its location being far removed from major urban centres.
"People don't really think of the prairies when they think of scuba diving. But our club has been very active. It's got hundreds of members," said Roxanne Shortt, Kevin Shortt's wife and who provides surface support for the dives.
The Shortts are based in Lloydminster, and the club has members from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Kevin Shortt decided to take up scuba diving after a fatal drowning incident in Lloydminster. He was one of the rescuers, and they had to wait for hours for divers to come in from out of town. After this incident, he decided that Lloydminster needed a dive team, and in order to have one, he needed to learn to dive.
"So, because of his commitment to life and to people and to emergency services, we took up diving and from there, it's just been just a wonderful experience each and every time," Roxanne Shortt said.