© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

OSU Lecturer Shares Passion For Diving With Scuba Students

His official job title is lecturer, but Marty Bailey is much more than that. This hands-on Ohio State University instructor teaches Scuba diving; and he teaches it with passion. It’s a Monday evening at Ohio State’s aquatics center. Bailey’s students line up in their Scuba gear along the side of the pool waiting to enter the water. They listen as Bailey outlines the dive plan. “We’re going to start off with our giant stride,â€? Bailey says. “Descend and equalize; we’ll do our fin pivot for five minutes.â€? Pretty easy so far but Bailey is about to make things more complicated. In one drill, the students will remove their masks, swim the length of the pool below the surface, put on another mask and clear it of water. Another drill simulates an out-of-air emergency. These drills are repeated week after week. They prepare the new divers for potential underwater emergencies. “Generally it’s not one problem that causes the demise of a diver,â€? Bailey says. “Usually you can handle one. It’s when you have a second one and that compounds to being a third one, that’s generally when you wind up with fatalities. And that’s the whole point of the training is to learn how to handle problems.â€? Even though he’s been diving for 32 years Bailey practices his skills regularly. One of his favorite dive locations is a flooded quarry near Lancaster called Lakeview. He dives it year ‘round no matter what the water temperature. Bailey has a remarkable 4,000 dives to his credit. He’s happiest, says a dive buddy, when he’s in the water. “I go diving because I enjoy diving,â€? Bailey says. “And the same thing when I’m teaching; I figure if I’m not enjoying this dive there’s no way my students are enjoying this dive.â€? More often than not, Bailey dives in quarries. But he’s also made some incredible forays. He’s been inside the wreck of the Andrea Doria which is called the Mount Everest of Diving. He helped excavate portions of the U-85, a German submarine sunk during World War II. He’s also an accomplished cave diver. And he’s dived in various parts of the world including New Zeeland, Bermuda, and Iceland. This summer he’s headed to Turkey. Bailey is aware of diving’s inherent risks. “I’ve gone beyond my fingers and toes of people that I know who have died,â€? Bailey says. A friend of Bailey’s died while on medication diving the Andrea Doria. “The two medications combined together with the pressure of the depth he was at increased the sedative effect and basically he fell asleep during his dive and drowned,â€? Bailey says. “It was a sad day when that happened.â€? Bailey has had his own close calls. Once he was diving a cave and became stuck in an opening. “My buckle opened up on my weight belt and got wedged between two rocks and the yoke on my regulator – as I was struggling to get free I popped that into an area of the roof so I ... because I didn’t know where I was stuck I didn’t know what I needed to do. And all you can do then is wait and trust your buddies,â€? Bailey says. That’s the benefit of having a dive buddy. The risks, though, don’t discourage him. “I don’t really think about the risk,â€? Bailey says. “I guess I think about the reward. The reward for me is just being in the water and diving.â€? Bailey’s enthusiasm for the sport is contagious. “It’s awesome,â€? says Nick Martin, one of Bailey’s students. “I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s a good experience, for sure.â€? Martin adds, “He’s a great teacher. He definitely knows what he’s doing and he definitely keeps it fun.â€? A former student of Bailey’s, David Fleming, who’s now one of his diving partners, puts it this way. “Marty is world-class,â€? Fleming says. “If you’re lucky enough to have Marty teach you Scuba diving, by the time you’re done, you will understand what it takes to be a Scuba diver and you will have the skill set to actually do it safely.â€? “Yes, I get paid to dive, and that means it’s work, but it never feels like work,â€? Bailey says. “And when I dive, when anybody dives, you should be diving because you enjoy what you’re doing.â€?