Pat Neal and UT's SCUBA Clinic

I enjoyed SCUBA diving before my accident and I can still enjoy it. On land I have to rely on a wheelchair or leg braces in order to get around, but I do not have that restriction in the water!

Being trained by Certified SCUBA instructors

Al Kaye, from Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center and SCUBA Instructors from the University of Tennessee organize a SCUBA clinic for physically challenged people. The instructors graciously give of their free time and energy to check us out in the University of Tennessee's pool.

Here the SCUBA instructors are telling students how to use their regulator or "octopus".

The instructors check student's SCUBA gear

Each student's equipment is carefully checked by the instructors.

How to inflate your BCD

They learn how to inflate and deflate their buoyance control device or BCD.

Fitting masks

How do you put this thing on? Hmm. It fits really snug.

Your regulator... Your Air

So, this is where my air comes from...

Shallow underwater orientation

After all is said, a little shallow underwater orientation is in order.

Special adaptations for paraplegia

Each challenged person gets additional instruction based on their individual requirements. Since I have complete paraplegia (no voluntary movement or sensation below the waist) I wear protective diving boots instead of swim fins and I need knee pads. If I use an underwater scooter I can really get around fast!

Heading to the deep end

OK. Some of us are confident enough (and competent enough) to rate a trip to the deep end of the pool. Here you see one of us playing Frogger with the lane swimmers on our way to the deep end of the pool. Duck!

Deep enough for the 10 meter diving platform

Matthew made it to the deep end. It's deep enough for the 10 meter diving board. No, they aren't diving today.

Matthew's self portrait

Here's a self-portrait of Matthew. It's hard to get that camera pointed in the right direction!

An impromptu diving test

One of the instructors is giving his fellow instructor an impromptu test by turning off his air supply. He noticed his air was "gone" and immediately checked his tank air supply, 2000 psi. He then checked his tank air valve and turned it back on. He passed with flying colors.

Upside down neutral buoyancy

Here I'm practicing neutral buoyance upside down.

Ear pressure is equalized

Matthew had a little trouble clearing his ears, but stopped his descent until they were equalized. Everything was OK for further descent.

Looks deep down there!

Hmm. It looks like it's really deep down there!

Me SCUBA?  I'm only six!

"Who, me? Maybe next year."