GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – For scuba divers at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, most dives are spent exploring the tranquil underwater world or partaking in activities like underwater fishing, wreck diving, deep diving or night diving.
However, for one day out of the year, scuba diving becomes a competitive sport in the annual Reef Raiders Scuba Olympics.
"The event is pure underwater fun with some out of the ordinary experiences," said Bill Keenan, member of Reef Raiders.
The Scuba Olympics, held Feb. 15, has been an annual event since 2001 when a group of Reef Raiders members, Keenan included, were brainstorming a unique underwater event.
The event was held Sunday morning at Phillips Dive Park where 32 participants, in teams of two, competed in seven underwater events. The events included the coin drop, ring toss, "toypedo" toss, hoop relay, melon relay, 3-legged relay and musical chairs.
"Events fluctuate from year to year, and we always try to bring at least one new event to the competition," Keenan said. "This year was the three-legged relay. While we had seven events this year, we have about 20 events in the game bag for future Olympics."
In each event, participants were competing against everyone to swim the fastest, throw the farthest, get the most rings or coins on the poles, or win in musical chairs. The melon relay, the three-legged relay and musical chairs were all team events while the coin drop, the ring toss, the "toypedo" toss and hoop relay were individual events.
Whoever did the best in each event was given a blue poker chip that represented three points. The second best received a red chip representing two points, and all other participants received a white chip representing one point.
Phillips Dive Park has been the location of the Scuba Olympics since it first started. It has been determined as one of the safest dive sites on base where the flat, sandy bottom makes setting up easy and preserves the integrity of the surrounding sea life.
"While the name Reef Raiders implies a negative connotation towards the underwater environment, the club membership is committed to preserving the ecosystem while promoting fun diving," Keenan said.
After the competition ended, the acquired chips were counted to see who had done the best overall. The first place finisher received a dive computer, the second-place finisher received a dive bag, and the third-place finisher received scuba hangers and an underwater flashlight.
The results showed a first place tie, 38 points, between Brian Rogers and Miguel Estrella. Colin Kerrigan placed third receiving 36 points overall. To break the tie, Rogers and Estrella competed in a paper-rock-scissors competition where Roger won. However, he wanted the dive bag so Estrella was awarded the dive computer instead.
"I was shocked that I actually won a dive computer by playing a game of paper-rock-scissors," Estrella said. "The fact that I was diving with a computer that doesn't work made it more rewarding since I was planning to buy one soon."
All in all, this year's Scuba Olympics was a great success with great anticipation for next year. Reef Raiders will be promoting a fun dive to Leeward for folks not familiar with the area next month.
"It's better known as an orientation dive for divers not experienced in [safe entry and exit techniques], the type of entries and exits, or the area," Keenan said.
To become a member or obtain information on future events, stop by the Reef Raiders club or online at reefraidersgtmo.org. They are open Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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This work, Some Fun, Underwater Competition, by SSG Megan Leuck, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.