"Scuba" is an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. When you dive, you carry a tank of pressurized air on your back as you swim under water.
You also wear a special insulated wet suit, a mask, snorkel, fins with boots, gloves, a buoyancy control device and a weight belt. Much of that equipment is provided by the Scuba facility, although it might be worth the investment to buy some of the equipment yourself if you plan make diving a hobby.
Before you can go for a scuba dive, you must take a class and become certified. This ensures that you have knowledge and practice with the equipment, understand safety concerns and have mastered the techniques of scuba diving. Check out these profiles of scuba instructors.
During your training, you will learn the basics of the equipment and take several practice dives, usually in a pool, before going into open water (either the ocean or fresh-water lakes and rivers) with your instructors.
Before taking scuba classes, know that youshould be a "reasonably proficient" swimmer (you can find swimming instruction on kudzu.com should you need to brush up on your swimming skills). You should feasibly be able to swim about 200 yards as well as float and tread water. You'll also want to berelatively fit, as diving requires you to be active and agile in the water.
There are several agencies and organizations that certify scuba divers. While they may have different philosophies and ways of training, each must meet the same minimum standards set by the government and the industry for entry-level scuba instruction.
To find the program that's right for you, be sure to compare the costs, instructors, times and locations, and other factors of all courses, make some calls, and, when you're ready, enjoy the open sea and all its wonders.