October 19, 2022
Learning Under Pressure
Nicholas Tippner ’24 plunged the depths of his interest in scuba diving this past summer with his Martin Nicholson Scholar summer stipend.
“I’ve always wanted to dive,” he said. “I wanted to explore a whole new world because it is a whole new world once you are down there.”
To achieve his certification as an advanced open-water scuba diver, Tippner spent 10 hours of online training. Then he jumped in with three days of diving, consisting of five big dives in the Florida Keys. After learning about the fish his group would encounter and identifying them, the group dove down to explore the reef, paddling into a shark and goliath groupers. With over 100 feet of visibility, Tippner said it was the best diving he had ever experienced. The second dive was underwater navigation, where the divers had to maneuver through a course with a compass and gather markers along the way.
On the second day, to be fully certified, the divers had to train in murky water conditions. The third day required a deep dive of 85 feet.
“It was a new experience once you go that deep,” he said. “You must be careful planning and watch out for nitrogen narcosis. Your brain can get muddled and affects various people differently. Tippner said that planning a deep dive is critical to determine the length of time you will be underwater to measure your oxygen. “Overall, it was an amazing experience, he said. “Everywhere you look is blue, and when you reach the floor, it just explodes. There’s fish and coral everywhere.”
Tippner said he learned to be calm under pressure and to trust his gut and training from the experience. “We humans are not supposed to be breathing underwater,” he said. “There are a lot of things that can go wrong underwater. There are always things you have to take into account: trusting my gut, my buddy, and dive master and keeping track of my own body.”
During another part of his summer, Tippner learned outdoor emergency care training for the ski patrol. “I wanted to do something medical, and I love to ski, so it was a way of putting the two things together,” he said.
After a series of Zoom lessons, the group transitioned to in-person lessons in the field for hands-on learning for medical emergencies and trauma – from scratches and burns to life-threatening spinal and head injuries.
“I learned a lot about being level-headed under intense pressure. I also learned to be quick thinking – both logically and emotionally. You have to do things in a step-by-step way but also be there for the injured person. I’m going to be nervous treating a patient, so can imagine how they feel being in that situation.”