ATHENS, Texas (KETK) — If you enjoy a little adventure under the sea, including exploring underwater wreckage or taking a relaxing ride on a kayak, you may love taking a dive at Athens Scuba Park.
“A lot of people don’t expect this kind of a place to be in the middle of East Texas. There’s not a lot of places like this,” said one of the owners and instructors, Alex Wilcher.
History of the park
Built in 1986 on the land of a former clay brick factory, the lake holds a lot of history.
“Back about 1950, the plant shut down because they hit a spring, and basically it just became just a pit with water in it, but it was crystal clear,” Alex said.
Founder Calvin Wilcher knew this would be the best spot to start his unique business.
“I was very enthusiastic about diving. Love to dive, I still do, and I’ve been diving for almost 60 years,” said Calvin.
Place for learning and fun
What makes the scuba park so special for learning how to dive is it has its own private classroom, training pool and lake for practicing skills all in one location. The park offers a lot of different courses and diving experiences, including:
- Adventure dives
- Advanced open water dives
- Boat dives
- Open water dives
- Search and recovery dives
- Wreck dives
- Free dives
The list goes on to include online courses, classroom courses and even specialty dives like zombie apocalypse dives and night dives.
37 years after it opened, the business is still family owned and operated.
“We all have different strengths that we bring to the table, and it all just meshes really well together,” said one of the owners and office managers, Ashle Wilcher.
There’s more than 20 acres to explore, above and underwater, with camping, kayaking and, of course, scuba diving.
Diving into the 35-foot deep lake, explorers will find many sunken items like vehicles, jets and boats. A houseboat, DART bus, private jet, golf cart and more are sitting underwater waiting to be explored.
“Our jets, they’re all 60-foot plus. We have a lot of sail boats that are 35 to 45 foot,” Calvin said.
When people are in the process of getting certified, instructors go at the students’ pace. Once they pass the course, they’re certified for life.