So Hill, who’s always loved water and swimming, took scuba diving classes and became certified to handle depths of 40 to 60 feet underwater, she said. Hill’s first dive was in a pool; her first outdoor underwater dive was in a Kankakee quarry, Hill said.
Diving in a pool wasn’t too bad as Hill had good visibility and could see the other divers.
Nevertheless, diving outside can provoke anxiety for new divers, who may then hyperventilate until they learn to control their breathing, Hill said.
“Visibility is next to nothing,” Hill said. “You can’t see any of the other divers and they’re kicking up everything off the bottom. There’s fish swimming around. It was a completely different experience from anything I’ve ever done before.”
Many people, Hill said, have difficulty navigating when they don’t have all their senses.
Other issues with working underwater include the fact that sound waves move differently and images appear magnified, Hill said
As part of her training, Hill can spend an hour or two at a time underwater, she said.
“Your air tanks holds so much pressure and people breathe at different capacities,” Hill said. “You’re constantly checking the psi in your tank. If it gets down to 1,000, you have to surface.”
Hill is referring to the gas pressure in the tanks, which is measured in pounds per square inch (psi).
A career in underwater diving has a lifespan of just 15 to 20 years, Hill said. The pressure of the water on every organ of the body, along with the weight of the tools, vest, canister and other equipment, is hard on older bodies than on younger ones, she said.
But Hill does encourage more young people to go into “the trades.”
“Electricians, plumbers, all the technology people of the world, no one wants to do that anymore,” Hill said. “Everyone wants to do programming things, which is needed to, but a lot more people are retiring than are replacing them.”