Senior scuba diver swims toward success


Photo courtesy of Dante Campero-Campion

EXPLORING THE OCEAN: Senior Dante Campero-Campion scuba dives in Honduras. Campion has been on 32 dives total.

Zachary Scariano, Staff Writer

Breathing is shallow and light levels are low, 100 feet of water pressure transforms senior Dante Campero-Campion’s perception of the aquatic world. Entering the sunken hull of the USS Spiegel Grove he discovers that scuba is his passion.

Campion has spent years training and honing his skills in order to dive into more advanced areas and reefs.

”I got my junior open water certification when I was 13,” Campion said. “From there I went on to get more advanced certification. There are definitely skills you need to learn along the way that are needed for advanced dives.” 

Although a popular and advanced activity, scuba diving can be filled with dangers that range from technical to natural.

“There are lots of hazards when underwater, for example, if you ascend too fast, you can get air bubbles in your bloodstream,” Campion said. “There’s a lot of dangers, so you have to be really careful.” 

Campion elaborates on the procedures required to go out on the water 

“It’s really technical,” Campion said. “You need to make sure you’re not rushing yourself because that is what leads people to mess up and make mistakes leading to danger. Before we dive we do this procedure where we have hand signals, one means you’re going down and there’s another hand signal to check for your air and make sure your regulators are on and air is actually flowing. After that we check to see if there’s any boats around.”

Having 32 different dives under his belt, he has gone from the basics of Lake Travis, all the way to Honduras. Each dive has a different underwater landscape that Campion has learned to adapt to.

“I have done the majority of my dives in Honduras, where I went on 18 of my 32 total,” Campion said. “Out of all of those the one that stood out the most was by far the USS Spiegel Grove.” 

The USS Spiegel Grove is a sunken United States Navy landing ship. It went down in 2002 to be used as an artificial reef and diving attraction.
“I had no idea how big it was going to be and that was my first shipwreck ever so I was not expecting the size of it,” Campion said. “When we first went in it was murky so we couldn’t see it. But as we were descending, it finally came into view and it caught me off guard because it was so big. The entire ocean floor is just this huge boat, and we went all the way around. So that definitely changed everything.” 

Campion’s godfather Thomas Koch is a dive instructor and had a heavy influence on his diving experiences. Koch owns a dive company in Florida called Aqua Hands. Koch reflects on his dives with Campion.

 “He would be an awesome professional diver and everyone would love to dive with him,” Koch said. “He is so natural and when we dove together, he was one less diver I had to worry about.”

Koch is one of the only deaf dive instructors in the world and uses sign language to communicate underwater with Campion. This has proven to be an effective method of communication underwater between Campion and Koch given that the breathing apparatus prevents talking.

 “He’s already gone way above my expectations,” Koch said. “He’s an excellent diver and what made it so easy is that Dante knew how to sign so I pretty much taught him underwater and used sign language to teach him how to become a diver.”

The two have gone on multiple dives together all over the world. 

He doesn’t show any high stress underwater at all, he shows beyond the confidence of any diver I have ever seen,” Koch said. “I can say to his advantage that he could communicate with me underwater if there were a situation that he might be concerned about because we have 100% accessible communication underwater.” 

Scuba diving has had a lasting effect on Campion’s relationships with friends and family. 

“It definitely means he’s gone a lot more during the summer,” senior Brayden Taylor said. “He goes on a lot of vacations and we sometimes go out together. He’s been on my boat before and I recall from my birthday party that he was a very strong swimmer.”

Not only did it affect them physically but It has also changed the way they see the world. Taylor recalls the way scuba has affected his perspective and his ability to act professionally.

“He’s talked about it a few times and he says it is a very serious situation,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot of things you must keep in mind. It has probably made him better in a lot of situations.”

Campion has been affected in many ways from physical to psychological during his dives.

“I feel so much tranquility,” Campion said. “It’s definitely a different world and you take it in and really embrace it and just feel at peace as you get deeper.”