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Scuba Rangers dreaming of wet Christmas

What is it like to visit Santa under 14 feet of water?

Ask Killian Poore and you’ll get a one-word answer.

“Hilarious.”

But Killian, of course, couldn’t laugh while donning a complete scuba outfit.

Now certified to scuba dive with adults, Killian is a member of the Federal Way Scuba Rangers club organized and led by employees of ScubaSET in Federal Way.

After youngsters complete five classes for the certification, the Rangers club meets on Sunday afternoons for a variety of activities. Last month, that included a behind-the-scenes look at the Seattle Aquarium.

This week, the club event was posing underwater for Christmas pictures with Santa. Unlike at so many malls, however, the Rangers —aged 8 to 12 — did not relay their wish lists to Jolly Old St. Nick.

“All they got to hear him say was, “Ho, ho, ho,” through his regulator,” said Diana Brooks, ScubaSET’s operations manager and Rangers club organizer.

Brooks said the youngsters have been jumping into the underwater world with great enthusiasm.

“Allowing children to dive is very, very new. You used to have to be at least 12 to be certified,” Brooks said. “When we started it we had no idea how popular it would become.

“We’re always overwhelmed about how excited they are about the programs. We have some kids now that are better divers than a lot of adults that I’ve seen,” she said.

Killian’s mother, Diana Stone-Poore of Federal Way, credited the engaging lessons and easily understood terms that make learning fun for the young divers.

“They stress safety,” Stone-Poore said. “Kids need to sit and listen, obviously, because they’re dealing with a lot of equipment.”

Stone-Poore said she’s been most impressed with the way scuba has interested Killian. Last year, he didn’t swim and seemed uninterested in lessons. That changed when he found scuba —and after his mother overcame some fears.

“We looked at the bottom of that 14-foot pool and I said, ‘Man, I don’t know about this,’ ” Stone-Poore said.

For his part, Killian says scuba is “fun and very exciting.

“Usually you can’t do it till you’re old enough,” he said.

And the admiration from his school friends doesn’t hurt either.

“They think it’s neat,” he said.

Not satisfied with a 14-foot pool, Killian said he wants to continue scuba diving and someday travel to warm waters.

“I’ll probably see a lot of neat fish and stuff like that,” he said.

ScubaSET, which opened in March, teaches the Scuba Rangers courses quarterly. Club members, get to try out new activities such as night diving and navigation diving in dark conditions and diving in rough water.

“We’re pretty imaginative in planning realistic situations in the pool,” Brooks said.

Debby Bailey is another parent — and diver — who is sold on the Scuba Rangers program.

She introduced her 9-year-old daughter, Lacey, — already a strong swimmer — to scuba through the classes.

“She’s used to the water but not all the fun stuff that goes with it,” Bailey said. “It gives her another aspect of swimming that she can enjoy and participate in.”

Bailey, too, liked the Scuba Rangers’ imaginative lessons.

“It allows the kids to go at their own pace. They tailor it to the kids,” she said.

“They’re pretty creative over there, and I guess they need to be to keep the kids interested.”

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