Reflections On Diving In 2020

Jerry Otte   Dec 29, 2020

One year ago, Aquatic Adventures was preparing for its 20-year anniversary. Everyone was excited about reaching such an important milestone in our history. Our employees were working hard on planning a celebration, and invitations were going out to our clients and business partners. Plans were also underway for our company picnic and an aggressive training schedule designed to draw in more divers during a year we expected to be a year of celebrations.

Unfortunately, 2020 did not turn out as we expected as the pandemic laid waste to our best-made plans. By February we were getting reports from Europe regarding a deadly virus that damaged the lungs and could end someone’s ability to dive safely. Two months later our business was shut down to all but our government accounts.

None of us will ever forget 2020 for the unprecedented impact it had on the dive industry and our business. As we navigated through shutdowns, quarantines, restrictions, and self-imposed safety measures, Aquatic Adventures saw changes that could never have been anticipated when we entered 2020. Our staff had to be cut in half. Our revenues dropped by more than 30%. Our annual picnic was canceled for the first time in 20 years. Our pools were closed. Our travel program was put on hold. Our classes had to be rescheduled.

Yet when faced with these extraordinary challenges, our staff and our customers came together to reimagine diving. Starting in April, our divemasters and instructors began meeting to plan our reopening, working with PADI and the Diver’s Alert Network to put in place safety measures that would allow us to protect our customers above water as well as underwater. We reimagined dive training by moving classroom sessions online and creating new virtual classes that have drawn in divers from hundreds of miles away. Lake Michigan charters became more frequent as we limited the number of divers on the boat, and local diving became more popular as our customers looked for safer options to traveling.

In the end, we as a dive community snatched victory from the arms of defeat. Not one student in our classes or one diver on our charters ended up contracting the virus from going diving with us. Not one member of our staff became sick because of interacting with our classes at the beach or on a boat or working in the store. Aquatic Adventures ended up providing more personalized service and more unique local dive experiences in 2020 than in any other year, doing all of this while putting safety first and protecting our customers and our staff.

I know that for many of you 2020 has been a difficult year too. To those of you who lost loved ones or became so sick that you may not dive again, we grieve with you. To those of you who have fought on the frontlines in our hospitals and on our streets, risking your health and the health of your families, we salute your heroism. To all of you who have stood by the Aquatic Adventures family by making purchases, taking classes, joining us on dive charters, and continuing to support the local dive community, we thank you. We could not have made it through 2020 without all of you.

As we stand at the edge of 2021, it is hard not to see some dark days ahead. However, the promise of better days is on the horizon. With that hope in our hearts, the staff at Aquatic Adventures looks forward to serving each of you in 2021 and wishes you and your family peace, prosperity, and good health in the coming year.

Happy diving in 2021.

Jerry Otte
Executive Director – Aquatic Adventures, Inc.