MOORSEVILLE, NC (WJZY) - For many scuba divers at Lake Norman, they said they can rarely see everything in front of them.
President of Piedmont Dive & Rescue Association Tim Kilma told FOX 46 Charlotte visibility can be great one moment - and the next change.
"Lake Norman, depending on what part of the lake, you can have 3 to 5-foot visibility, to what we call black out conditions, to where if you put your hard to your mask, you are not even going to see your hand," Kilma said.
Regardless of the conditions all divers start the same, even first responders. They all go through a 24 basic diving skills course. They learn how to handle running out of air, and even taking your mask off underwater.
Their final test is a "Check Out" dive. That’s where they put everything they've learned to the test in open water.
Divers said that the summer months are the worst months to dive at Lake Norman. The reason is because boats and storms churn up the lake bottom creating murky water making it hard for them to see.
Bryan Stafford has seen it all underwater. From finding phones, sunglasses to even a fuel tank of an F-8 fighter jet.
Stafford has worked for law enforcement and done numerous rescue dives. He told FOX 46 Charlotte that a lot of the equipment rescuers use is standard. What's different is their specialized training and masks. They have a two-way radio to be able to communicate with other divers and anyone one the ground.
Stafford said that they also follow a specific rule for safety.
"We do what's called the rule of thirds. So if I start with a tank of 3,000 psi. I may only search until I have 2,000 psi in the tank. Then, I'm going to go ahead and come up. I try to end the dive with a 1,000 psi and that way the rule of third says I got a 1,000 to use 1,000 to get back on and 1,000 for reserve just for safety," he said.
Stafford said continual training is key for any underwater dive.
"I've been in some stressful situations. I've always believed in my training, I've always resorted back to it. Have I ever been spooked underwater? Absolutely," Stafford said.