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SARATOGA SPRINGS -- If 60-degree temperatures Thursday weren’t enough to put summer on the mind, a free scuba diving lesson this weekend might do the trick.

The lessons will be offered in a 15,000-gallon heated pool inside Saratoga Springs City Center as part of the annual Summer Expo, which is organized by Adirondack Sports & Fitness. Rich Morin’s Scuba Centers, located in Glens Falls, will offer the lessons to those 10 or older who register by calling the company at 761-0533.

It’s Morin’s first appearance at the event, which also features rock-climbing and vendors of all things outdoors, kayaks to bicycles. Many of those vendors say the unusually warm winter has customers investing in summer sporting equipment earlier than usual.

“We like mild winters,” said Sue Pitts, who owns Elevate Cycles in Saratoga Springs with her husband, Chris.

Chris Pitts said a warm winter usually means an uptick in sales right around the shift from daylight saving time, which occurs early Sunday. But this year, he said, the shopping started earlier.

“We’ve been getting steadily busy for the past month,” he said.

The company has been selling and fixing bicycles at its shop on Van Dam Street for 18 years. A larger store was opened in Clifton Park a few years ago. This weekend will be the retailer’s first visit to the Summer Expo, which is in its seventh year.

“We wanted to do something different and get out more into the community as opposed to just doing ads,” Sue Pitts said. “Do more of a face-to-face, one-on-one with customers.”

Marty Bedell, a divemaster at Rich Morin’s Scuba Centers, said his customers have also begun gearing up for the summer months. The

business keeps itself busy in the winter by training emergency responders in water rescues.

Bedell said the company offers free scuba lessons monthly at various places in the Glens Falls area.

He said last summer was among the most successful in two decades of business, and he thinks the popularity of scuba diving is on the rise because fewer people are seeing it as a “rich man’s sport.”

“It really isn’t any more expensive to go scuba diving than it is to ski,” he said.

Ike Wolgin, owner of Lake George Kayak Company in Bolton Landing, said he’ll be showcasing stand-up paddleboards at the expo. Once a West Coast hobby, he said paddleboard popularity has skyrocketed locally.

He said Lake George Kayak typically opens for regular hours around Memorial Day, as recreation on Lake George revolves largely around school schedules.

But a warm winter doesn’t hurt, he said.

“I think a lot of people shifted gears early this year,” he said. “People don’t have snow in their yards, and they can’t ski, cross-country ski or snowmobile. They start to think about making the shift. A lot of people are starting to think about spring.”


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