OSCEOLA COUNTY — Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers donned wetsuits, fins, masks and snorkels for an afternoon swim in Rose Lake last this week.

However, the dip in the lake was not one for leisure, but the first training session for the recently expanded Osceola County Dive Team.

While the county has always had a dive team — which is mandated for all county sheriff’s departments in the Michigan Constitution — the number of members on Osceola County’s Dive Team was dwindling and they often relied on outside support, Osceola County Undersheriff Justin Halladay said.

“We’re part of the Northern Michigan Mutual Aid team, which allows us to call on divers from 14 other agencies in Northern Michigan if something happened, but we didn’t want to be totally dependent on other counties,” Halladay said. “This expansion ensures we will be able to run things ourselves.”

The previously two-member team now has six certified divers from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, along with new and updated equipment after trading in old items and using funds from the sale of a patrol car.

Morris Langworthy Jr., of Divers Central in Cadillac, trained and certified the team members, and continues to be involved with helping them maintain their skills.

At the Rose Lake training session, the team worked on underwater navigation skills.

“The goal is to build an efficient, as well as effective, team that is ready to respond,” Langworthy said.

Sgt. Mark Moore is the leader of the dive team and was responsible for assembling volunteers within the department.

With the number of lakes in Osceola County, Moore sees the expansion of the dive team as a great asset.

“We have had several incidents where a dive team has been needed, and although we had one, we still were calling in other counties for assistance,” Moore said. “We still can always still use outside help, but it’s nice to have a core group here so we can have a quicker response time.”

Throughout the year, Halladay said the dive team will continue training in different seasons, which will include attempting an ice dive. They also will dive the various waterways throughout the county.

“All the lakes have different visibility levels and geography,” he said. “It’s good to get experience for the multiple lakes and rivers we have in the area.”

As the team keeps learning and training, Langworthy wants each member to be skilled enough to lead the team.

While the group is still just getting their feet wet, Moore said the team members are eager to increase their knowledge and capabilities.

“We have a long way to go, but we’re getting there,” he smiled.