As you may remember, a few months ago, I wrote a post about my next adventure – scuba certification. At the time, this was something I had recently added to my bucket list, and an adventure I was willing to take on. I don’t know if I fully thought about what it would entail, but I did know it was something I wanted to try.
And so, after passing my online certification test, Jeff and I headed to the pool for our first session in the water on Tuesday night. As soon as we got there, we changed into our bathing suits, put on our wetsuits, organized our gear, and set up our oxygen and regulators. We lined up everything on the side of the pool and hopped in. While in the pool, we slowly put on our gear and were ready to begin. Everything was going really well, until our instructor told us to put our regulators in our mouths and sit on the bottom of the pool.
I panicked, Sit at the bottom of the pool? I completely freaked out, but I tried. And, as soon as my head hit the water and I saw the other people around me, the panic got worse, unbearable even. I came to the surface, asked the instructor a couple of questions about breathing, and vowed to attempt going under again. This time it was worse. My mind kept racing, I couldn’t figure out my breathing, and all I wanted to do was get out of the pool.
One of the instructors pulled me away from the group and tried to talk me out of my anxious state. At that moment, I no longer wanted anything to do with scuba, I was ready to quit. But, the instructor wasn’t giving up on me.
First, he had me take off my mask at put my face in the water breathing from the regulator. Then, he made me lower it in a bit more, putting my entire head under the water to practice my breathing. Once I got the hang of it, he decided that we would kneel together at the bottom of the pool, me with the regulator in my mouth, but still without my mask. It sounded terrifying, but I trusted him. I knew that if I could successfully breathe under water without looking, I’d have an easier time doing it with my mask on.
Slowly, I entered the water and concentrated on breathing in and out, making sure I fully let out my breaths. For what seemed like years, we stayed there, under the water, in a form of meditation. In and out, in and out, in and out. I grew used to the pattern of my breath and the feeling of doing what felt like an impossibility – breathing under water.
With that, we rose to the surface and began working on skills that the group already worked on together. I filled my mask with water on the surface and practiced clearing it, sucking way too much water up my nose. Again, I wanted to quit, but the instructor refused to allow me to. So, I kept trying and finally, submerged under the water, I successfully cleared my mask. Then we worked on mask removal and replacing it on my face, this was actually an easy task, considering the fact that I had already had plenty of mask-less time under the water.
Once those skills were set, I joined the Jeff and the rest of the group, forever grateful for the one-on-one instruction. This still wasn’t going to be easy, but I had more confidence than I had earlier in the night.
We practiced inflating and deflating our buoyancy compensator, or BC, until we were able to float about the pool with ease and we swam a couple of laps. Then we practiced what we would do if one of us ran out of air. The entire time all I could think was, what did I get myself into? Even with the extra help, I was not in love with scuba, and I couldn’t see how I ever would be.
Once we took off our gear, I immediately felt better, lighter, happier even. We swam around the pool with our snorkels, and even though I didn’t love the idea of swimming with flippers, I was more comfortable with the snorkel than with the oxygen tank strapped to my back.
Most of the night, I was ready to quit, but I decided that since we have another pool session, I would give it a second chance. I don’t like giving up on things, but it’s quite possible scuba just may not be for me, which is frustrating because I really want to love it. I feel that the ability to breathe and swim underwater would give me a whole other view of this amazing world we live in, and that’s what my purpose in getting certified was all about. I don’t know what tonight has in store for me, but I am hoping that this time is a whole lot easier than the other night. We’ll just have to wait and see.