Scuba Diving: What Did I Get Myself Into?

Scuba Diving: What Did I Get Myself Into?

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.

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Comments (24)

  1. Melissa- The Mellyboo Project

    The whole breathing underwater thing is a strange feeling. I find a lot of reassurance in hearing the pattern of my breath…

    I hope you do manage to go out into the wild and give it a shot one day – it’s an incredible and beautiful world under the surface!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Very strange! Still couldn’t get used to it Thursday night. 🙁 I’m going to give it a bit of time before I do it out in the wild, maybe one more pool session too. We will see!!

  2. Amanda


    You should have seen me snorkeling! Freaking out!!! I was hyperventilating into my snorkel unless Stu was holding my hand or I was looking at some really cute fishes. Scuba is definitely not for me!

    What were you wearing while shark diving?

    1. The World Wanderer

      Really? Okay, that makes me feel a bit better. Yes, when I would hold Jeff’s hand I felt a lot better. Thinking I may stick to snorkeling, haha. I wore a wetsuit and mask for shark diving, but we were in the cage and you would just hold your breathe and go under water. I’m much better at that! 🙂

  3. Kieu ~ GQ trippin

    You are not alone! Gerard and I had the same experience with our Discovery dive in Indonesia. I panicked more than once.. almost quit at one point. Took me several tries to be calm with the water and to learn how to breathe with the tank. Glad you decided to give it a second shot.. hope all goes well. And remember, it’s ok to quit some times. Biking in Bali wasn’t my thing so I quit halfway through. Lol

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks for the kind words! I just tried it again and it’s still not for me. 🙁 But, we’ll see what happens in a few months, maybe I’ll give it another shot. I’m sure if there was something to distract me – like reefs and fish – I may be able to worry less about breathing and focus on the enjoyment of the activity.

  4. Traveling Ted

    Good thing you have a patient instructor. He sounded like a good one. I hope you get the hang of it. Scuba is something I have yet to try, but I will someday.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, very lucky! Went again Thursday and he wasn’t there and the other instructors were a little less patient. Think it made me hate it more. I’m not going to give up entirely, but I am not sure it’s really for me.

  5. Leah Travels

    You’ve got to push on through that! It will be so worth it in the end. At least you’re getting properly certified. I practiced a little in a Mexican swimming pool then went out the next day 2 hours away from land. I survived and so will you.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I think I’d prefer it your way Leah, I’d have less anxiety if I didn’t know all of the bad things that could happen to me while I do it, haha. Thursday didn’t go so smoothly, so we’ll see what’s in store for me in the scuba world.

  6. Pola (@jettingaround)

    It looks like you have a great instructor! Whatever happens next, at least you can be proud of yourself for trying.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Pola! That’s how I’m looking at it – I gave it a good try – 6 solid hours in the pool. I’m certified to swim in any pool, haha, but I don’t think I’ll be making it out to the open water. 🙂

  7. Fiona

    Congtatulations Erin: You faced up to the challenge and got through it – the next part should be easy now. Looking forward to reading your progress:)

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Fiona! Tried it again and it wasn’t the best experience, again. Haha. But, there’s plenty for me to explore on land at least! 😉

  8. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    I am glad you tried it and accepted that great instructor’s push. But, if in the end you decide it’s not for you – there is nothing wrong with that! There is PLENTY to see in this world as it is and too little time and money to do it!! Kudos for your determination!

  9. Will Peach

    I would share my horrific diving story with you but I don’t want to scupper your efforts. Whatever you decide I’ll love you just as unrequitedly as I do now 😉

    1. The World Wanderer

      Haha, thanks, Will! Yes, definitely keep that little story of yours to yourself! 😉

  10. Rick @ DiveSeven

    Hi – I’m a divemaster (assistant to the instructor) and I’ve seen several people have the experience that you did. The secret, as you’ve seen, is having an instructor that can guide you through those anxious moments. I have seen people go from tears to laughing and excitedly talking about the ‘amazing’ experience they just had in the space of an hour. My advice is to take the time to find the right instructor and have a private session if necessary. Stick with it. It’s worth it. Best of luck to you. Rick.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks so much, Rick! A private session is probably not a bad idea. The guy who worked with me was amazing, but unfortunately he wasn’t there on Thursday, so again, I freaked out. I think it’s all about taking it slow and having someone who will take the time with me. Thanks for the encouraging words! 🙂

  11. John

    Glad to hear you’re giving it another chance. Sounds like you had a good instructor to who was willing to work with you.

  12. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    I love snorkelling but it’s diving I still have a fear about – it’s the same being under water and getting panicky thing that I’m worried about – maybe one day I’ll push myself to try 🙂

  13. Island Hopping with East Island Excursions. | The World Wanderer

    […] well-worth facing my fears, but after putting on my snorkel gear, I was reminded of my attempts at scuba diving. It immediately reminded me that as much as I love the ocean, exploring ocean life is not my […]

  14. Jack@biradivecamp

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I love being in under water too. Diving is one of my passion and with that I will advice that just be in your self if you were diving.

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