Several months ago, I decided I wanted to get my open water scuba diving certification. I figured it would be another way for me to enjoy traveling the world. I also started planning a trip to Australia and I wanted to go diving to see the Great Barrier Reef. So a few days before Christmas I went into a local dive shop, asked a bunch of questions, and purchased the course materials.
As I read the information I needed to learn in order to dive, I got a little nervous. What if I accidentally inhale water? What if I lose a contact lens? What if the regulator (the part you breathe from) comes out of my mouth and I don’t have any air left in my lungs to exhale while I try to get the regulator back in my mouth? The number one rule in scuba diving is never hold your breath while you’re under water. You don’t really think about breathing until someone tells you to think about it. Through all these slightly paranoid thoughts, I just kept trying to remind myself of all the people I know who dive and love it. I thought as soon as I got into the pool during class, I’d love it too.
Class was this weekend. The academic portion was in the morning, the pool portion in the afternoon. The academic part was easy, but even the simplest tasks in the pool seemed near impossible. I kept getting water in my mouth while swimming laps with my snorkel. I kept panicking when I went underwater and couldn’t figure out my buoyancy. Clearing your ears (like when you’re on a plane) is important when diving because of the increased pressure when you’re underwater, but I have sinus issues and was unable to clear my ears at just a few feet. I couldn’t imagine what that pressure would feel like on my sinuses at 40 or 50 feet. I was only able to complete a few of the smaller things required to pass the class, and that was just the first day.
On day 2 I got through the academics again just fine. But then I decided not to even get back in the pool. I could feel the pressure in my ears and sinuses, and I couldn’t stop the panic about drowning. I’ve never really had a fear of drowning, I took swim lessons when I was a kid, and spent every day of every summer in NJ at the lake. Needless to say, it’s been a frustrating weekend. Not only was I unsuccessful in completing the course, but I’ve plunked down quite a bit of cash in the process. The instructor was really great and supportive though, and he offered to help me try again.
I think I’ll kick myself if I don’t at least give it another shot. So I might be back in that pool next weekend. To be continued…