It was my first time scuba diving and it was more than I bargained for.< p/>
As an amateur-professional researcher, I did a ton of digging around about scuba diving including the best facilities to learn from, the best equipment (within my budget) for a first-timer and the best times of year to learn.
But I didn’t have the opportunity to put my research to the test by enrolling until late fall…
So there I was, standing with about a dozen other men and women, at the deep end of an indoor pool in my bathing suit.
Our instructor, in his signature pink body suit, barks out what we can expect from his course.
None of it was a surprise to me because I had done my research and felt certain I was as prepared as possible.
That is, until he said this…
“okay, line up at the edge of the pool and give me 8-laps.”
Did he just say swim across the pool 8 times?
I looked at the woman standing next to me who said “oh gosh, I’m such a poor swimmer,”
I replied with “you too? I can’t even swim!”
She laughed the way you do when someone tells you a joke except that I wasn’t joking.
One-by-one, everyone dove into the pool and swam their laps. The woman who confessed she was a poor swimmer glided across the water like an olympic swimmer.
Then came my turn.
I couldn’t dive - didn’t know how - so I slid into the water feet first.
Then, my mind went completely blank.
Hanging on to the edge of the pool I had two choices, swim or give up.
My mind was beating the crap out of me insisting that if I didn’t give up now I might embarrass myself, look a fool or drown.
The instructor asked if everything was ok. “Sure” I replied back and although I don’t think he noticed, there was a tremble in my voice.
I pushed off and began swimming. Wait, not swimming, I doggy paddled because it was the only way I knew how to swim.
Within seconds I realized there was no way I could sustain doggy paddling for 8-laps.
My mind racing, I thought, why not swim under water - maybe that’s easier?
Nope, it wasn’t easier.
Back to doggy paddling.
I made it one lap and was exhausted. “There’s no way I can do this.”
I wanted to cry but the thought of giving up when everyone - all 12 people, the instructor and his assistant - was looking down at me kept me from having an in-water meltdown.
It was in that moment that I decided come hell or lungs collapsing I’m finishing.
Too tired to paddle any longer I rolled on my back like a seal and began kicking.
Two laps. Three laps.
From the corner of my eye I noticed movement but was too focused to figure out who or what it was - as long as it didn’t jump in with me I’d be alright.
Four laps, Six laps. Eight laps.
I did it!
When I came out of the water - over 20minutes later - I was greeted with clenched jaws and glaring eyes. No one was allowed to leave until we all completed the exercise. Yikes!
All that research and it never occurred to me that swimming skills were a necessary part of scuba diving. Oops.
A few weeks later, as he handed me my certificate, my instructor confessed he tracked me that day in the pool ready to jump in because I clearly couldn’t swim - I truly sucked on top of the water but beneath the oceans floor, I was brilliant.
What got me through that experience was knowing that my mind was either my friend or my enemy. I choose to create a friendly passenger to swim and dive alongside me.
See that’s the thing, there isn’t a moment when the mind doesn’t want to mess with you a little. You can let it lead you not into the deep end of a pool or you can give it the OK hand signal and continue on to deeper waters.
If we were lounging side-by-side at the Catskills, we’d bond over fruity drinks with pink umbrellas and then exchange emails on the back of a ring stained coaster. (HOW FAB IS THAT?!)
THE BAD NEWS? We’re all out of coasters. The good news? We can still become email pen-pals. Yay! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. What’s yours?
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