Sunday, July 3, 2011

Phew! It's O-V-E-R!

Well, I'm shocked. Awed. Amazed.


I did it. I completed my SCUBA training and am now a certified PADI Open Water Diver.

We did two dives on Saturday and two dives today. All four dives were in Square Lake near Stillwater. Visibility was only so-so. Maybe 6-8 feet. Apparently it's normally much better. Oh well.

Dive 1 was simply an orientation dive. There a little diamond-shaped course that we were supposed to follow. I had some buoyancy issues (getting to the bottom and staying down). And then my fins came off a couple times. I was totally able to keep calm and put them back on and adjust them without a hitch. I did get to see some fish, though. That was pretty neat. And all the plant life that's so annoying when swimming? It's kinda pretty when diving.

Dive 2 was mostly done out at a platform. We did a couple exercises to get out there. Tired diver tows. Snorkel/regulator exchanges. Once we got to the platform and descended, panic started to set in. I felt claustrophobic. I knew I was getting air, but I didn't feel like I was. It's an adjustment switching from nose breathing to mouth breathing with something in my mouth. I just wanted to get that thing out of my mouth. I did manage to remain calm, though. When the instructor came by, I signaled that I needed to go up. One of the other instructors ascended with me and talked me down out of my panic. I descended again and completed all the exercises. Fin pivot. Regulator recovery and clearing. Flooding and clearing my mask. Alternate air exchange and ascent.

I was so proud of myself for working through my anxiety and having a successful first two dives. I was really excited to go back today. I familiarized myself with the remaining exercises and discussed with Jeff the best way to accomplish them.

Dive 3 was back out at the platform. Before getting in the water, though, we reviewed the basics of using a compass. This time our descent had to be without holding onto the line, but using it as a visual reference. The panic/claustrophobia did begin to set in a little once at the platform, but I successfully worked through it. We had to do another flood/clear of my mask. This time was not as successful as the day before. I ended up taking in water and had to cough my way through it before I could clear my mask. In the end, I was successful though. We did another fin pivot exercise while on the platform and then a controlled emergency ascent. I had to repeat this exercise, because I forgot to do some basic preparation before heading to the surface. My second attempt was flawless. We returned to shore with a surface swim using compass navigation.

Dive 4 was the final dive for the certification. This time our descent was supposed to be without a visual reference. I wasn't quite able to descend perfectly straight down. Good thing everything is done in the buddy system, so Jeff stayed near me, and we made it to the platform A-OK. We were supposed to do a complete mask removal and replacement. I was unable to psych myself into doing this exercise. Fail. We did a hovering exercise and practiced a safety stop (hovering at about 15 ft for 3 min) before getting to the surface. I really was apprehensive that I would be successful at these exercises, but I did surprising well. We surface swam back to shore and then did a little more navigation work. Many of the others in the class swam out to find a sunken boat; I had to work with the instructor on mask removal and replacement.

Check out my super cute SCUBA hair
as I work on disassembling my scuba unit.

I'm still not 100% comfortable being underwater, and there are a few skills that I definitely need to improve on, but I'm certified and can now practice whenever we feel like renting tanks of air.

We already have most of the gear (yeah, that's now confident Jeff was that I would pass. Best. Husband. Ever). Including full face masks with communication units. I got the one in emerald (lower right) and Jeff got the white. These will be great because I won't actually have a regulator in my mouth and will be able to breathe more naturally through both my nose and mouth. The extra bonus is that Jeff and I will be able to actually talk with each other. I'm kind of excited to get in the water with this baby.

My next dive will probably be at SeaLife Minnesota (an aquarium at the Mall of America). Jeff scheduled us to go on July 17th, but I want a little more time to work on buoyancy and simply get more comfortable being submerged in water first. He'll do this first dive with a different buddy while I observe from the top of the tank. Luckily, we have access to a deep, 14' pool across the street on campus for me to practice in, so I can feel more comfortable and prepare for Scuba with the Sharks.

I'm excited!

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  1. Congratulations.... that's so awesome!!!!!

    If you ever make it to Tobermory, Ontario, Canada make sure to check out the Fathom Five Park. It's Ontario's only underwater park... I think it boasts of having 17 shipwrecks.

    Gotta run.

  2. Thanks, Stacey! That sounds really awesome. I'll have to check it out.

  3. Congrats!! Really, you should be so proud of yourself for working through your anxiety and doing all that! GREAT JOB!

  4. Thanks, TNM! There's nothing like kicking anxiety in the butt. ;)

  5. Go you! And I hear that hair is totally coming back!