Sunday, June 9, 2013

SCUBA day 1, part 1

So I haven't been skating this year (this weekend was when I would have taken my dance tests if I hadn't stopped. I was kind of sad, but honestly- I don't really miss skating.)  I also haven't been rowing- our city has been flooding, and we can't use the river.  The club has almost secured the rights to use a local resevior, but the times are all in the morning, and after I'm at work.

So I needed a new hobby.  After getting away from the expense of skating, I was thinking something affordable.  I picked SCUBA.  Oops.

The benefit is that Kevin and I can do this together.  He is a fish in water.  I am not, but I do enjoy being in the water.

About two weeks ago we picked up a DVD and a classwork book.  The DVD mostly emphasized the importance of high-fiving while diving.  Also, that diver's are fun people.  The book was a little more serious, but for all the ways to kill yourself while diving, I worried there wasn't enough information in it!  Yesterday (Saturday) we did 4 hours of a classroom session, reviewing the book - still very basic- and having a very enthusiastic instructor tell us how fun this is, how rare problems are, etc.

Then, we went to the pool for about 5-6 hours.  We have an in-joke in my family, after my Mom was absolutely hysterical (not funny) on a Carnival ride, and she came off and said "I think I did rather well" (she did not).  At the end of the day in the pool session, I told Kevin "I think I did rather well".  Um, in fairness, I probably did better than my Mom did on that ride, but it wasn't a pretty day for me.

I had a few minor freak outs and one big freak out.  I had to be taken aside for remedial instruction.  I'm up at 2:30 today because I can't sleep since I'm worried about the pool dives tomorrow.

I'm sure I'll leave a few things out, but here's what we did:
-Put together gear. I can do this okay.  Problem is, I absolutely cannot lift the air tank, which is kind of an integral part of the gear.  That might be a problem, though Kevin can probably help me quite a bit. I mean, I'm never going to dive without him.

- Wear a wetsuit.  First- I never saw myself in it, so I have no idea how unflattering it was, but man, I am going to need custom made.  Surprisingly, the one I had the knee pads actually hit my knees, but the crotch was insanely baggy, and the arms were so long it was like wearing an elphant skin.  I probably could have had 8" longer arms and still fit this thing, I think when you have baggy folds you lose some of the insulating properties!  That said- this was very cool.  It was like being a trainer at sea world.

- Get in the water, breathe underwater:  Okay, I am just very tentative every time I have to go underwater. It's like I don't trust the regulator will work.  It does.  I also find that I tip over insanely and my feet try to fly above my head. The instructor puts more weights on me, but I'm not sure that is a real world solution.

- Take regulator out of mouth, put it back in.  Surprisingly- I did this fine.  Surprisingly, because later it doesn't go well.  We did this using the purge button and blowing it out with our mouth.  I do fine on both, and we are told to start blowing out with our mouth because it is easier. Later in the class, I always use the purge button, because this is a major source of freak outs.

- Show two different ways of recovering the regulator when it is out of your mouth.  This is where things start going badly for me.  I can "recover" the regulator with my hand, but by the time I am able to get it into my mouth and attempt to purge it, I've usually run out of bubbles to blow out ("never stop breathing") and take on a mouthful of water. I stand up a number of times (we are on the shallow end) and can't do this.  The instructor tells me to just move on, we'll try again later.

- Signal buddy out of air, take their back-up (octo) and breathe off of it.  Same problem with the previous one, by the time I get it in my mouth, I'm having mouthfuls of water and freaking out.  This is when I get told I have to go work one on one with an instructor, Kevin, my buddy, gets relegated to remedial instruction with me.

So over in remedial instruction, I freak out a number of times.  I just cannot get the damn octo in my mouth and breathing before I take on so much water (up my nose too) that I freak out. A few times I stand up out of water with both the instructor and Kevin going "what the hell, you had it, why aren't you underwater breathing?" but it's just like I can't fit the thing in my mouth, and even when I do, and purge it, I still can't breathe. Finally, I do it, but when the instructor signals okay  (they do that a lot! Okay is the only option, things are okay or things are going to hell in a handbasket- there is no signal for "no, not really, but don't worry, I'm not dying) it takes me like 5 breathes before I can signal okay back, because I'm just not confident in my breathe. 

So then we do the hose recovery, and I do it the first way, and he signals OK, and to go up, and I signal back the 2nd way, so we do that first.  That was my mini moment of being proud of myself, because I could have stood up, which would have been kind of nice.

During my remedial instruction, the class had moved on ahead of us.  They had practiced clearing their mask, breathing underwater without their masks, and taking their mask and putting it back on underwater.  These are skills that I think a few people actually had to do a few times, because it took them quite awhile.  I, however, actually did really well here. The reason- I think my mask may be a tad too big (we might get a new one), and I had been exhaling through my nose a number of times, so I can clear my mask without a problem, both partial and full flood.  It was hard for me to get underwater without my nose covered, but once the instructor told me I could hold my nose, I could get underwater, stop holding my nose and did fine.   In theory, if my mask is kicked off underwater, I'm not sure how it will go.  But I was able to take it off and put it back on okay.  I want to get a neoprene strap for my mask, as the plastic one was tearing my hair to shreds.

I think this is the point where we put our fins on and then had to swim on the surface (with BCD inflated- so like a life vest) with our snorkel.  This was SO HARD. You tip over while you try to swim.  We also had to take the snorkel out of our mouth, and put the regulator in, which I did fine, and then put the snorkel back in, which I did not. No matter how many times I blew air to clear it (and I have a purge valve on it) I couldn't get a strong breathe. Being at the surface though, was it really cheating to stick my head out of water and breathe?

I feel like we did something else next, but I can't remember what.

At this point, we moved our class over to the deep end. This post is getting really long, so I'm going to start another.

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