MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Let me start off by saying, I’m not a strong swimmer. So when I got pegged to go try out a new scuba program on base, I went into the assignment with apprehension. I think scuba is a neat idea, but the idea of spending an extended amount of time not only in the water, but underwater didn’t sit well with me.
This was a first for me, though, and I’m usually up to try new things.
The class was taught by instructors from Get Wet Scuba, a company based out of Palm Springs. The class I participated in was one of their free Discovery Scuba classes.
As safe as it sounded, it did nothing to quell the nervous ball in the pit of my stomach. So, I decided to spy a bit. I went to an earlier class to just watch, and decide if I was going to do this thing.
To my relief, no one came remotely close to drowning. I actually got a bit excited to get into the water when I saw how basic it was.
The classes were small. Mine had three, which is a good thing I guess. That way it’d be more noticeable if I started to die. My instructor was a pretty cool old dude named Wayne. He’s been scuba diving since, like the 70s.
“Safety is our number one concern,” Wayne told us.
At this point, I was feeling pretty good. That and we were “diving” in the shallow end of the Training Tank.
Yeah, we were scuba diving in the shallow end of a pool. Like, the kiddie end. There were some points where I was still uncomfortable though. I was still in the water, after all. Fish belong in water. Not people.
So we go over the basics of what scuba is and the gear. It was just a short sit down class, just to make sure we knew what the parts were called and what the underwater safety signals were.
The point of the class was for us to experience what scuba was and learning the feeling of “breathing underwater.”
It was warmer in the pool than outside, so at least I didn’t have to worry about freezing to death on top of drowning.
Everything was straightforward though. Wayne taught us how to our regulators (that’s the part that you use to breath), and our buoyancy compensator devices to make us “neutrally buoyant.” Wayne described it like being in being in space.
I’ve never been to space, but now I understand why astronauts use pools to simulate zero gravity. We just sort of bobbed halfway between the water’s break and the pool’s floor.
The main thing I had to remember was to be a mouth-breather. No really. Try breathing through your nose as see how successful your scuba trip is.
I was learning a good bit out there. With this little foray into scuba I think, I’m starting to like it.
Once we got the hang of this alien world, Wayne let us just drift around the pool for a while. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
I took the time to pose for a few snapshots. It wasn’t hard to convince me, though. This mug belongs on a front page. We all know this. But, it’s hard to take photos when you’re in four feet of water and all your photographer wants to do is float around. It was fun all the same.
The day was over all too quickly. I’ve never been in the position where I wanted to swim more. But, that was the idea behind Discovery Scuba. They give you a little taste on what it’s like, hoping to reel you in for some real classes.
They win. I am actually giving some thought to scuba diving, like real scuba diving. Like in the ocean where the real danger is, scuba diving.
It’s one of those cool, worldly sounding hobbies. Like saying I’m a cigar aficionado (which I say), or drinking good scotch (which I do.)
I tried to walk out of the pool, scuba gear and all, for another photo op. That was easier said than done. I always thought all those bad 70s beach movies where people with scuba gear walk like impaired penguins exaggerated that point. They don’t. There’s no way to not look absolutely ridiculous walking around with a heavy oxygen tank and flippers longer than your femur.
We had the option to sign up for the full class right after.
I’m not quite ready for that yet. Consider me more of a scuba fledgling. Maybe even still a nestling. I’m going work my way up to. We’ll see. Next time, next time.