Saturday, January 25, 2014

Diving Day!

Dive Posse!
   It was COLD in the pool today. The shop's heater has been malfunctioning, so it was a crisp 69 degrees for our 6-hour rescue-diving pool session. There is a new heater on site, waiting to be installed, but that didn't help us. What DID help us was that Chris graciously ran out to buy hot chocolate for everyone! She single-handedly saved us all.

   We went through a ton of skills, including practicing demonstration-quality: removal, replacement and clearing of mask underwater, fin pivots, hovering for 30 seconds underwater, CESA, and breathing from a free-flowing reg. We did skin-diving skills using a snorkel to dive down without scuba gear, and clearing it at the surface. We led each other in swimming underwater with no mask, down the pool and back.
   Rescue skills included helping a panicked diver at the surface regain buoyancy while avoiding having them tow you underwater with them, helping a panicked diver underwater, providing a spare reg to a diver out of air, rescuing an unconscious diver at the bottom of the 10' pool and taking them to the surface, rescue breathing for an unconscious diver at the surface. Nick signed up to do his "tired diver tow" and pushed me around the pool for 5 or 6 minutes by my fins while I kicked back.
   I volunteered to play the victim as much as I could because it gives me a chance to keep improving my comfort in the water. Especially considering there's a good chance you'll get splashed or dunked a bit when your eyes are closed. That stuff used to FREAK ME OUT. And now... ?  Nope. :)

   Another wacky drill that I didn't even know I was going to have to do would have paralyzed me a year ago. We had to get a buddy and sit at 10', then exchange all our gear—everything but the wet suits. Poor Nick got to work with me because we were the closest in size... and Nick is 6' tall. We started by exchanging our regulators and BCDs, then weights, then fins, then masks. Even with all the extra weight I was wearing to compensate for my extra buoyancy (not one but THREE neoprene wetsuits because I was so cold!!!), Nick struggled to stay on the bottom. My BCD, which was tight on me, barely fit over one of his arms, much less two. He could scarcely get his toes in my fins. I was, pardon the pun, swimming in his BCD and spent half the time with my legs over my head, kicking to stay down. And... Our masks fit each other like a glove. (So at least we could see!) Good laughs all around.
   Today was the first day I can truly say that I wasn't even a little scared or nervous about doing all this. Not even the mask removal... and that part went slowwwwly. I was so intently focused on how on earth we'd accomplish this, and working so hard to get it done, and I had no fear. None. BEST. FEELING. EVER.
   Who knows what the rest of my life will hold and whether or not I'll ever use these skills professionally. What I do know is that now, more than ever, I feel like a mermaid. I LOVE diving. And if on my travels I ever run across a diver in trouble, I am this much more prepared to help them.