I'm going to put it out there. Like many of the swimmers I've met, I'm terrified of drowning. We're talking recurring-nightmare-where-you-almost-die terrified. (Have psych people ever figured out why people have those?) I have no idea why so many people who are, in fact, GOOD swimmers are so scared of drowning but there you go. Perhaps it is this underlying fear that made me so excited to learn SCUBA, literally breathing underwater.
Through a series of very generous gifts from my family, I was able to sign up for a PADI Open Water course and tackle my first item on my adventure bucket list. After completing this class I can dive anywhere in the world at a depth of up to 60ft as long as I have another certified diver with me. I took my class with Seguin's SCUBA Center over six intense weeks. 5 hours of class, including 3 hours in the pool, after a full day's work is especially tiring. That being said, I had a blast doing it.
The class is made up of a combination of classroom and practical lessons. Classroom lessons came with 60+ pages of reading a week and homework. Each week there was a quiz at the end of class and a final exam at the end of the course. There are a lot of warnings and 'what to do if this goes wrong' lessons but given that you're an airbreather underwater you're thankful to know it. I will warn you that some of the explanations offered for changing pressure and how a compass works will make you cringe a little bit if you are familiar with these phenomena but it's not worth trying to correct anyone. The part that I found most interesting was calculating how long you can safely stay at a give depth.
In the pool, every time we went under, I had to tell myself to keep breathing. It's easier to breathe through a regulator underwater than above water which made it a little bit easier. Surprisingly the most difficult part was the actual swimming in SCUBA gear. You're caring a hefty amount of weight between the weight belt and the gear, and you want to be somewhere in the water column instead of the top or bottom. The first week we were allowed in the deep end, I was either on the bottom of the pool or on the surface. By the last week, I could show off a little bit more.
All of my instructors and divemasters were knowledgeable with great sense of humor. We learned every single skill in that book and practiced until we could do it right. We had joked with each other and learned extra skills such as blowing bubble donuts. We're not done yet though. In June we complete part two by doing a weekend of open-water dives at Lake George.