Imagination never calculates actual ability, current skill, realtime fear or the stalwartness of an inbuilt mammoth refusing to budge, into the equation. Having signed up for scuba diving I was under the mistaken impression that even though I can hardly swim and allow myself to believe that there are sharks lurking in the swimming pool, that swimming in the big "out there" ocean would be a breeze, full of romantic overtures and a lovable mammal. I blame Free Willy.
There are 5 stages to complete in controlled waters be it a swimming pool or shallow bay (approx 2 metres deep) before even stepping out into any sort of depth. I failed to even sniff at the horizon of Stage 1, which I actually find more laughable than distressing. If anything, having the ingrained sense of guilt that every woman owns (even when it's not your fault), I felt sorry for my instructor whom I hope did not despair at having the worst student ever. Incidentally, our instructor's name is Jonas which made me think of Jonah and more importantly The Whale (the kind that eats you). What were the odds, eh?
During the 5 stages we had to run through basic techniques with our equipment under water. I balked at the point we were asked to allow water in through our masks and blow it out using our noses. Firstly, by letting water in, it meant I couldn't see anything. I was working so hard at controlling my breathing that any extra hindrance was simply an overload on my survival instincts. I kept breathing in instead of blowing out so more water rushed in. Coupled with the fact that my mask was still flooded with water, I didn't stop to think about fixing the situation and reaching a solution (which we learnt in class). First things first, my red alert head told me to get my face out of the water. I spent the rest of the day soaking up the sun on a float, getting burnt and throwing up overboard (a sea-worthy first).
Given that the course is such that I can complete it at my own pace even though the first time went so disastrously wrong that I think Jonas will swim to Ninevah rather than teach me again, what has this tiny stint in scuba taught me and what will I do from now on?
Firstly, I need the spend more time in the pool. I need to build up stamina and learn not to panic. I also need to learn to disregard my nose. When that's all sorted I need to learn that having my head underwater for extended periods of time is ok. How I go about this I'm not sure but if I plod along surely enough, I might get to see a mermaid yet.