SCUBA stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (and a great time as well!) My first (and hopefully not last) experience occurred during my 1999 vacation to the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. The resort I went to, called Beaches, was an “all- inclusive” and they were offering a How To Scuba Dive ‘resort course’. I had always wanted to do this, but since we live in Manhattan, I was restricted. The course was offered to anybody above the age of 12. I jumped at the chance!
The lessons started with a brief swim test, which was challenging to some of the less athletic adults. I, being a good swimmer from birth, passed easily, but was a little tired afterwards. Then, we received a basic science lesson on how air works when it’s compressed, and about your body’s air spaces. We talked about equalizing the pressure underwater, and about how to do hand signals. The tension was mounting, and my mind was screaming “Get in the water, Get in the water!” but it is very important to regard the rules taught during this hour-long introduction.
Our group of nine, including me, were finally ready to put the gear on. I felt like a space man, and my flippers made it impossible to walk! It also weighed a lot and felt very awkward. When we jumped into the small pool (which was shaped like an air tank), the weight disappeared instantly. I was over the top in excitement! It was just, just so cool!!! I guess that’s the only way to describe it. My excitement continued for the whole 1½ hours.We learned needed techniques such as getting air from another tank if yours fails, “de-flooding” a flooded mask, and ways to achieve neutral buoyancy.
We were going to go out into the ocean for a dive down to see a reef 40 feet below, but the conditions weren’t suitable. Beaches’ instructors take novice divers out only if the conditions are perfect. If I come back to the resort again, I’ll have to take the training course over, but if I do, HEY! It will be fun! For now I have something great to remember — I stayed underwater for 12 minutes, without the aid of a snorkel!!!
Jesse traveled to Turks and Caicos with his family in 1999.
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