"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take."

Discovering Scuba: Confined Water Dives

After we completed our eLearning academic portions of our PADI Open Water Diver Certification process, it was time to get WET!  The next step was to complete a series of five confined water dives in a swimming pool to practice and repeat scuba skills to prepare for open water diving.  We booked our confined water dives with our local dive shop (West Shore Scuba) at a local swimming pool.  The confined water dives were $155 per person and were spread out over two days – Friday from 6:45pm to 9pm and Sunday from 7:30am to 11:15am.

Friday evening was pretty fast paced, mostly, we think, because of the time constraints of the facility we were at.  The facility closed at 9pm and our class was scheduled until 9pm.  There were a total of five students in our class, including one 13 year old boy (who did really well, by the way!), and three instructors.  Josh was an absolute natural and was able to watch the skills demonstrated one time and then easily replicate the skills.  Actually, he earned the title of best student in the class!  My experience was significantly different, though.  I was really nervous, which is pretty typical when learning something completely outside of anything I’ve ever done before.  But, I was committed and determined to be successful.  I started Friday evening with the group but quickly ended up working individually with two of the instructors.  I was struggling with clearing a partially flooded mask and really benefited from breaking away from the group to work individually with two of the instructors who were extremely patient and encouraging.  After a few trials, errors and rounds of troubleshooting, I was able to clear my partially flooded mask and picked up a few helpful hints along the way!  I felt really good about my progress on Friday evening.  And, despite my struggles, we both successfully completed the first confined water dive Friday evening.

Sunday, we headed back for the second day of the class.  Josh, of course, was a natural, replicating the skills with little effort and completed the rest of his confined water dives on Sunday.  I went to work right away, individually, with two instructors.  A fully flooded mask was the stumbling block of the day.  I had no problems being underwater, without a mask, breathing.  But, once that mask was put back on, full of water, it was the end of the world and I started panicking.  I made it through the second confined water dive, but, had to return to class in order to finish the remaining three confined water dives.

The next Tuesday evening, I was back in the pool to work on mask clearing.  And, I’m happy to report, the mask clearing skill was mastered!  In fact, I cleared my fully flooded mask 22 times on Tuesday evening, along with most of skills for confined water dive 3.  I headed back to the pool on Saturday, 3/17/2018, to finish up confined water dives 3, 4 and 5.  The remaining three dives on Saturday went quickly, calmly and easily.  And early Saturday afternoon, I was DONE with the confined water dives after four classes!

Each of the confined water dives had a set of skills that each diver must demonstrate in order to complete the dive.  There’s way too many skills to list here for each dive, but, if you’re interested, here are some links that detail the skills required to complete each dive:

Confined Water Dive 1

Confined Water Dive 2

Confined Water Dive 3

Confined Water Dive 4

Confined Water Dive 5

After having some time to reflect on the confined water dives portion of the certification process, I’m finding that I’m really proud of myself for working through my struggles with clearing my mask.  It’s kind of off that I was able to learn so much about myself through the process of clearing a flooded scuba mask, but, I really did.  My skills in persistence, focus and mindfulness really benefited from working through the struggle and being successful at the end.  It’s definitely one of the tougher mental challenges that I’ve worked through and I’m really thankful that I did.  My absolute favorite part of the entire confined water dive process was being able to dive with Josh.  It’s an incredibly awesome experience to share doing something so cool with someone you love and I cannot wait to get in the open water with him as my forever dive buddy!

Josh had some reflections about the confined water dives to contribute, too:  Learning to SCUBA dive has been a bucket list item for me for a very long time!  People laugh at me when I say “I am like a hippo, I am way more agile in the water”, but it is very true.  The feeling of weightlessness is amazing and the act of breathing underwater just adds to that amazing feeling.  The confined water dives were fairly easy for me.  I am a pretty laid back person and don’t get overly excited about much.  That quality did me well in this activity. Calm continuous breathing is a key part to every skill that we had to perform.  I must say that I did have an interesting time with one of the skills. We were required to sit on the bottom of the pool in the deep end and remove our gear.  Then we had to stay on the bottom and put everything back on. At one point during this skill I am pretty sure I ended up completely upside down and backwards. You see, I have a tendency to float, and with the weight in my SCUBA kit being off of me and on the bottom I started to float to the surface.  I found out the key was to keep my gear as close to me as possible without having it on. The second time around it worked great!  The entire training session was a lot of fun for me, even though we were only in a pool.  I don’t have the words to describe how excited I am to head to Florida and finish the certification.  I already have plans in my head to make Dive Master before it’s time for us to move onto the boat! Key Largo, here we come!

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