Forty feet underwater I closed my eyes, pulled off my mask, and continued to breathe long and deep through my regulator while the other SCUBA students watched. After 30 seconds I carefully placed the mask back on my face, blew out hard through my nose in an upward motion and cleared my mask, while giving the "I'm OK" sign to my instructor. This is just one of the techniques you learn in order to become SCUBA certified.
"One time when I was diving a seal stole my mask," said SCUBA instructor Doug Burrell. "We teach our students to be prepared for every scenario underwater."
SCUBA stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus and has been the most daring activity I've ever participated in.
To be certified in SCUBA one must attend lectures with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) instructors, spend hours practicing underwater-breathing techniques in pools, take quizzes from readings and pass the final exam. Of course the most fun part is the two open water dives (here in Utah, we do them at the Homestead Crater in Midway) where you can explore underwater.
"The scariest thing we did was practice out-of-air situations," said James Robison, my dive partner and husband. "But after you learn it once, using your buddy's alternate air source isn't as bad."
I asked Ted Gwilliam, expert diver and owner of Scuba Ted's, what the main rules were to remember when diving.
"Well there are three rules," said Gwilliam. "One, never hold your breath; two, never, never hold your breath; and three, never, never, never hold your breath."
When you hold your breath while SCUBA diving your lungs expand. When deep underwater the air in your lungs is already more dense so when you surface, the air becomes less dense and your lungs expand even more, causing them to pop. This is the most serious injury that can happen while diving.
The others are caused by diving too deep or too long.
"Training and experience make most situations quite manageable," said Gwilliam. "What we are doing in SCUBA training is teaching people how to deal with common problems they might enquire, and then making them comfortable with those solutions through a lot of repetition."
My husband and I had a blast learning to dive and recommend it to anyone (you can start as young as 10 years old). We've decided to put the skills we've learned into practice on an upcoming trip to Lake Tahoe.
For more information go to www.ScubaTeds.com.