Coming up, coming down… Yeah, as a triathlete, in the water, you do a lot of that but yesterday it took on a more ethereal meaning.
In my quest to become “friends” with water, I took a Learn to Dive class. I’ll pretty much do anything water related to toughen myself mentally in preparation of my quest to swim 1.2 miles and taking this class definitely put a few more muscles in my swim confidence.
My instructor, Johnathan Biggs, was about as perfect as an instructor could get. Patient, kind, encouraging, correction without making you feel like a complete loser and quite witty. First was the classroom. You know the do’s, don’t’s, hand signals, safety: all the legal stuff that you need to know before coming down. I learned a great deal, best Groupon I’ve used.
After class, it was time for show-tell-do. I watched him outfit his Buoyancy Compensator Device -BCD (i.e., the vest that holds the tank and thing you breath in) and I was able to mimic him down to the insertion of the extra weight. Next came the “real deal” getting in the water with the tank on. Umm, yeah, it’s definitely different. It’s like playing in the pool with someone on your shoulders, although I don’t really know what that’s like because I’ve never done that, but I imagine the experiences are similar. So, once I got the breathing into the aspirator down, it was time to come down, and so I went. Now, if you’re a swimmer, you’ve sat on the floor of the shallow end of the pool before and it probably was no big deal. Well, hovering over the floor in the shallow end, palms on the floor with a BCD on your back, aspirator in mouth while wearing a mask that covers your nose is quite the experience. I’m not used to breathing out of my mouth, especially underwater, so that was an adjustment. I felt panicky because I felt my nose was stopped up and it was hard to breathe but it wasn’t because I had pure air in my mouth, I had to remember to inhale. I had my GoPro and I got some footage but not sure how much because, you know, I walk around in a dazed and confused state and I forgot to make sure the battery was fully charged but nevertheless, I mastered the underwater mouth breathing w/aspirator. Now, why is it whenever you make a little progress, instructors/teachers always want more? Excited that I had the breathing down, we ventured out of the shallow to the 10ft. Now, diving is an experience in that you can’t wear earplugs so this is where it gets good and wet.
Clearing the pressure from one’s ears, while wearing a mask over your nose that occasionally may get water in it, while breathing out of your mouth takes a little bit of skill and lots of practice. Took me a minute to master the water release from the mask without completely drowning myself but I was able to give the OK sign and move on to the real Molly.
The BCD is the technical name for my Molly, the air inflater/deflater thing was my ticket to maintain perfect buoyancy. It pumps air in and out of the vest to help you ascend and descend. Once in the 10ft, swimming back and forth without using my legs was a serious challenge, because hey, Triathletes are conditioned to using our legs, sometimes in the water but it’s the exact opposite here. Bad thing about my swimming back and forth is that I would run into the wall and become vertical and in scuba diving, you don’t want to do that too quick because of the pressure and you could literally pop a lung. Took a few trips but I got the hang of it and was able to circle swim over the 10ft edge.
All total, I spent about 45 minutes to an hour Learning to Dive and I must say, it was one of the most peaceful experiences I think I’ve ever had. Time seemed to stand still underwater. I could hear and actually control my breathing, whenever I felt myself get anxious. I was listening to my breathing and allowing my body to work. NEVER did that before. I tried listening to my breathing while running, yeah, totally didn’t work. Here, I felt serene, happy, calm and very present and aware. My mind felt at rest, all that while submerged underwater, breathing out of my mouth. Go figure.
John said scuba diving changes peoples lives and he’s right. There’s something to be said about it and for me, it’s the ultimate definition of “going with the flow”. In scuba diving, less is best and in a world where we are constantly being told we need and want more, it was a welcome change. There were many highs and lows and I happily embraced them all.
Now, regarding my parallelization, I had to Google Molly and after reading up on it, scuba diving is definitely my Tom Ford. The BCD (inflater/delflater) is what helps you achieve Neutral Buoyancy – the state where you are neither floating nor sinking. For me, it was that perfect high people talk about. I’ve never had a runner’s high, probably never will but I did have a moment of euphoria when I crossed the finish line of my first Tri but this feeling was different. It stayed with me, is still with me now and most “drugs” don’t last that long. The effects were so lasting, I was able to reduce my rest time while doing my laps in the pool today. So much so, that I was able to lower the times of my 300, 400 and 800yd swim. I didn’t do anything different, but I felt better in the water. I felt like the water’s friend.
Habits are normally expensive, this one is no exception but as long as I remember the rules, I shouldn’t suffer any negative, long-term effects. This experience was good for my mental health, Namaste.
Coming up, coming down, Riding clean, fix your hair in my crown…
Hold up, I don’t pop Molly, I rock Scuba Diving.
But my ears do pop! What ails ya?