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#182659 - 09/16/05 08:46 AM My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
Hon Offline
First off, I have to say that my fear of the unknown and fear of failure are long standing. I have worked through them many times in the past but have been unable to conquer them.

Since my husband, who has been a certified diver in the past, was taking this course as a refresher, I thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to try diving in a controlled environment with a built in buddy whom I trust completely. When it came time to introduce myself to the group, I made that exact statement adding on that I have enjoyed snorkeling with my husband but am not very comfortable in the water. I was the only one in the group of 12 who made this admission. I was assured by the instructor that it was 'easy'.

After our classroom work was done, surprise #1 came. We were to be assigned buddies and they didn't allow family members to buddy each other. Mistakes #1 & 2 followed. I was assigned a 12 year old girl as my buddy and I didn't tell anyone except my husband that I was freaked out by this.

Surprise #2 was the warmup - 10 lengths of the 25m pool. Seeing as I had never done anything like 10 lengths in my lifetime, I stood on the deck trying to talk myself into trying at least. Again I was the only one in the group to do so. One of the instructors came to me and, to his credit, asked me some questions about how I was feeling but then didn't listen to my answers! He proceeded to tell me that I would be ok once I got some conditioning. I said 'What are you talking about?!!! I know I am in great condition. What I don't know is if I can overcome my fear and do 10 lengths!!' Here comes Mistake #3 - he said that he couldn't certify me if I couldn't do at least 8 lengths and what I heard was I'm not getting certified...before I even put a toe in the water.

So I manage to get myself in the water and do 6 lengths before the warmup time is over. My husband was the only one to notice this, for me, great accomplishment and comment positively on it.

Next came the games. 'See how far you can swim underwater'- to my dismay, about a quarter of the distance of the least capable swimmer in the group. 'Find the weight on the bottom of the pool'- The weight was dropped past the point where I can swim underwater, I wear glasses and I bob like a cork so, embarassingly, I'm the only one who can't find it. 'Blow spouts from the snorkel tube' - I have the type of snorkel that drains itself but still I'm gently chastised for not being able to do this.

By now, I'm tired, cold and frustrated but able to will myself on to the next activity, surface dives. After assurances that all I had to do was hinge my hips, point down and kick my feet up and I would drop like a stone, I set off to the dropoff with my buddy to give it a try. No surprise to me, as an aforementioned bobber, I end up with my head down and my legs up in the correct position (so I was told) bobbing like a bouy with fins on top. So I let go of my nose and use both arms in an attempt to swim down to the bottom (it is about diving after all), I run out of air and panic. I come to the top in a hurry and end up with a snoot full of water. Gasping, choking and looking frantically for help, all I can see is the terrified eyes of a child, my buddy.

That was the last straw. After I calmed down I got out of the pool, picked up my stuff and left with a feeling of abject failure and, ironically, without doing any actual SCUBA.

Because of the support I have received here and from my husband, I am going to call the instructor, explain my situation and feelings, and find out if they think that they can help me through this. I hope he is honest enough to say no if that is the case.

I'll keep you good people informed of my progress or lack thereof.
Newfoundlanders are the only people in heaven who want to go home.

#182660 - 09/16/05 10:29 AM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
SimonB Offline
Take up pedro2's offer. Your group was too big for your needs, with personalised attention you'll have no problem and have a great time. Sounds like your instructor was more interested in how many people they could push through than how good of a job they were doing.

#182661 - 09/16/05 10:36 AM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
seachange Offline
Hello Hon,
You did a wonderful job and stepped outside your own boundaries. Congratulations, and don't worry about what others think or say. You know you did great.
The following question is meant in a very gentle way: Are you sure you really WANT to SCUBA dive or are you doing it for some other reason? I am not by any means a highly experienced diver, but I have seen people pushed somewhat unhappily or half-heartedly into diving , and it does not look like much fun for them. On the other hand, if you truly dream of diving, GO FOR IT and don't worry about how others respond to you. You will find the dive operators in San Pedro to be patient and very supportive. OK that was my two cents worth for a Friday morning. Whatever you choose, you know you will have an awesome time in San Pedro! smile

#182662 - 09/16/05 10:58 AM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
mobunny Offline
Hon, don't give up. It is really unfortunate that your experience was so miserable. Luckily I had training by a wonderful wonderful dive shop here in Albuquerque. Because of their support, patience and "we leave no one behind attitude" I was able to overcome my fears and nervousness. I still rely on the lessons I learned during my training to calm myself down if I am feeling nervous or in a precarious situation while diving. My real point here is there are wonderful instructors out there who can introduce you the amazing breathtaking underwater world and all the magnificent creatures that call it home. I encourage you to find another local dive shop or take Peter up on his generous offer. Our experience with Protech has been excellent with a kind, concerned, well trained staff. Diving has opened up a new world to me and has provided me with an unexpected opportunity for personal growth. Don't give up. The reward is well worth it. mobunny cool

#182663 - 09/16/05 11:10 AM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
RobertE Offline
Hon - Go with Pedro2. You would still have to pay for referral dives anyway plus Protech is top notch. This is a hell of an offer. I truly believe Pedro2 has a passion for the sport and sharing it with others is more important than just making a buck. That is the nice thing about diving in San Pedro.

Naui tends to be a bit overkill is some of their training and some of the things they have you do for certification are somewhat pointless. I'm sure some will argue over which agency is best.

To me agencies don't matter, what is important is an instructor that will provide you all the necessary skills to be a confident, safe and self-reliant diver. Also, the instructor and you need to develop a rapport.

If it is any encouragement I had a healthy respect for the water and wasn't a great swimmer. I went to the parks and rec center, practiced swimming, treading water etc to build up my confidence (at age 37). Now I work part time on weekends at a dive shop and can't stay away from diving.

Stick with it and take your time.


#182664 - 09/16/05 11:11 AM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
Denny Shane Offline
I agree with SimonB... the group for you was too large. You do need personalized attention. eek

#182665 - 09/16/05 12:14 PM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
Sounds to me as if your instructors had a fairly "macho" view on how dive training should be conducted. It's true that by the end of the course you must be able to meet minimum swimming standards, but that doesn't have to be bang-bang-bang at the beginning. And duck-diving for a weight on the bottom is itself a skill that needs to be taught, practiced and learned - some people come to class with that skill already well honed, others are perfectly capable of it but just haven't learned how yet. And don't worry - everyone "bobs like a cork" until they learn one or two tricks of the trade.

Regardless of the agency you learn under, the object is to get you diving comfortably and safely. Many people find this much easier to achieve with individual personalised attention, not group hectoring.

#182666 - 09/16/05 01:13 PM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
WhiteWater Offline
:: sigh :: This is why I only do private and semi-private instruction.

Looks like I'm slow to respond this time, but would like to add my weight behind the comments already posted.

I'm not sure if I agree with all of RobertE's comments on NAUI, but he made a very valid point that should be stressed. It's not the agency that is important, it is the instructor. There are both poor and excellent instructors in every agency, the trick is to find the right one for you that you can trust and build up a rapport.

Given your fears, I too would highly recommend that you seek individualized attention from someone who will help work you through your issues one on one at a pace that is not daunting. Many of the shops, especially the ones offering large classes tend to 'gloss over' the swimming requirements for the class I've found. The result is that the student gets hit with instant stress the very first night of pool session. Added to the stress they may already be feeling and it can be overwhelming. So don't feel at all like you are alone. Kudos for having the courage to speak up, and the wisdom to know where most of the problems in your scenario existed. None of these are a barrier that can't be overcome as long as you desire to learn and work at it, and most importantly as Seachange said, a desire to dive. It is a wonderful gift to give yourself, and a terrific activity to share with someone you care for.

So I'll second (third?) the recommendations above and urge you to take Peter up on his offer. It's really quite generous and sounds like he is willing to give you the training you need, taught in a manner that you need it taught.

Best of luck and if I can be of any assistance please let me know.

~ MJ

#182667 - 09/16/05 01:28 PM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
Hon Offline
Wow!!! What an uplifting group of people you are! I am so overwhelmed by your support, I am without words...trust me, a very rare thing. I feel a real sense of being understood without condescension or judgement. I am taking your words to heart and they are making a difference. Thank you, thank you, thank you smile smile smile .
Newfoundlanders are the only people in heaven who want to go home.

#182668 - 09/16/05 01:55 PM Re: My SCUBA lesson tale of woe
ScubaLdy Offline
Donít feel like the Lone Ranger. There are a lot of divers out there who have had to work through their anxieties and the egos of some dive instructors. I am now a 68-year-old fat woman who is a very good diver.

I signed up for classes in Northern California so that I could be certified before going to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Now, donít laugh; I now know it is not a dive destination but then all I knew was that it was on the ocean so much be a good place to dive.
Long - long story shorter Ė after taking my money and my finishing all my classroom and pool work the shop changed instructors on me and the new guy, without seeing me in the water or talking to me refused to take me on the open water dives. TEARS!

In Puerto Vallarta I found a dive shop where I was the only diver and VICTOR held my hand and showed me the unbelievably beautiful underwater world. I took another full course in Maui, Hawaii and had such a panic attack that I couldnít get in the water (open ocean/no pool).

Back in California I met an instructor who assured me he could get me certified. I did the three exercises on the first day but the second day the ocean was so rough no one could get in the water.

Finally, my original shop felt guilty enough that the owner took me out with his group and I did the awful beach entry/exit-crawl though the sand first day dives. The second day was from a boat (much better).

Bottom line: I had lots of struggles but this was something I really wanted to do. Due to my perseverance I now live on Ambergris Caye and am an underwater still and video photographer.

BTW: For the first five years and a couple of hundred dive I had an anxiety attack before jumping or rolling off of the boat. I just had to talk my way though it. It happens to more people than are usually willing to admit it.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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