I had to resist the urge to start rapping Nate Dogg every single time the scuba instructor said “regulator” during my 5 hours classroom lesson & 8 hour pool training this past weekend. So… about 137 times.
Regulators are the black Darth Vadar-mouth pieces you try not to clench onto & use to breathe underwater through your air tank. (Try not clenching for dear life onto that thing the first few times…. breathing through your mouth for 30 min underwater is SUCH a strange sensation).
Aquariums are my happy place, I’m obsessed with marine life, and I had flirted with the idea of scuba diving since I walked through my first shark tunnel.
The scuba certification course I’m taking is through PCH Scuba and spread across two weekends. The first weekend consisted of classroom work & equipment lessons on Saturday, and then pool training all Sunday.
So what did an entire day of scuba pool training consist of? First up: 7:30am strip down and hopping in to a (thankfully warm) pool for the survival swim test – 10 min tread & then 400 meter swim.
Then after a 30 minute struggle into our wetsuits (seriously.. it took 3 blisters & 2 people to help me get into that straightjacket), we strapped on our BCD’s – buoyancy control devices – harnesses holding our inflation vests, air tank, weights & trim. The general rule of thumb is to add 10% of your body weight + 4 pounds. The weights & trim are strategically places in pockets all over your body, to balance and evenly sink your body under water. Your regulator (“regulatooooooooors!”), overpressure relief valve & pressure gauge all hang off tubes from your back, but always stay within arms reach.
The pool session consists of back to back exercises -all meant to mimic possible worse case scenarios while diving. A controlled emergency ascent. Flooding your mask. Swimming 30 feet in one breath. That tight feeling when you are about to run out of air.
By far the hardest drill for me was being able to slowly breathe an overflowing stream of air when your air valve malfunctions. A rush of chilly air floods your face & in order to breathe you need to slowly sip it while not sipping in
any too much water. I kept failing & probably had to do this drill over 7 or 8 times… the more times I tried the more I started psyching myself out (and then of course I had to pee in my wetsuit… of course!)
We were there the full day… wrapping up around 4pm. Suffice it to say that between the no lunch break, being in the sun all day and swimming around with 30 lbs of weight on my back, I inhaled a mountain of Thai food at dinner and then promptly slept like a baby.
Part 2 is in a few weeks: two days of ocean training at Catalina Island, 22 miles off of Long Beach. I’ll write another post about how tough it is to be in a wetsuit by 7am, how many gallons of salt water I swallow, and hopefully all the coral & fishies & creatures I see. 😉