M1I was terrified that he was terrified. When I looked at him swimming toward me, pale as the moon with his eyes wide in fear, arms flailing and mouth gaping open, I knew I had to do something. I needed to make water fun.

My dive buddy and I had never taken formal swimming lessons and never went past the surf zone at the beach. Mark also had a fear of the water and this became very apparent when he was instructed to swim across a swimming pool without stopping to touch the bottom. After eight swim lessons, we improved our swim skills but Mark was still terrified in just five feet of water. We knew that if he was going to learn to scuba dive then Mark needed to overcome his fear. I promptly began the “exorcism.”

First, I talked Mark through the traumatizing water event he experienced when he was five years old. Then using a sort of neuro linguistic technique, I recited the event back to him but altered the experience to enable him to have power over the situation. I asked him to replace his bad memory with the new memory that had a better outcome. Next, we enrolled in another swim class but between sessions, a friend invited us over to swim in his pool. Out goal was to create a fun environment for Mark. It didn’t take much and before I knew it, Mark was looking a lot more comfortable in the water.

We began our second swim class and Mark had a new confidence. He began setting goals for himself to improve his swim stroke and breathing. He soon became at ease in the water and was able to complete the necessary skills needed to pass the PADI Open Water waterskills test. The terror has been vanquished!

Seven and a half months later, we’ve completed our Advanced Open Water scuba course and Mark has been in the water scuba diving or snorkeling countless times. To overcome the terror of five feet of water in such a short amount of time is amazing. What’s more, Mark is passionate about being in the water and loves his time there. Am I proud? Heck yes!

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