882055_10200860250497697_238959579_oA year ago yesterday we embarked on our journey to the ocean by taking swimming lessons. My best friend had a fear of the water which he overcame by getting in the pool. Today, he’s a confident swimmer who has in one year not only overcome his fear of the water but now eagerly looks forward to the next time he can get in. We went from the pool to snorkeling every weekend and finally getting our scuba diving certifications. Neither of us had spent any time in the ocean in nearly two decades and even then, we’d never go past the surf. Diving is a passion that changed our lives but most importantly, overcoming our fears helped us to accomplish dreams. We encourage you, no matter what it is, to overcome your fears and a whole new world will open up to you.

Below is a log of our first experiences in the water. These were written by me to a  friend in an email.  Perhaps in reading this you will find similarities to when you first began your ocean adventures. Or perhaps it will encourage you to take your first steps. Either way, if the ocean is calling, listen and immerse yourself with her. You won’t regret it.

5/8: We start our swim class next week and we’re really excited about it. Then on June 16th we are taking a free “try scuba diving” class at Sport Chalet. They provide you with all the equipment and it gives you the opportunity to see if it’s something you would want to do or not. I know we’re in, but this is going to be a great introduction until we can afford all of the supplies for diving. We’re both really, really excited about doing this.

5/22: I got to use fins for the first time. I’m in LOVE. I’m such a fish it’s ridiculous. I’m sick but swimming actually helped me feel better, too.

Tue 6/12: Today was our last swim class. We’re both sad. We really enjoyed being fish. But, the big accomplishment is that this class really boosted Mark’s confidence. He went from a comfort level of 3 in the deep water to a comfort level of 7. He swam out there all by himself today and did really well. I’m super proud of him. We may even take the next swim class they offer in a few weeks.

Sat 6/16: Discover Scuba – Thought I was going to die. Mark did great but was a bit scared at first, too. I had a strange reaction the first time I ducked my head under the water and took a breath – it was as if I’d swallowed a Frisbee and my throat jerked. Sort of freaked me out a bit. Then to top it off, I got water in my regulator and couldn’t get a breath. I had to surface with the DM, me signaling “Out of Air !” Guess I missed the part about purging your reg when water gets in there. I practiced once and we dove back in. Lessoned learned. Despite the two incidents, I love this and am going to conquer these fears! Can’t wait to get back in next month! [We wound up doing a total of 4 Discover Scuba sessions before we were certified.]

Sat 6/23/12: The beach was AWESOME! We actually wound up at La Jolla shores where all of the divers enter/exit the water. There were droves of them and we just sat on the wall for an hour watching in disbelief that they were going out into the waves with their equipment. Scary! We walked a little ways to the Marine Room and then back with our shoes off. I was freaked out over some sand bugs [mole crabs]. But it was so much fun to see the divers and to walk in the water. I’ve been trying to get Mark to do this for YEARS!!! We’re going again next Saturday and will probably actually go in this time.

6/27: Yep, we did have a good time at the beach last Saturday. This Saturday is the, “get wet more” day and we’re going in. Haha!! We swam at the pool yesterday and start our next swim class next Monday for two weeks. We went to a dive shop today and really liked the atmosphere and the helpfulness. We’re totally immersed in this stuff! We’re out of control!

6/30: Beach was FUN! But super cold. We had a good time playing in the waves and met some divers and saw a few from the shops. I’m definitely in my element here. We went past the breakers and were surprised that we could touch the ground. We couldn’t figure out why we didn’t do this when we were kids.

Tue 7/3: Someone we met today (scuba diver) told us that we should go hang out at the Shores for the fireworks. It’s never crowded there and everyone is about the swimming. Except that there is a 17′ great white sharing the waters right now. So, we’ll play it by ear.

7/5: We went to the Cove early yesterday morning and walked around to the sea wall and the tide pools. I haven’t been to the tide pools in years and years. A lot has changed and I can see why they are so persistent about “look, don’t touch.” I missed this place! We watched the divers and swimmers and all the people then headed back home before noon. Then we did what we always do now…learned more about scuba diving.

Fri 7/6: We’ve got our swim class tonight and then early tomorrow morning we’re going back to the Shores. Tomorrow is the day we stick our faces in the water AND open our eyes. I’m scared!

Sun 7/8: Yesterday at the beach was fun! It was really, really cold though. Usually the sun comes out at about 8:30 but it was still overcast by the time we left at 11-ish. I was really excited because we overheard some divers talking about how since the water was so flat, the stingrays were hanging out in the shallow areas. So, when we went in, we did the stingray shuffle and then I saw one zip past me! I have always wanted to see one since I was a kid and the water has either never been clear enough or they just weren’t around. But the visibility was really good so I got to see one. It was my highlight of the month. And when we put our faces in the water with our eyes open, it didn’t hurt at all. Now we are confident to do one of the required scuba exercises for certification, which is taking our masks off and replacing and clearing them.

7/14: Today we’re trying out our new fins in the pool. Tomorrow we’re going to the Shores again. Next Saturday we’re doing the scuba thing again and then back in the ocean on Sunday.

7/15: Went into the water at the shores today with our swim goggles. Cold! But on the way past the waves I stuck my head in the water and I saw my first fish! I was so excited that I yelled “fish” and I’m pretty sure that the scuba divers who were swimming past us must have thought I was crazy. Either that or they thought, “What would she do if she saw what we see?” Yay for my first fishy!

7/17: We were pretty excited to see fish on Sunday. I’m going to be out of control when I get deeper and actually see tons of fish and sea creatures. Mark says he’s going to get a scuba leash for me so I can’t go too far. hehehe

Tue 7/24: We did scuba diving at Sport Chalet on Saturday which went really well. We did a few things that were a little scary for us but we made it through. I’m proud of us both! Then on Sunday, we snorkeled with the leopard sharks and bat rays. We saw a giant jellyfish [black sea nettle] which Mark nearly ran into.

It was our first time out with our snorkel, fins and mask. Mark got a little scared when we first went out but I helped calm him down and reassured him that he can float. We rented 3 mm wet suits (YUCK!) because we get really cold out there so we were pretty buoyant. It was our first time going out where our feet didn’t touch the ground and though I didn’t mind it so much (probably too little fear for my own good), Mark was uncomfortable so we didn’t venture out too far. We had a lot of fun though.

Sun 7/29: We had a good time out yesterday. A friend came along with us for the first half of the day. Went to the Cove first (our first time there) and saw Garibaldi, sea lions and tons of other fish. It was beautiful to see the sea grass and other vegetation swaying in the current. I could have stayed there all day. Then we went to the Shores to see if we could see more sharks but we only saw a huge bat ray (still awesome!) because the visibility was horrible. Something was blooming which caused all of the water to turn yellow and murky. It was at the Cove too but the visibility was better there. We had also rented 7mm wetsuits so that gave us waaay more time in the water…which is why we were able to go to the Cove and the Shores. We hung out at the Shores until about 1pm and met some really cool scuba divers who had a lot of great tips for us.

If you’re reading this, thank you for making it this far! We spent the rest of August and September snorkeling every weekend. In August we took part in an in-water education and site orientation program for divers and snorkelers. We got knocked around a bit at one of the sites and had a fairly bad experience. This year our mission is to go back to the site and successfully swim the course without nearly drowning. By the end of September we were Open Water certified SCUBA divers (that’s a whole other story). Our passion runs deep. We are proud to be on this adventure.