Today I had my first closed water dive on my way to becoming open water scuba certified. It was pretty sweet. I've been in water pretty much my whole life, from my grandpa's boat when I was a kid to various swim clubs and teams throughout middle and high school. Swimming comes as second nature to me as breathing, which actually makes learning to scuba dive kind of difficult. You have to unlearn a few of the deeply ingrained skills you've been using for years, like holding your breath or breathing out through your nose when you're underwater. Overcoming those instincts can be stressful at first.
I did really well for the most part, except on the last two of the three mask clearing exercises. Exercise one is clearing a partially flooded mask where you go under, breathing with your regulator, and lift up the corners of your mask and let it fill 1/3 of the way with water. Then you take a deep breath through your mouth with your regulator and exhale forcefully through your nose. The bubbles in your mask force the water out. I did great on that one. The other two - clearing a fully flooded mask and taking off/replacing your mask while underwater - required me to close my eyes, since I wear contacts, and at that point I started to panic a bit. A small, visceral, reptilian portion of my brain started screaming the second my eyes were closed under water. Took me by surprise, actually, since I wasn't anticipating any of the exercises to actually scare me. I still completed them on the first try, but the dive instructor could tell that I didn't like it one bit and told me we'd practice them again next time to familiarize me with them and get me to a point where I'm comfortable doing them. I think I'll do better next time since I won't be doing them for the first time just minutes after taking my first breath underwater.
I've never had any interest or desire to scuba dive personally. My husband had a particularly bad experience with a horrible diving partner, though, and since I'm a control freak to the 1,000th degree and was losing my mind waiting over fifteen minutes for him to reemerge after everyone else had arrived back on the boat and felt completely powerless to do anything about it, I decided that it wasn't so much about want and more about needing peace of mind. If I'm down there with him, some negligent asshole can't kill him. After getting down here and seeing how gorgeous the reefs are, my interest has piqued slightly. I still think I prefer snorkeling to diving, but we'll see once I actually go out on a dive.