I spent the weekend underwater - literally. I took the 'confined water' aka pool portion of a scuba certification class. The schedule was pretty intense: Friday 6:30 - 11:30 PM, Sat 7:45 AM - 12 noon, 7 PM - 11 PM, then Sunday 4 PM - 11:30 PM.
The time was aboout 1/2 classroom, 1/2 pool.
The first night the pool visibility was bad and I was bordering on panic most of the time even though we stayed in the shallow end on our knees for most of it, so you could see the surface right above you. The panic was completely unfounded - there was nothing wrong, it was just little voices saying 'go up, go up - you don't want to do this' HEY - I recognize those guys - slightly altered versions of the you can't write a book demons. I know better than to listen to them, but they show up at the WORST possible times...
Saturday went MUCH better even though by Saturday night I was coming unglued just from being so tired. I have always been good in a classroom situation and I am not incredibly patient with people who are slower so I was getting really antsy before we got in the pool. In the pool, the tables turned so to speak - I was one of the slowest ones to catch on. It almost always took me at leat two tries to be able to do the skills, and sometimes I needed serious additional explanation. This is normal for me with anything physical - it does not come naturally or easily. I always have to work harder than other people who might not be as book smart or even in as good condition physically. It's just the way it is - I don't like being at the back of the class, but my only other option is to not get to do any of these things.
Sunday I aced the final exam, but was still wrestling with my inability to clear my snorkel and mask. I made it through the pool part, but still need to work on some skills before I feel confident.
There was a 10-yr old kid in my class, and while he struggled a bit in the classroom, he was incredibly at ease in the water. It was impressive and humbling at the same time.
re: sharks. I was more afraid of them before I went to the class than after. Sharks are not aggressive. For the most part they are shy and will swim right by you, which is actually really cool if you think about it. They bite from below, so if you see one that seems interested in you, you can swim away along the bottom and be safe. Driving to the class on the highway under construction in the rain was much more dangerous than diving.
Next weekend we head out to the open water. It's supposed to be easier in many ways than being in the pool, except you need to deal with cold and current. I am looking forward to it because there should at least be something to see besides clumps of hair floating in the pool - yuk.
When E took scuba classes over 20 years ago, you had to take apart and dump your gear on the bottom of the pool, surface, take a breath, swim down and reconnect it all and put it back on underwater. We didn't have to do anything like that. Either the equipment is more reliable, or the odds of ever having to do that are so slim, it just doesn't make sense to freak people out by teaching it.
Today I am really sore and tired, but looking forward to next weekend : )