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Breathing Underwater

The best thing in the world is laying on a white sandy beach and staring across clear blue water. So one year ago, mid-summer, my family and I took a trip to the exotic Cayman Islands. After many years of watching marine biologists on Discovery Channel and National Geography explore the depths of the ocean, surviving on only a tank of oxygen, I wanted to try it. I approached my family with this idea and everyone, except for my mom, were also intrigued by the idea of breathing underwater. In other words, scuba diving. I'm certain that I was the most interested by the idea, yet the most frightened.

On the third day of vacation, we hopped in our in our rented Suzuki and off the scuba diving center. The whole 30 minutes of the drive there were butterflies madly flapping their wings in my stomach. Instead of being positive and thinking how fun this adventure would be, the worst possible scenarios kept popping up in my mind. I soon came to realize that my hands and legs were slightly shaking. I couldn't tell if it was because of the bumpy car ride or if I was just that nervous.

Finally we pulled into a parking lot that was next to a small building surrounded by so many oxygen tanks. There also was a sidewalk leading to a small in ground pool. We were finally there. My brother and I quietly followed my dad into the building. We watched him sign a whole bunch of release papers, that made sure that the scuba center was not responsible for any injuries. That didn't calm my nerves at all. After the papers were signed, they led us outside to what appeared to be an outdoor picnic area. Since that was our first time scuba diving, they gave us a long, monotonous lecture on safety. I listened so closely; it feels like I could recite it word for word. The instructor then led us to the small pool where they taught us special skills. Once we were in, they strapped metal oxygen tanks to our backs. They weren't as heavy as I thought they might be. We then learned the safety procedures. Some were: How to clear our masks, what to do when our mouthpiece came out, and how to pop our ears. We all thankfully met standards on the tests so we were then free to go into the ocean.

The second my foot was out of the pool water, the weight of the oxygen tank consumed me. I trudged to the ladder that led into the warm Caribbean Sea. I took a second to watch the clear blue water move fluently under my feet. That was the time I could've backed out. I wanted to scuba dive; I wanted to jump, yet I was wincing at the thought of all the things that could go wrong. It was a split second decision. Do I do it? Or do I walk away and forget this ever happened? I took a deep breath, hoping it wouldn't be my last, and took one step. Just one step, and I plunged into the water alongside my brother and dad.

The instructor signaled us to get prepared, so we placed the rubber-tasting mouthpiece in our mouths, deflated our vests, and down we went. Farther, farther down we went towards the ocean floor. I no longer felt human, but as a part of the water. Farther and farther we went down. The feeling of dread that kept haunting me slowly began to wash away. Farther and farther we went. My eyes were amazed to see all the intricate and colorful fish swarming around us. It was as if time had stopped. I was alone in the world. The only living things were me and the fish. I tried to count them but lost count around 50. Only then did I realize how far down we really were. I was looking up at the surface like it was the sky. My attention was then brought back down to the amazing fish below. Grouper, trumpet fish, parrot fish, barracuda, tarpin, you name it, we saw it. All the procedures we learned like popping our ears every couple of feet became habit. I didn't even realize that the rest of my family were slowly rising to the surface. The 30 minutes we had underwater flashed before my eyes. My head broke the surface and I could, once more, breath through my nose. I climbed the ladder out of the water only to be greeted by the unpleasant feeling of a heavy metal tank on my back.

All in all I couldn't be happier that I chose to take a chance in life and jump in with both feet. Literally! There is no doubt in my mind that I would go scuba diving again. It was an experience of a lifetime and I'll never forget it.





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