Learning to SCUBA Dive, Getting Certified, Last Dive
November 12, 2021
For this memory, I take you back to 1975. I was a senior in high school when NAUI, the National Association of Underwater Instructors, offered a course in scuba diving at our high school. There were probably a dozen kids that took the course, which began in our school swimming pool.
My first few attempts at breathing with a mask were difficult for me. I felt like I couldn't get enough air and was suffocating. That was until the instructor pointed out that I needed to exhale if I wanted to inhale more air. Yes, it happened that I was panicking because I had inhaled all the air I could and had forgotten to exhale. Once that hurdle was over, breathing with scuba gear became almost second nature.
Each student was assigned a "buddy" to learn with,and my buddy ended up being a girl whom I had had a crush on in junior high school. As such, I was a bit uncomfortable around her, especially when we had to learn "buddy breathing." Buddy breathing was where both buddies would share a single regulator, so in the event of an underwater emergency where if one person ran out of air the second could share their regulator with until they could both reach the surface. In retrospect it seems like it should have been awkward buddy breathing with a girl to whom I felt an attraction, but I digress.
We learned how to size and wear wet suits, fins and weights, how to use personal flotation devices, how to clear our masks and keep them from fogging up, and how to use snorkles properly. We learned how to propel ourselves about underwater and how to acheive neutral bouancy - something that is essential if you hope to enjoy a dive and not have to struggle to keep balanced.
After a couple of weeks of in-pool learning time, the class took a field trip to a beach near San Diego and we had our very first "real" scuba diving trip. Then it was time for our certification dive, where we officially graduated from the class with our NAUI Scuba Diving Certificate and card, which allowed us to actually rent or purchase diving gear and enjoy the world of scuba diving in our future. The class took a celebratory dive trip to Santa Catalina Island... I wish I could re-live this whole series of events, because that's the last time I ever went scuba diving. Pretty sure my certificate card, even if I could find it, is no longer valid.
Oh, and the girl? We were never more than just friends.