(A wander over to the first part of this soggy tale is probably a good idea, if you haven’t already been there).
By the time I’d flipper-flopped my way out of the pool, strapped on a weight belt and completed one more backwards-walk into the water, the group had become accustomed to sitting on the bottom. Hubby and I sank down beside them. An odd experience in itself, to be honest. Kneeling on the bottom of a pool beside complete strangers. My mouthpiece jammed securely between my teeth, every breath a loud, rasping sound in my ears.
I tried to orientate myself by focusing on the instructor, whose face was largely covered by her mask. She began making hand signs, pointing first to her mask then to each of us in turn. Suddenly, and to my horror, she lifted it slightly, allowing water to flood in! Given my lifelong fear of water covering my face (even in the shower) I could feel my heartbeat take on a rapid drum beat. As we watched, her mask slowly emptied out again. I then realised she wanted us to follow suit.
Holy crap. How, what… panic raced through me as I watched the guy beside me take a stab at it. Seemed to work for him. Jesus H, I was next! My hands shaking with fear I took in a huge gulp of air and gingerly lifted the edge of my mask a fraction, praying for magical deliverance. Instantly a rush of cold water raced in, blinding my eyes. All rational thought vanished. It felt like I was drowning. I kicked for the surface and wrenched off my mask, treading water furiously.
A minute later she was there beside me, irritation lacing her features. “You are supposed to breathe out through your nose” she barked, “then the air will be pushed back out”. I couldn’t speak. “Come back down, we’ll try again” she urged. Back down I went.
Two minutes later I was again pushing for the surface, and this time the tears came as soon as I tried to speak. “I can’t do it!” I squealed, “I can’t do it!”.
“I think you need extra time with Hans” she sighed, gesturing for a young, blonde, very tall Adonis-like instructor to join us in the water. Relief flooded through me but he wasted no time, “Come, we go stand there” he said, his lithe, tanned body cutting powerfully through the water.
Stand? yeah right. By the time I reached him I was way out of my depth and had to tread water to stay afloat. For the next ten minutes we practised the art of filling my mask and emptying it while my legs cycled frantically underwater. Before long we’d both had enough.
“I’ve had enough” I gurgled up at him, “I want to get out”.
“Ok” said Hans, “why don’t you snorkel back to the shallow end and take a rest?”
Ah, snorkelling… I can do that I thought, popping in my mouthpiece before (tiredly) flopping onto my back! Needless to say with my first breath I slurped in a huge mouthful of water, and began to choke. Hans watched me from afar as I flailed around, spluttering… his face a study in curiosity.
By the time I’d splashed my way to the shallow end and lay gasping on the tiles it was clear to all that scuba diving was not going to be ‘my thing’. Time I stopped trying to be a mermaid and went back to what suited me best – a sport-free life!