I had never been in the ocean before I came travelling to Thailand. I took my first steps in the sea in Phuket and went snorkelling in Koh Phi Phi and found it really cool but I still felt a bit nervous in the water. So when I came to Koh Tao, where the diving is world renowned and the excitement of the island was all based on the amazing underwater life, I thought “can I really miss out on this opportunity?”
I plucked up the courage to try scuba diving despite having a strong fear of the ocean. I signed up to the open water course and met my instructor Nik. He seemed really cool and made me feel more confident about the course. Our learning groups were small so we had nearly one on one tuition. They took me through the skills and safety procedures in the pool, which went relatively smoothly, maybe because I could just stand up if I had a problem.
So the day of my first dive in the ocean came and I was so nervous I felt sick. This was made even worse when I got on the boat and the steady rocking of the waves made my stomach feel very queezy. We geared up and did our buddy checks and then lined up to stride off the boat, my legs shaking a little as I stepped off the side and entered the water. I inflated my BCD and gave the captain an “ok” and we made our way to the buoy line. When we were all ready, Nik gave the signal to descend so I emptied my BCD and my head sunk below the ocean surface.
It’s such a weird feeling to be able to breathe underwater. It’s a feeling that takes a few goes to get used to but it is also an amazing thing to experience. We descended to 12 metres and rested at the bottom, equalising on the way down. I was scared to do the skills so far down but I had to complete them to finish the course. We all took it in turns to demonstrate the skills and I managed to do most of them quite easily, having Nik and our other instructors demonstrate before us and then we copied.
It was when it came to the full mask flooding when I had a bit of a problem. Like before, Nik demonstrated and then signalled to me that it was my turn. I started to flood my mask and suddenly panicked because some water came through my nose into my mouth. I started hyperventilating, taking in more water through my nose and I signalled to Nik that I wanted to go up. He tapped me on my mask and signalled to look at him and breathe slowly. I tried to calm my breathing but still wanted to go up. Nik continued to calm me down, and re ran through the mask flooding skill, and finally I managed to clear the water from my mask.
Because I panicked whilst doing the skill, I had to do it again which I was petrified to try again after my first attempt. Nik took me to one side away from the group and got me to look around, look at the fish and the coral, showing me the reason I was learning to dive. He was right, “I have to try and finish this” I thought to myself, and I was a lot more comfortable with Nik, knowing that if I panicked he could help me. I tried the skill again and I nailed it straight away. I gave Nik a high five and we finished the dive and I passed the course! I even went on to do my advanced course, and now I leisure dive whenever I can. Im so glad that I managed to overcome my fear and now I can dive up to 30 metres anywhere around the world, and I’m looking forward to diving in all different places!
‘Overcoming my Fear of the Ocean’ was written by guest blogger Leila.. Thanks for sharing your story with DiveCompare.com!