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Snorkeling Despite a Fear of Water

Posted Oct 19 2007 1:48pm

When we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii, my husband and I did the typical touristy stuff, which included snorkeling. Seems pretty tame to most people, but it was a huuuuge deal to me because of a persistent fear of the water (particularly a large, stormy entity like the ocean). It's kinda pathetic. I can swim (well, barely) but before our trip, I was totally clueless about basics like treading water and even (gasp!) holding my breath underwater for more than 10 seconds. So from the very beginning of our honeymoon, my husband took me under his wing and decided that he was going to get me accustomed to swimming, because come hell or high water (no pun intended), we were going to go snorkeling together. The idea of being in 40-60 feet of ocean water, along with the unpredictable entities that populate the sea, was too much for me--it made me break out in a cold sweat, just thinking about it. I mean, what if I drowned? I'd heard that it was possible to drown in your own bathtub--for an unskilled coward like me, was venturing out into uncharted (by me) territory the wisest decision?

After a failed attempt at kayaking (in which we tipped over the kayak and I found myself holding onto the boat for dear life) and several aborted attempts to go out into the ocean, I found myself getting tired of one thing--the fear that I'd imbued the whole swimming enterprise with. I saw children and adults of all ages splashing away and having a fine time in the water, so why couldn't I? Was my fear really so paralyzing that I couldn't do what so many other people do without even thinking?

As the days passed, I became more and more confident about being in the water. Having a four-foot pool at the condo we were renting was helpful as far as getting a non-threatening intro to being in water for prolonged periods. Then we got some snorkeling gear and headed out to the ocean. I always made sure my husband went in first to make sure wherever we went wasn't too deep.

Getting used to the claustrophobic feeling of having snorkeling gear was a little hard at first, especially because I was so paranoid I had to keep popping my head up to make sure we weren't too far from shore. Also, since the water we were in was more shallow, I scraped myself on coral reefs a lot in my haste to stand up in the water.

On the last day of our honeymoon, we finally took the big plunge...into 40 feet of water. We basically took a catamaran cruise that led us to the picturesque north shore of the island. My stomach was in knots the entire way there, which the choppy journey and my penchant for sea-sickness didn't help. Even though I knew my husband would be right by my side, and despite his assurances that there was no way I'd drown, all these crazy ideas kept racing through my mind. What if I couldn't tread water? What if I got water in my mask and drowned? It was driving me crazy to the point that I just wanted to get the damn activity over with.

But what do you know? I actually had FUN. Sure, I was the last person in the water, and it took a little coaxing on my husband's part, but it was such a liberating thing to be floating face down, with yards and yards of water below me. I felt like a goldfish in a ginormous tank. I actually ended up staying out in the water way longer than anybody else (and didn't have a problem treading it either). In conclusion, I had one of those warm fuzzy moments where I got to bask in the knowledge that I did something that scared the bejeezus out of me. On to the next physical challenge!

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