Ever since my accident in 1999, I have loved being in the water. There is something very freeing about moving around without boundaries or barriers. Over the last 15 years, I have spent tons of time in different pools, and I have even snorkeled in Maui, but I had always assumed that scuba diving was out of the question. Until I spent some time in the Therapeutic Recreation Department at Craig Hospital. They have teamed up with A-1 Scuba & Travel Aquatics Center to offer adaptive scuba adventures for Craig patients and alumni.
After my last appointment at Craig on Friday afternoon, I headed towards A-1. The owner, Scott, used to be a physical therapist at Craig, and he is passionate about their disabled diver program. I went down the elevator and met the staff before going into the classroom to learn about the equipment I would be using. My main instructor was Joanne, and she (and the rest of the staff) was absolutely amazing.
We used a lift to get me into the pool, and once I was in, we started putting on the equipment. I had been worried about getting in to the wetsuit, but once we were in the water, it wasn't bad at all. We also put on water shoes and knee pads to protect my skin from the floor and walls of the pool. I strapped in to the BC (buoyancy compensator) and air tank before locating my regulator.
We spent the next several minutes adjusting my mask, learning the hand motions we would use to communicate under water, going over the steps to clear your mask when it gets water in it, how to safely descend and surface, etc. before getting accustomed to breathing underwater in the shallow end. Once I was comfortable with these skills, we headed in to the deep end of the pool, and that's when the real fun began. They also have underwater speakers throughout the pool, so it is an awesome sensory experience.
I really can't fully explain what an amazing experience this was, so I am hoping the video helps you to better understand how much fun I had. If you are a person living with a disability, regardless of your level of injury, I encourage you to look into adaptive scuba diving- it will change your life!
Click here to see the video on my YouTube channel, and please subscribe while you are there!