Born and grew by the sea
I grew up in Bataan, a province at the edge of mainland Luzon. Our house then was just a 10-minute walk (or so) away from the shoreline. Anytime we felt like hitting the sea during low tide, we could easily do so. Now you’d think that growing up near the coastline made me a good, if not great, swimmer. Sorry to disappoint, but I never learned how to swim.
Traveling for the last few years, I have had the chance to see a lot of beaches, locally and even abroad. But never in my entire life have I swam, let alone dived into the deep waters. I’d always ask the tour guide or operator how deep the water is. If they’d tell me that the depth is greater than my 5’8″ height, then it is automatic: I need a life vest and I would never be able to see up close whatever wonders there are underwater. [See my (awkward) photo below taken in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand in November of last year.]
It’s frustrating really. I never had the courage to try to learn how to do so. Not until recently.
Plunged deep into the water
I saw a friend’s video of his first open water skin diving experience in Apo Reef. I messaged him right away and asked how he has managed to learn how to dive like that. He told me that he took skin diving courses at the Seazoned Philippines. I talked to him about it, but seeing one friend skin dive was not enough to make my fear ebb away.
Days later, as if the universe really wants to push me to the water, a common friend of ours convinced (read: forced) me to take Seazoned City Dive classes with her. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to learn how to swim, dive, and be able to see the underwater world. But I’d also be lying if I’d claim that I wasn’t nervous at all even days before the class.
On the actual day of our session, I gulped and told myself: “Time to take the long overdue plunge.”
Seazoned Philippines’ City Dive Class
The session has two segments: theoretical discussion and in-water application. It was very educational but also fun and engaging, something that’s helped in relaxing my nerves big-time. All thanks to the instructors and fellow students (shout out to the Lost in the Philippines trio: Ed, Matt, and Ben!)
We started by introducing ourselves and I was relieved to find out that I am not the only non-swimmer in the group. The discussion was led by one of the founders and AIDA Freedive Instructor, Gen Abanilla.
She taught everyone the skin diving principles and techniques while putting high premium on safety measures. She left no important detail untouched and answered all our queries with so much patience.
Their trained instructors were also very accommodating and encouraging, making a non-swimmer like myself feel comfortable in deep waters in just a few minutes. Every time you’d go into the water, an instructor will dive with you to ensure your safety, to monitor your progress, to observe your movements, and even to help calm your nerves if needed. They also give you constant feedback to help you improve your skin diving skills.
Now I don’t wanna spoil and pre-empt what Seazoned could teach you, should you decide to enrol in their City Dive class. But to give you an overview of my experience, let me share the lessons I learned from Seazoned Philippines.
7 lessons I learned from Seazoned City Dive Class
1. It’s okay to be afraid – Fear is an emotion we can’t get ourselves away from, especially when it is your first time to dive a 20-feet deep pool. However, know that as human beings, we are very much capable of conquering our own fears no matter how deep our reasons may be. Remember that fear could be the only reason that keeps you away from fulfilling your dream, but there could be a gazillion reasons for you to muster enough courage and conquer what you initially are afraid of.
2. Take deep breaths – No matter what the situation is, be it before you skin dive or before you deliver a presentation at work, do not forget to take deep breaths. Our bodies and its reflexes are designed to breathe, but taking a deep one makes a whole lot of difference. It helps clear your mind of negative thoughts, relaxes your body and your heart rate, and gives you a better chance at conquering what’s ahead of you.
3. Know your limits – In this day and age, it’s common to hear the phrase: “Get out of your comfort zone!” The same is true and is encouraged when you take Seazoned’s skin diving lessons. However, know that when you skin dive, you mentally have to get out of your comfort zone while heeding your physical limits. Skin diving did not just help me go beyond my comfort zone but also led me to have a good sense of self-awareness and be able to listen to my body and mind all at the same time. Once you know your limits, it’ll be easier for you to identify what you can do to surpass them.
4. You can’t do it alone – I wouldn’t have conquered my fear and reached several feet deeper if not for the safety instructors and fellow students’ guidance and encouragement. Seazoned is also encouraging everyone to find a dive buddy for safety purposes. This made me think that everyone needs trustworthy buddy/ies to face whatever challenges that may come your way. Not only will they make everything easier, but they could also make every journey worth every second and effort.
5. We’re built to deal with pressure – We deal with all kinds of pressure everywhere. From the pressure underwater, of facing your boss, to pressure from daily challenges we encounter. However, know that both our minds and bodies could be trained to adapt to sudden changes in pressure. At times, all you need to do is to pause, equalize, then continue moving forward and beyond.
6. Keep calm, and dive on – Now you may think that keeping yourself calm is an easy-breezy task. For some, they may find it easy to calm their nerves but for most, it would take so much. However, one thing I learned from Seazoned is that panicking underwater (or in any situation) will not help you at all. Whenever you’re facing a seemingly difficult situation, you have to exert a conscious effort to make yourself calm.
7. Protect and preserve the planet – One thing that I’ve greatly appreciated during the City Dive class was when Seazoned emphasized to us the importance of protecting and preserving our planet. As would-be-skin-divers, we are in a unique position to be part of the world’s small percentage of people who could see the underwater world in its full glory. However, this opportunity comes with a huge responsibility to protect our marine resources the best way we can. Seazoned reminded us about the environmental issues the marine world is facing and is one of the organizations who’s actively promoting sustainable tourism practices aimed at conserving our marine resources.
From a non-swimmer to a skin diver
Yep, you read that right. I finally learned how to swim and dive. Although admittedly, I need more practice to polish my skin diving form and breath hold. But, I know I am slowly getting there.
I took Seazoned’s City Dive class, and two weeks after, I signed up for their practice session and I can’t help but feel really proud of my progress. Here’s a video from my first practice session:
I never thought I’d learn how to swim at the age of 27. But I am very much thankful that I finally took the plunge and that Seazoned has freed me from wearing a life-vest, giving me the confidence I need to enjoy the best experience any underwater world offers.
If you’re interested to enrol in their City Dive class, you can contact them via their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/seazonedph/. See you soon in one of their practice sessions!