Yes! Kate and I have been seazoned.
What is Seazoned anyway?
It is where you will learn how to skin dive. Skin Diving is like snorkeling, but the difference is that you dive below the surface when you see a clown fish or something as interesting as christmas tree worms, I’ve seen some in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. This activity is done leisurely in open water. Free Diving is a little different. It is usually done as a sport and it requires more time under the surface as possible.
Why city dive?
If you know me personally, you would know that I always go to the beach and I love to snorkel. It hasn’t been that long since I let go of a life vest when snorkeling. My friends encouraged me to do that and were very supportive. When I first did it at Palawan, I knew they had my back. They oversaw where I was exploring and would always guide me in the open water. But I knew it wasn’t enough. I need to get over my fear of diving deeper. So when Kate invited me to join Batch 72, I said Yes!
What We’ve Learned
- Choosing the right equipment. The mask, snorkel tube, and fins are different when skin diving. If this activity is something that you will do for a long time, they suggested on investing on the right equipment. It may be quite expensive, specially the long fins, but it should be worth the investment.
- Proper breathing. There are techniques in proper breathing before diving under the surface. You need to do the relaxation breathing, which is breathing through your diaphragm for 2-minutes, then taking your final exhale, and then taking a full exhale. Once you feel a contraction in your lungs to breathe, the more you want to come up for air. During this exercise in the classroom, I can only hold my breath for less than a minute, but when I did this in the pool, I was able to hold my breath for more than a minute. Wow!
- Equalization. The deeper you go under water, the more pressure your body will feel. To relieve the pressure, you need to equalize. If you’ve been riding airplanes, you will feel this pressure in your ears. To relieve the pressure, you usually chew gum or swallow, but under water, we pinch our nose and act as if we’re blowing our nose. During the sessions in the water, I found out that I can dive as deep as 18-ft, lower than that, I felt intense pain in my ears. But after a few tries, it did not hurt anymore.
- Safety.Never dive alone. If you do, you might die. Seriously.
- Dive with a buddy who knows how to rescue. Make sure you choose a buddy that will never let go and knows how to revive you.
- Never hyperventilate. When you do, you don’t take in oxygen. You’re just tricking yourself that you are, but you will die when you do this. So don’t!
- One up, one down. You and your buddy should take turns going down the surface. This allows one person on the surface to watch over you while you explore deeper and vice versa. In case something happens, your buddy can rescue you.
- Never force equalize. When you’re equalizing, do it gently. If you force it, you might end up with busted ears, and nobody wants that.
- Remove snorkel during ascent/descent. Since you will be holding your breath underwater, the snorkel is no use. And in case a jellyfish decided to enter your snorkel, it will not enter your mouth!
- Use dive buoy or markers. When you are in the open sea and underwater, boats that pass by cannot see you. Unless you have a marker, they will not avoid the area where you are skin diving. This prevents accidents from happening, like being decapitated. Remember that.
- Be environmentally friendly! While skin diving, just look and don’t touch. Do not chase or harass aquatic life. Let’s not shove our GoPros on them. How would you feel if people does that to you? Huh?! Every traveler should know LNT (Leave No Trace), do not remove or collect anything! To be on the safe side, always pay attention to your surrounding. If you see trash, collect them and dispose properly.
Our Final Thoughts
My mother taught me how to swim. I’ve never had proper lessons, I just swam by instinct in water. The experience of having the basic training with Seazoned made me realize that I actually had the skill, I was just a little scared to do it. Seazoned gave my confidence a boost. I know it’s a life skill that is worth investing on. I am so glad that Kate dragged me into signing up for a lesson. And it’s kind of funny how we both were feeling lazy that morning because of the rain, but we both dragged ourselves out of bed because we didn’t want to disappoint each other.
At Seazoned, safety is priority. We were never left on our own. The safety divers made me feel secure and more confident to do all the activities. I just felt a little disappointed with myself because I got tired during the duck dive lesson. I was sick prior to our session and I didn’t have enough sleep the night before. By that time, the pressure under water got me little disoriented, but Joey, our safety diver, was always there for support. I never felt afraid that I will drown. She was very supportive during all the lessons and was quick to compliment or point out things that we can improve on. After my last duck dive, I swam towards the shallow end and my leg began to cramp. Joey was there to help relieve the pain as well as my dive buddy.
Overall, learning the basics from Seazoned is one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. Starting the year right, yeah? Kate and I will be joining their practice sessions this month. We know we’re in good hands with Seazoned!
I’m terrified of deep water. I’ve taken swimming classes but I’m still not confident about my swimming skills. I’m scared of swimming in the open sea without any floating devices for me to hold on to. I enjoy going to the beach a lot, and I just thought it was just time to face that fear once and for all.
A friend mentioned someone offering a class for skin diving, so I researched and found Seazoned on facebook. I subscribed and checked out their schedule, I roped in Dre, asked if she wanted to take the class with me. She agreed and we booked our slots about a month or so in advance and paid our reservation right away (slots quickly gets filled).
On the day of the class, it was cold and raining, I almost wanted to just stay in my comfy bed and sleep, reservation fee be damned (okay, in truth maybe I was just scared!). But I didn’t want to disappoint Dre, we’ve both been looking forward to it. So I got up, prepared and met Dre for lunch before going to class.
I didn’t know what I was expecting, but the instructors were very helpful and understanding of the student’s fear. It turns out it’s not just me, a lot of people taking the class had the same fears too. There was a time devoted for just classroom lecture about the basics and some breathing practice too.
I learned that the key to skin diving is to relax! The breathing technique they taught us was to help us relax, I’m surprised to learn (I don’t know why) that it was the same breathing technique that they do in yoga. It does work, when I tried to practice in the classroom I do feel more relaxed after doing it. In the water it also helped calmed me down a bit, but I was really anxious and really cold. Despite me shivering my ass off in the water, I did learn a lot. It was a very safe learning environment, there were safety swimmers around aside from the instructors. The instructors really pay attention to what you are doing and gives feedback about the things you can improve on. They work on your pace, and carefully observe what you do.
So, am I really good at skin diving now? No, not at all, but I’m better than I was before. It was just one session, it’s unrealistic to expect that. Thanks to the instructors though, I know what I need to work on. I still need more practice, I need to learn to really relax, get my fear and my breathing under control. I may not have completely gotten rid of my fear of deep water yet, but I’m slowly eating away at it, and it sure feels good!
Do you want to learn skin diving, too?
Group Photo by Rhett