The equipment exchange.
I wasn’t ready when Georgia said okay now, you’re doing it.
I didn’t even know what the task entailed—I understood that it involved exchanging equipment, but I did not realize the breathing aspect. The challenge.
There would be only one regulator, to share.
Between two of us.
I think I began with a sense false of confidence—a false sense that this would be easy and everything would be okay; no need for planning, or worrying, or anxiety.
Because that’s what Georgia said, in a way.
Just do it, she said.
So Carys and I, divemaster trainees, didn’t make an elaborate plan.
When one person needs the regulator, take it.
Fins, BCD, mask.
^^ that was our plan. Our elaborate plan. For some reason my mind could fathom more than this– I didn’t want to overthink it. I didn’t want to think about that fact that my oxygen, and the air in my lungs, depended on someone else.
I would have to seriously rely on someone else.
And I would trust Carys as much or more than anyone else.. So I did. I tried. I went into the exercise with a calm mind, knowing that one way or another, that oxygen would make its way to me.
And it did.
And for her, mostly.
But the trouble was I could feel the oxygen depleting—little, barely, empty, gone– starving for oxygen. Then ask for the regulator. But she wasn’t ready—her brain and lungs hadn’t completely absorbed the air. So while she soaked it in, I became mentally fuzzy, and vice versa. And the fuzziness, and depletion, gradually increased our heartbeat—our anxiety.
In the end, we weren’t in the mental state for the equipment exchange.
So naturally, during the next day in the pool with Pat—surprise. Georgia had scheduled Round Two.
I thanked God for the surprise format; if I had known this was coming, I would’ve bubbled and boiled with anxiety, and a nervous stomach ache. But finding out last minute saved me. Saved my nerves. Because in the end, whether I was anxious for 10 hours, or 10 minutes—it wouldn’t make a difference in this exercise.
For the second time around, I learned.
Actually develop a semi-elaborate plan.
So Pat and I were more specific—
We exchanged the regulator every two breaths.
We began with fins, the easiest—an ease into partner breathing.
Next, the mask—a challenge, to get it out of the way.
Last, the BCD—because it’s difficult to do anything with a BCD 3x not your size. Left arm out first to avoid regulator entanglement, and then right arm in.
It was a great plan, and it worked. Because I could look into his eyes, and sense the calm beneath the mask. A true sense of confidence. And I knew, that in two breaths time, my turn would come. And it always did.