This year marks guest blogger, Alexandra Dimitriou’s, 10th anniversary as a PADI instructor. Her experiences teaching scuba diving, like all instructors, vary from the utterly awesome, to the downright terrible. In this post, she focuses on her favourite…
So what has been my favourite experience teaching scuba diving?
It has to be when I taught a very good friend of mine her PADI Open Water Diver. Jacquie was nervous, really nervous. Not in the – “I get claustrophobic in a mask” kind of nervous, but “I nearly drowned as a child and am absolutely terrified of water” kind of nervous. She came to me and told me that it was her dream to go away on a dive live-aboard to an exotic location with her partner (who just so happens to be a dive professional) for her birthday. She wanted to overcome her fears and share his passion for the ocean.
“Never teach friends or family!”
Is a guideline that I like to follow as the instructors’ role is so different to the friends’ one. My “instructor mode” is something that some friends may not be able to handle. Jacquie was different. She was scared, but her absolute determination made teaching her a joy. She struggled with everything at first. Her eyes were huge as soon as she had her head in the water. Her breathing was shallow and rapid. We spent at least half an hour just breathing; regulator just touching the surface, feet firmly planted on the floor and holding hands like we were hanging off a cliff. She was looking into my eyes and I tried to calm her with just my blinking.
Then it happened.
The switch that allowed her brain to start trusting the equipment. Her breathing became more controlled and we could slowly descend into less than a meter of water and start our training. Confined water was scary. She had watched the videos, completed all of her theory and had listened intently to the skills briefing– she knew what was coming. Knowing and doing were two different things. Each skill that I demonstrated saw the return of the wide eyes. The return of the shallow breathing. Each time this happened we simply held hands and looked into each other’s eyes. The good news was that each period of nerves became shorter and shorter.
When we debriefed I asked Jacquie how she felt. She told me that she had never experienced such a roller coaster of emotion; each skill that she mastered gave her an extreme mental high…but – her nerves set in again during the demonstration, in anticipation of the next skill. She was exhausted, happy, proud, and relieved to have completed the first step of something that had filled her with fear just 24 hours before. I assured her that when we went to open water she would find it easier. She looked at me with disbelief. I just nodded and told her – “Just wait and see”.