Photos by Kotaro Tsujino
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, exhale! C’mon you can do it. Practice breathing through your mouth!
This was the first time I was given breathing lessons and I was finding it hard with the mask on my face, over two pounds weight tied to my waist and an oxygen tank strapped to my back.
Two dive instructors from the Aquaconnections dive shop checked our progress as they gave me and my three office mates Jeanette, Arnold and Andrew a crash course in scuba diving. I had wanted to try diving for a long time but always backed out at the thought that I would be required to learn how to swim first.
I had visions of taking Scuba Diving 101 and undergo hours of classroom instruction where we will be introduced into the different diving gear and their uses and be given time to practice wearing them on dry land before being launched into the water. I had tried snorkeling a couple of times in Davao and in Palau but snorkeling was different.
But there we were, doing a few minutes of underwater breathing exercises and before we knew it, our instructors were guiding us deeper beneath the huge waves, holding onto the ropes to stay together.
For first timers, we sure picked up a windy day where strong currents make diving difficult but we didn’t know that yet. W
e held on to the ropes as lifelines as we edged our way down into the deep. (well, not that deep at 8 feet, but for a non-swimmer like me, it sure was deep!)
Our instructors monitored us, checking if we were doing okay and gauging our breathing by the bubbles we made. We had to give them the “ok” signal with our hands from time to time.
I was exhilarated thinking I was actually scuba diving when suddenly, everything went dark and all I saw were strands of dark floating things covering my mask. I forgot to breathe through my mouth and I then remembered that I was a non-swimmer. What was I doing underwater when I can’t even float a meter’s distance? Panicking, I flailed my arms and tried to surface. A dive instructor immediately assisted me and pushed me to the surface where huge waves tossed me around. He told me to relax and turned me face up on the water as I took in huge gulps of air. I realized my hair had gone loose and covered my mask but after Ifixed my hair, I assured my instructor I was definitely going down again.
I forgot all kinds of fear when we reached our destination. Multi-colored fishes swam toward us and around a bed of corals we couldn’t help but reach out to touch them. Everything was just beautiful.
We stayed down for about 25 minutes before our dive instructors signaled us to go back. It was a first experience which just spurred my interest to go diving again.
Completing our scuba diving experience was photographer and diving instructor Kotaro Tsujino of Underwater Adventures who documented our first attempts at diving. Tsujino said he had been photographing and taking underwater video of divers for several years, including events like underwater weddings. He can be contacted at 670-322-0599 or email him at [email protected]
Our dive instructors from the Aquaconnections were Youme Sharry and Takehiro Fukuya but they have two other instructors—Tohru Narita and Donato Beside. You can visit www.saipan-aquaconnections.com or email them at [email protected] for more information.
Diving at Managaha Island is indeed an experience you would like to do again and again!
To get to Managaha Island, call Tasi Tours & Transportation Inc. at (670) 234-7148, fax (670) 235-7141 or email [email protected]