Standing with my feet in the warm sand, looking over the horizon. Waves crashing over my feet, skimming over the surface on a boat. Of all these great experiences on the ocean's surface, my favorite still takes place beneath the water — scuba diving.
For me, my first (and favorite) scuba experience was during a dive trip to the Florida Keys. That first morning, we were pulsing with adrenaline. After loading our scuba gear onto the boat, we left the shop and rode to our destination. Our target dive spots were around 30 minutes away, so we had some time to rest and relax on the boat.
It was no different from a normal boat ride, but I still remember the little details: the smell of the ocean, the warm sea breeze, and the splash of the salt water from the boat hitting the waves. The only difference was the anticipation. Looking over the side of the boat, seeing the reflection of the sun coming off the waves, I knew. In a few short minutes, I would be under the water.
Once we reached the dive spot, everyone began to gear up. Within five minutes, everyone was suited up in wetsuits, BCDs (buoyancy compensator devices), goggles and fins. After getting in the water, we began our descent.
The trip to the ocean floor took only a few minutes, but the view was unforgettable. I was awestruck by the feeling of the water around me and the knowledge that I could stay under and breathe as if I were at the surface. The reality that we were underwater didn’t sink in until I saw a shipwreck emerge in the murky water.
One hundred and ten feet under the surface, I discovered a whole new world. Dozens of marine creatures made their home in the rusted, mangled hull of the ship. The experience felt surreal.
It’s like a movie. When you’re watching a movie, you feel separated from the action. When you’re diving and seeing all of this, it feels like you are the viewer and your mask is the screen. Because of our depth, we were only able to stay under for a short time before our air reached the point that marked our ascent.
Ascents must be slow to prevent decompression sickness, so we slowly climbed up the line to the boat. As the wreck disappeared, the reality of the experience set in. After climbing back onto the boat to head to the next dive spot, I had to sit and process. It is incredible to see something that you know from a new perspective. That new perspective has stayed with me to this day.
Scuba diving may sound ridiculous to do in Auburn, but there are ways to start if you are interested! Auburn University offers two-hour classes that will help you get certified on various levels. The classes through Auburn are offered and run with a local shop, Adventure Sports at the intersection of Gay Street and Glenn Avenue. The staff is more than happy to answer any questions and help you get started.
In the future when you’re looking for something new to do, your answer might be right in front of you. All you have to do is look at it differently — and be willing to get out there.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Rachel George Cleveland
Cameron moved quite a bit before being able to call Auburn home. Born in Kentucky, then moving to Texas, North Carolina, then back to Texas, it is safe to say he is quite familiar with being the new kid in town.
He enjoys everything life has to offer, specifically Game of Thrones, nights downtown and, well, talking. If you find him say hey, and he will say it back. You will know when you meet him, because you will probably hear him before you see him.