My day with Jarrod, or how I was right all along . . .

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TSandM

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I fell in love with GUE diving eight years ago, and what seduced me was that what I saw people doing made diving more FUN, and I wanted to have fun with my diving. It took an extraordinary amount of work, because I'm not talented and the bar that was set was high, but I kept at it, and the harder I worked, the more fun I had. I've spent most of the last eight years trying to tell people that . . . and hearing from others that GUE diving isn't ABOUT having fun. That it's regimented and inflexible and miserably focused on drills and black dry suits.

Well, today I got to spend a day, on, off and in the water, with the man whose vision founded the organization. Jarrod Jablonski came out to visit GUE Seattle and glad-hand folks, and give a talk on the Mars exploration project. But most of all, for us, he DOVE with us . . . and I was lucky enough, on our second dive today off the Bandito charter boats, to land Jarrod as my dive buddy, in a team of two.

The site was Milepost 8, which is a drift dive in the Tacoma Narrows. Currents can be pretty strong there, but the dive was planned to go with them and enjoy them. I was, as you might imagine, INCREDIBLY nervous about diving with Mr. GUE himself; I was sure I had to be absolutely perfect. The first three minutes were miserable, until I turned around and saw Jarrod peering under a rock, stabilizing himself with a couple of fingers, and I thought, "Well, maybe not PERFECT." We went on to drift some nice structure with a lot of colorful sponges, and then, trying to avoid the current's desire to push us up into very shallow water, we ended up flying over an almost featureless bottom composed of uniform, round rocks. Except for the occasional starfish or heavily camouflaged sculpin, it was rather monotonous . . .

Until I looked at Jarrod, and found him doing barrel rolls without a scooter. I followed suit, and then tried the handspring maneuver Richard Jack did on his Agate Pass drift dive, and discovered you need enough current to push your feet on over when you do that, or you end up feet up and floundering, and looking stupid and trying to shrug your gear back into place without anyone noticing. Jarrod tactfully inspected a single kelp stalk while I shook myself back into order, and then swam over and presented his spread arms, fists clenched. I high-fived him, and then had an inspiration, and grabbed his left hand with my right, and did an elegant dancing spin, coming back to our original position, at which point I found my hands grasped, and myself bent backwards over a strong leading arm, as though we were tangoing and doing a graceful, deep dip. By this time, I was laughing hysterically, and Jarrod was grinning ear to ear.

We abandoned the dance and went back to flying, and the next thing I knew, Jarrod had removed his fins and had them on his hands and was swimming with them. (I have some video of this which, if I figure out how to process video, I will post.) Then he was upside-down and blowing bubble rings in 15 feet of water . . .

I can't remember when I have laughed so hard during a dive. This is what we go underwater for . . . for the pure joy of being free in three dimensions, to pursue a diligent and detailed critter hunt if the circumstances warrant it; to gather scientific data if that's the purpose of the dive; to document historical wrecks and answer questions that have lain unsolved for centuries . . . and sometimes, just to dance.

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JahJahwarrior

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This post has done more to convince me to become a GUE diver than anything else ever has. Amazing. If I had read this 6 years ago I might have an entirely different set of cards in my wallet.
 
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TSandM

TSandM

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I have been fortunate enough to meet and even dive with several members of the training council . . . and they're all like that. You don't make diving a huge part of your life unless you love it. I have watched Richard Lundgren's pink cherub cheeks and twinkling eyes, as he talked about the sonar pictures of the Mars (before they dove her). I have seen JP Bresser going crazy trying to video dolphins in 20 feet of water. I have spent literally hours poking into coral heads with Mark Messersmith, who, before he became a cave explorer, was a fish geek.

There is a tremendous amount of passion -- and joy -- in the people who run this agency.
 

boulderjohn

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Years ago I came up with a theory that I called the reduction funnel, the process by which well-thought out concepts are gradually reduced of their completeness as they are taught and retaught and retaught until they become a few shouted slogans that may totally contradict the original intent of the complete message. Those shouted slogans can acquire a rigidity and absoluteness that take on the effect of scripture. I first noted it in relation to concepts that I was required to teach in the school district in which I worked. Those concepts made no sense to me, so I researched them and found that they were a perversion of the full system, with its primary tenets completely contradicting what the full version taught. When I showed that to my superiors, they were clearly uncomfortable, but they said "that's what we teach here" and required me to teach it. (Fortunately, it was abandoned years ago.) I think that sort of thing happens in many, many cases.

Several years ago I volunteered to do the video for a DIR-based training session. I worked very hard to get the very best shooting angles to show the key features of what was happening. I did flips to get into the best position quickly, swam upside down--whatever it took to get the camera pointing in the right direction. When we did the film study that evening, the instructor critiqued the student performance, but his harshest criticism was directed at me. He could not help but notice how often I was out of horizontal trim while filming. He was not joking.
 
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TSandM

TSandM

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Jarrod said something to me about that, when we were talking about instruction. He said, "You create something, and people take it and make it their own, and reshape it . . . it's not something you can completely control or avoid." I got the very distinct feeling that he regrets the way some people adopt the rigorous training and high standards, and lose sight of the reason why they're there -- to make diving safer, and MORE FUN.
 

mer

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grinning from ear to ear while breathing from a regulator should be taught in Fundamentals :)
Good way to initiate the partial mask flood and clear portion of Basic 5!
 

GShockey

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Hi Lynne,

Sorry I wasn't able to make it down last weekend but we have some more fun things planned soon! :) Glad you had a lot of fun. I am consistently amazed at how many perceive us as "not having any fun" when we dive. I dive to have fun and certainly hope I can impart that in a class. Whether it is a cave or a deep wreck or a 20' critter dive, it is all just for the enjoyment of the freedom found in floating weightless and seeing things the majority of the world never will. As you go deeper and the risk increases, I think it behooves us to pay more attention to the details but ultimately, even those dives are about the enjoyment of it all. And even that kind of training can be fun! Remember you and Peter and I and juggling stage bottles in cove 2? :). Now even Peter had to admit that was fun...:). Thanks for your post. :)

best,

Guy
 
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