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Had some scary Open Water certification experiences this weekend. After a long four weekends of classroom, and pool training it was finally time for me to get certified this weekend. We all met at a place called Blue Hole in Santa Rosa NM. Its a 8o foot sinkhole with crystal clear waters that alot of people go to out here go to get their OW certification.
The first mishap happened on our first dive Saturday. We were about 40ft down were after we demonstrated our 7 basic skills we took a tour around the hole. I was cruising around enjoying myself when i decided to check my depth and see how much air i had used. When i grab my guage to look at it all of a sudden air starts spewing where the hose attaches to the SPG. I grab my instructors attention, and show him what was happening. He tried to fix it underwater but was unable to. I was quickly losing all my air! My SPG showed i had about 500 psi left. Instructor signaled everyone to start going up. I ended up having to air share with my instructor, and we went up to the surface after making a safety stop. When we got back up my air tank was completely dry. I must admit this was a little scary. Air sharing was something we had practiced in the pool, and here we were having a very real emergency where air sharing was a necessity. We replaced my regulator, and made 2 more dives Saturday without another incident. I really enjoyed myself after that one mishap.
The really terrifying incidents happened on Sunday. We went down again to about 30ft and practiced the skill where the instructor turns off your air, and you swim like crazy to the surface, and manually inflate your BC. The drill went well, and afterwards we all swam around the hole again at about 50ft. Another instructor had placed little plastic eggs on ledges in the wall in various locations for fun. So we all swam around Looking for these eggs. There were a couple of times when i tried to pick up an egg and ended up dropping them. The first time i dropped one i was able to swim down hard, and grab it before it fell to the bottom. The 2nd time i dropped one i swam down hard to try and get it but realized i was going too deep so i gave up, and just let it drop. I then came back up to where everyone else was. I felt exerted after that last sprint and was trying to continue swiming along with the group, but i just couldnt slow down my breathing after sprinting down to save that last egg. I started taking really big breaths, and i just couldnt seem to get enough air in my lungs. I started hypervenilating bad! I knew something was really wrong, and i needed to try to slow down my breathing, but despite my efforts i just couldnt catch my breath. It felt like a boa constrictor was wrapped around my chest, and squeezing the life outa me.
It was then that panic set in! I couldnt breathe, and i couldnt take it anymore! I seriously felt like i was going to die! I bolted to the surface as quick as i could! Nitrogeon be damned i had to breathe! When i got the surface i still was hypervenilating horribly but managed to inflate my bc and swim to the side. Some people rushed over and tried to help me. I felt like i was going to pass out. They helped me remove my equipment and that enabled me to breathe a little better. But then all this stuff started coming out of my lungs! I started coughing uncontrolably, and spitting out all this foamy pink tinged phlem. I think the pink tint must have been blood. My lungs felt raw. I wasnt congested so i dont know where all this stuff i was coughing up was coming from, but was sure coughing up alot! An instuctor who came up shortly after me took me back, and gave me O2 and after alot more coughing and hacking i started to feel better.
I still had some skills to complete in order to be certified, and since i was feeling better i went down to the water again to complete them. One of the skills was just having all my equipment on and snorkeling around the hole. I was feeling better until i got back in the water! I got about 10ft out, with my mask in the water,able to see where my trumatic experience had happened, and my lungs started feeling like that had been rubbed raw with sandpaper again. I knew i wasnt going to be able to make it around the hole and started breathing fast and shallow again. Before i knew it that boa constrictor had come back and was squeezing all the breath outa me! I couldnt catch my breath, was hypervenilating really bad, and panicking. My instructor came over to me and managed to calm me down, and slow down my breathing some. He took off my weight belt, and loosened up my BC to releave some of the pressure i felt around my chest. It was a real struggle but i managed to snorkel the rest of the way. I then managed to do 3 more short buddy tows. With 2 guys helping to keep me calm , and breathing slowly i struggled but still manged to complete my last skill of removing my BC at the surface, and putting it back on. I made it! I went through pure terror, and hell, but im now a certified scuba diver! Barely made it through, but mission was still accomplished! My lungs are still sore, but im not coughing like i was so hopefully ill be fine. It was quite the weekend!
I'm from Colorado and have done many dives at the blue hole.
I'm glad you're alright. Based on my experience, What you experienced after your panicked ascent sounds like dcs to me. I'm shocked that after this your instructor let you back into to the water.
I'm glad you're still having fun, and I'm no instructor, but this is not what it's all about.
Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. – H.L. Mencken
"Contrary to what most people say, the most dangerous animal in the world is not the lion or the tiger or even the elephant. It's a shark riding on an elephant's back, just trampling and eating everything they see.” - Jack Handy