Swim Central's Open Water Exposure: Batch 9

April 30, 2018

Conquer your fears, they say. Through this experience, I sure did, and I'm not only talking about my fear of deep waters.

And so there I was, awkwardly climbing down the rocks, late to the party.
I  had to go back to our van coz I forgot to bring my goggles. 😂

The Search For the "Treading Skill"
I only learned how to swim when I was already an adult. That means most of my life, I was afraid of pools and of the ocean. Luckily for the last half decade, I got to mingle with very adventurous people and through them I got to experience activities I never thought I would venture into: canyoneering, snorkeling, and white-water rafting to name a few. I enjoyed these activities but only half-heartedly, because the fear of getting drowned was always there, even if I was already wearing a life vest. 

Fast forward to a few years, I went and took basic swimming lessons. After that, I was already comfortable being in the water. I can now do floating with ease and even do (a few 😅) freestyle strokes if I wanted to. But I felt there's still something missing with my swimming "skillset" -- I still didn't know how to tread in deep waters.

And that's where Swim Central came in, a swimming school that I've known through word of mouth. I found out that two of my colleagues were able to learn how to tread through this school. It's perfect because they actually have a separate class if you only want to learn how to tread in deep waters called Survival Swimming Classes. Very aptly named, right? I honestly believe that treading is one of the critical skills to have if you want to survive in the waters. Because I already took basic swimming lessons (in another school), I opted to get the survival classes. Through coach Carlo (to whom I owe my treading skills 😊), I learned that Swim Central has this activity called Open Water Exposure (OWE) wherein the students, together with the coaches, go to the beach to put their newly-learned swimming skills to the test! The activity not only involves swimming in the open waters of the ocean... it also involves cliff diving! I felt intimidated when coach Carlo was telling me this, but I was curious to join. Fortunately, Swim Central scheduled activities on dates that matched my schedule. With crossed fingers, I went ahead and booked my OWE slot.

Here we go. It's OWE Day!
And so I braved the day of our OWE. We all met up in the wee hours of the morning in a pre-selected location by the organizers. Inside 2 vans, our OWE batch began our ~2 hour travel to the venue of our water activities - Tali Beach in Nasugbu, Batangas!  
view from the rest house
We arrived and stayed in a rest house that Swim Central had rented for us. It even had a pool inside! After settling down, the coaches gathered us in the living room for the briefing. The students were grouped and assigned to a coach. After delivering some instructions (and us signing waivers 😱) we changed to our swimming attires to begin our activities!

the resthouse's pool, wherein we chilled and chatted in between beach activities

Touring around the Beaches
We all rode our vans again and went around the different shores along Tali where people could enjoy the beach.

By the way, Swim Central also has a coach assigned as the official photographer (shout out to coach Macky!) and most of the photos here are credits to him. 👍😁

beautiful view near the Tali cliff
The Dreaded Dive
So our first activity was jumping into the waters, and there are 3 spots (with varying heights) to do this along the cliff. Actually I was excited to plunge into the waters because I was already feeling sweaty in my rashguard 😂, but still at the same time I was anxious because I didn't know if I still knew how to tread. You see, I took my survival classes months ago and I have never put it into practice, not even once.

the OWE group surveying the waters... and the cliff 😂
the "before" shot
Our coaches instructed us to jump when we were ready. With a rapid heart beat, I took my turn, taking the leap from the lowest jumping spot of the cliff. I plunged into the water, feeling the freshness of the sea. After a few seconds underwater, as I started to float upwards, I looked up and prepared to tread. 

the jump
My head resurfaced and as I gasped for air, I started to do the motions of the hands and legs according to what I learned from the survival sessions. And surprisingly, it felt effortless for me. I was floating! And I didn't feel any panic! 😁🎉🎉🎉*hurray* Even the coaches were commenting how relaxed I was treading in the water. I don't know, I just felt calm? (hey maybe those meditation sessions also helped!). 

I felt so proud of myself. 😭 As I happily treaded in the water, I cheered my other OWE batchmates as they also took their turn to jump off the cliff. As we plunged and resurfaced from the water, I'm sure we all felt that same vibrant and accomplished feeling. 😊

We took turns jumping from the other two spots, and it just felt better and more exciting -- the higher the better! #adrenalinerushkickedin

Hey that's me! Look just how relaxed I look. 😇

Free Diving Lessons: The Beta Phase
A few hours after, we returned to the rest house to grab some lunch. After a refreshing swim, nothing beats food with warm soup, and we had sinigang! I really enjoyed the food they prepared for us. 

After the sumptuous lunch, we had a short session on the basics of free diving. This is a course that Swim Central will be launching soon, and they are just introducing it to their students first. 

Through the breathing exercises and techniques they taught us, I was able to hold my breath underwater for 1m45s! I was amazed that I did that. Now I was curious if  I would actually do well in free diving. I know I have difficulties sinking (even in the pool, my friends need to push me downwards when I try to dive, but I still float 😂).

From Strangers To Friends
Aside from the waters, I faced my fear of mingling with strangers and socializing with them. I'm no social butterfly. Since I didn't know a single person in this trip, I was worried I'd be an outcast. However I later learned that you'll only be one if you let yourself be one.

Even though I was feeling anxious, I braved myself to start conversations and to initiate the talk. It came out well. All of them were very kind and accommodating. 😊

Our group had that bright and cheerful vibe. Maybe it was all because we all achieved something -- a skill that will forever change our lives. 💗

group 2 c/o coach Maiko!

With the SC coaches

And that friends, was how I was able to conquer my fears. I felt very fulfilled that day. I'm so glad I was able to join this OWE!

Thanks to all the coaches for taking care of us, and for guiding us to find the light leading to the happiness and enjoyment of swimming!

Skills unlocked! #levelup


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