It makes sense that SCUBA Diving is a perishable skill. A perishable skill is basically a skill that needs to be consistently practiced and executed in order to maintain, or else it “perishes”. In other words, you begin to lose the skill. However, the more accustomed you are to a certain skill, the more you’ve practiced and learned, the harder it is for that skill to perish as a result. Muscle memory is what pushes a perishable skill towards “non perishable”, even though that can never truly be reached. One factor that makes muscle memory easier to achieve is whether or not you love what you’re doing. I can safely say I do.
It was the sophomore class’ first time back in the water since our week-long trip to the Bahamas in January of 2018. We had just come off of what was a rather long surface interval, around two months. We set foot onto Bushwick High School’s pool deck at 10am on a Saturday. As the familiar scent of chlorine is absorbed by my nostrils, I finished helping the team unload the tanks, and I went to the locker room to change.
After a warm up of a few pool laps, we start suiting up and setting up our kits. I begin. I test my air. I attach my BCD to my tank. I screw my regulator into the tank valve. I attach the Regulator’s inflator hose to the BCD. I test my second stage. Before I know it, I’m done. It takes me a moment to realize that I accomplished that task without having to struggle to remember how to accomplish it. Upon entering the pool, I’m thoroughly convinced my buoyancy will be horrendous. It’s been too long. I hope my buoyancy work in the Bahamas stuck with me. I descend with my buddy, and we begin to work through the usual obstacles set up at the bottom of the pool.
As I approach the first floating square, I prepare myself for my tank valve to get caught. I move through it, and continue to do so. I then prepare myself for my legs to get caught. Once again, I continue to glide through the water. Ecstatic, I maneuver myself through the rest of the obstacles. I twist and do cartwheels while consuming little air. I hover using breath control. I descend to the bottom, stare at the surface and blow bubble rings like Lenny taught me. I feel like I’ve come home after being away for some time.
Eventually it’s time to wrap up. I get out, clean gear, disassemble my kit, change, and load the van. Before leaving the pool deck, I look back at the clear, still water. I’m so happy to be practicing again.
While this isn’t some crazy story that you would initially think to share with someone when enlightening them about your diving career, this experience is very meaningful to me. It reminds me how grateful I am to be a student of the New York Harbor School and the Professional Diving program, and how much I love what I do. In addition, it also reminds me how far I’ve come since beginning this wondrous journey. I use experiences like this one to help track my progress, to see how much I remember and watch myself grow as diving becomes a bigger and bigger part of me.