I exhale slowly, cautiously. My face dips below the surface of the lake. I blow gently out of my nose, wiggle my jaw back and forth. I slowly descend, the visibility is low.

Cautiously, I inhale. My regulator delivers a steady stream of cool, dry air. I pause for a moment at about 5 meters, wiggle my jaw some more to help clear my ears. A fish swims past me in the murk of the lake, and pauses to stare at this foreign invader. We stare at each other for a moment, then I continue to descend. Slowly, carefully, without panic or jerky motions. I am soon kneeling on the underwater platform, facing the instructor.

My eyes grow wide. I am breathing underwater for the first time in open water.


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