How to swim with sharks without getting your hair wet

Originally published on Kate Says Stuff

AKA how to scare yourself silly in just one hour.

I had a really full on time last week. We had appointments, the Supertrucker had surgery on his ankle and it was just general one of those crazy ones that you have sometimes. Which was really handy because up until Thursday night I managed to kind of forget that on Friday I would be GETTING IN A GIANT FISHTANK WITH SHARKS AND STINGRAYS.

Caps totally justified methinks. Because on the way to the city on Friday I was freaking out altogether, on the verge of throwing up with nerves. I brought my big kids along for the adventure (and to prove that despite their comments to the contrary I am a very cool Mum). My Big Boy helpfully read to me about how to fend off a shark attack from his animal dictionary on the way in. Yeah. Thanks mate.

Because I am a rubbish city driver we were running horrifically late, which did nothing to soothe my jangled nerves. I literally dumped my kids and hoped that my sister would find them (she did, don’t worry) and bolted in to the briefing room at Dive Headquarters to learn all the hand signals. Nifty things like ‘abort dive’ and ‘no air’. Good to know, but I’d prefer not to need to know, you know?

I had a little bit of time before my dive so hung out with my sister, bigs and nephews at the aquarium trying not to think too much about large wet animals with big teeth. I looked a bit like this:

See how I’m trying to hide my nerves by being silly, and not really succeeding?

Time flies when you don’t really want it to, so I headed to the meeting point to get suited up in the ubersexy dive gear. I was madly trying to remember all the signs and signals and which fish was what and all that jazz but my mind was a blur.

I started down the ladder and a few steps down the 35kg helmet was lowered by hoist onto my shoulders. The whole gig works by air pressure… the helmet doesn’t attach to the suit at all, just rests atop your shoulders and you breathe as you would on dry land. For the record, when you talk to yourself in the helmet no one can hear you. Actually you can barely hear yourself over the rush of the air. It is extremely weird.

And then this happened.

Why yes, I did get in a tank with this friendly face.

Finding my feet.

Notes to my big boy and girl. It was SO weird being able to see all the people out there watching me. Like being in a fishtank or something. Oh wait…

Those rays were HUGE!

These little ones loved the bubbles and kept pecking at me!

I have only on word to describe the entire experience… surreal. From the moment I got the the tank floor I was just astounded at it all. No time to feel scared or stressed, because the fish, sharks and rays were just so amazing as they danced past me so gracefully. I was down there for twenty minutes but it felt like two.

I am SO grateful to RedBalloon for this opportunity. It isn’t something I would ever do for myself, but my gosh it was just incredible and I felt like wonderwoman afterwards!

If you are stuck for a Christmas gift for someone you love (or someone you’d like to scare the pants off, your choice) then this is the one.

If you prefer to get your kicks without getting wet, RedBalloon have a plethora of Christmas gift ideas for everyone, from the thrillseekers to the scaredy cats.

And if you want proof that this stuff is what great memories are made of, I’ll leave you with this:

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