Finding Out What’s Down There

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Armando (left) and Gary worked together to develop snorkeling skills.

Armando (left) and Gary worked together to develop snorkeling skills.

Using brand new snorkel gear, six children and young adults from three families got their very first look at what’s under all that water. This new education effort of Friends of Cozumel was tested in the pool of FOC supporters Mike and Hettie. Once participant skills are refined, they’ll be ready to try snorkeling in the ocean.

Susan (right) helps Alondra with her fins.

Susan (right) helps Lucia with her fins.

Being able to snorkel seems like an essential skill when living in a place surrounded by the sea, but many Cozumel residents don’t have access to the equipment or instruction. Thanks to the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, that problem has been addressed. NABS recently made a wonderful donation to FOC: 10 sets of masks, fins, snorkels and the additional funding to purchase safety vests from a local vendor. They also developed bi-lingual teaching materials on laminated cards. In addition, Cozumel Scuba Repair donated 12 super small masks to the FOC program so that even the youngest child will have an opportunity to see what’s under the water.

FOC volunteers helped participants put on their gear, gave an orientation and encouraged them in the pool.

Once everyone got comfortable, the pool turned into a mass of churning fins and shouts of joy.

Phyllis (left) helps Lupe get used to putting her face in the water

Phyllis (left) helps Lupe get used to putting her face in the water

Larry gave an orientation to snorkeling skills--all in Spanish. Bueno!

Larry (right) gave an orientation to snorkeling skills–all in Spanish. Bueno!

“Es hermoso,” said Tanya, aged 15. “Se siente maravilloso” (It’s beautiful. It feels marvelous.)

Neither of the two youngest participants had ever put their faces in the water. Karen, a member of the FOC leadership team, worked with nine-year-old Lucia.

“She had never had the opportunity to swim, but suddenly she was splashing across the pool,” Karen said. “You could just see her confidence grow. What a change.”

Armando, age 12, wore a big smile after his pool experience. He proved to be an expert at finding and picking up toys put on the pool bottom by the FOC volunteers.

“I’m able to see below the water,” he said. “And now I’ll be able to see below the sea. Thank you. Thank you.” ~ Phyllis from Nebraska

Thanks to the Nat. Assoc. of Black Scuba Divers for donating snorkel equipment.

Thanks to the Nat. Assoc. of Black Scuba Divers for donating snorkel equipment.

Everyone had fun at the snorkeling class.

Everyone had fun at the snorkeling class.

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