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Diving into the dark: insight into the Thai cave predicament

Last Updated Jul 6, 2018 at 6:45 pm EDT

It’s hard to imagine the terror the 13 people trapped underground in Thailand must be facing. However I think I have a slightly better understanding after the story I covered this week.

I had an opportunity to work with Dive World Canada, a diving company that teaches beginners the ins-and-outs of SCUBA — which stands for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” They took a novice like me — who is apprehensive about the water to begin with — and showed me what’s it’s like to swim underwater in limited visibility.

“It’s like giving these kids an F-1 car and teaching them how to drive. It’s going to be very hard for them,” says Peter Gilbert from Dive World Canada.

I met Gilbert at Gulliver’s Lake just northwest of Hamilton. Just like the people trapped in the cave I got a very fast crash course on how to scuba dive, a process Gilbert said would normally take up to a year.

The first thing I noticed was the weight of all of the equipment. The tank alone weighed at least 15 pounds. So I can’t imagine how these young boys will fare having to use all of this equipment for a rescue that could take more than 2 hours and involve navigating through some very tight spaces.

For me the hardest part of the entire ordeal was learning how to breath underwater. Everything worked, but my brain kept telling me: “this isn’t right.” and I felt the urge to breathe through my nose.

That would have been a huge mistake. It took about 45 minutes for me to get comfortable. Even then I still felt myself hyperventilating as we swam through the murky waters. Not being able to see was just another thing that freaked me out.

Obviously, my limited experience pales in comparison to what those 12 boys and their coach will be going through. This trial run really put into perspective not only how hard scuba diving is, but how hard it is when you are scared.

This experience has given me a new appreciation for the rescuers who will be putting their lives on the line to helped the 13 people trapped in the cave. I can only hope their ordeal ends soon and safely.