There’s three things I’ve learned about conquering fears. One, no fear is too large to get over. Two, a majority of the time it’s totally worth it. Three, you only get one life, mise well do the crazy stuff.
Snorkeling and scuba diving happens to be one of those fears. Although I am a lifeguard, and teach water safety, there’s something about sticking a tube in my mouth and breathing underwater that doesn’t sit well with me. Yet, here I was in one of the wonders of the world looking through snorkel goggles into the Great Barrier Reef.
Now, getting to this point was not as easy as one would think. Around nine in the morning, my tour group (EF Tours) got on a boat and headed out to sea. The reef, which can be seen from outer-space, is located off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia. Traveling to the reef took approximately two hours, in which it was the most horrendous two hours of my life. Typically, I don’t get sea sick, but then again I’ve never been on a boat that large with the sea waves at 25 knots. My stomach felt like it was on a constant Tilt-A-Whirl ride. I eventually made my way outside to the deck because people said it would be better there. Although it was nice to have fresh air, seeing the waves made me even more nauseous. I looked to my left where a five-year-old girl was ejecting into a brown paper bag. To my right, a crew member peeled off her plastic gloves while depositing another bag into the rubbage bin. Only 90 more minutes, I thought to myself.
Somehow, someway, I managed to make it to the reef without projecting any of my breakfast. Once I arrived, some people put on wet suits, while the others stayed in their swimming costume. I went for the “cool picture” look and stuck with a swimsuit. Boy did I regret that later on the ride back when my body was shivering for two hours. Anyways, once I finally gathered up the courage to get in the water, with a lot of persuasion from my tour guide Lincoln Miller, it was incredible! Fish of every color circled my ankles, some of which honestly scared the heck out of me. The corals were also so beautiful up close, which you can see in the video below! The cold, rainy weather didn’t even scare me away. After all, I was swimming in the Great Barrier Reef!
One of the most interesting things I learned while I was there is that the reef stretches on for 2,300km, and has over 600 types of corals located across thousands of islands. The small circle that I toured was a speck of salt in an entire jar. And when I say salt, I mean it! Because I am from Wisconsin and never swim in salt water, I was not enjoying the taste after countless waves tumbled on top of me. After an hour of swimming around, I called it a day and went back to the dock, which I should mention was in the absolute middle of no where. I changed into warm clothes and ate some wonderful ice cream that was on board. My stomach was starting to feel a little better, however the two hour trek back was still not in my favor.
Overall, I did conquer a fear and can say I’ve swam in the Great Barrier Reef. Would I do it again? I think you know the answer to that. But, I still think everyone should adventure out there to see the beauty before it’s no longer around.
Video captured on a Gopro Hero+. Combination of recording from Chelsea Bauman and Lincoln Miller. Turtle video captured by Joey Murphy. All video was captured on May 17th, 2018 in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. EF Tours group to Australia and New Zealand. Video edited by Chelsea Bauman using Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017.