My adventure to swim with dolphins is one full of suspense and intrigue, fear, excitement and unparalleled exhilaration. Doing a Swim with Dolphins Miami program is comparable to the before feelings of a roller-coaster ride. It is this bizarre mix of emotions that leaves you both scared and wanting more at the same time. This was the first time both my sister and I had ever swum with a dolphin. We had no idea what to expect of how to do it. Luckily for us the extremely friendly staff guided us through each phase of the swim activity.
The first order of business after you check in at the front booth is to follow the trainers into a video room where you and your party will sit with other participants to listen to the trainers explain the appropriate protocol of how to act with dolphins. While at first I believed this portion to be a waste of time, I quickly began to understand its importance. There were some portions of it that were commonsense, like the trainers saying, don’t provoke the dolphin, don't poke them, kick them, be aggressive towards them. This was all pretty self-explanatory but then you get to learn some interesting facts about how they breathe, how they utilize echolocation to aid their limited eyesight, and the proper techniques of how to hold on to the dolphin fin when they carry you across the pool area. This educational briefing, as it is called, ended up helping a lot more than I had originally thought as it also pretty much had an over viewed and procedure for the rest of the dolphin swim activity.
The next part of the activity was getting the wet suit gear for the dolphin activity. Honestly, I personally didn't like the idea of getting into a tight wetsuit, especially since my style of clothing was more baggy and loose oriented. I figured you only do this ever so often, so I bit the bullet and suited up. They have suits for all ages and sizes, whether your light as a feather or on the heavier end, it doesn't matter, and they have changing rooms where you can undress and change into them with ease. At this point if you had any jewelry or metallic objects you would need to take them off and place them in a locker, which is provided with lock and key at the facility. Since I was so excited, I was finished rather quickly with putting on my wet suit. My sister and I finished a little sooner than the rest of the group, we eventually had to wait for the others to finish suiting up so we could all enter the water as a group. There was a small amount of lag time where I could talk to my sister and gain her opinion and perspective on the upcoming swim activity. I recalled asking her if she was nervous and she remarked, “Why would I be nervous. They are friendly and adorable”. At which point I felt a lot better because if my sister wasn’t scared then there really wasn't anything to be scared about at all. Plus there was that machismo factor to take into account where if my sister can do it, I definitely should have no problem doing it at all.
The time had come, and we began to enter single file into the pool area. The water wasn't hot or cold, it was about normal, and so it did not create any additional uncomfortable conditions or adverse situations. The trainers were extremely nice and always cracking jokes to lighten the mood. They knew just like anything else, things that are unfamiliar are always construed as scary. This is just a natural part of human nature. The dolphins finally made their appearance and boy were we all excited, from that point in time things really picked up. We all were able to pet the dolphins, shake their fins, hug them, kiss them on the nose, feed them a fish snack to which they were very delighted, and do a number of other really neat activities with the dolphins. We found out later on that doing those activities were necessary not just for us to feel comfortable with the dolphin, but even more so for the dolphin to feel comfortable with us.
After about 20 minutes of fun with the dolphins in the water, it was time for the main event, the action to which so much anxiety, and excitement had emerged. All the participants in the water were told to line up and to wait for the dolphin to swim by and while doing so to hold on to the dorsal fin with a firm grip and hold on. Moment by moment, I watched person after person do this, each one making it look easier than the next. My sister was in front of me and I was eager to see how she would do, she grabbed on to the fin and swam and waved to everyone as she swam gracefully forward. She was smiling and laughing the whole way through. She really made it look too easy.
My turn was here; I got psyched up as best as I could and as the dolphin swam by I reached full length for its fin. I almost slipped off but at the last second I caught and gripped the dorsal fin and reinforced it with my other hand. I held on for all I was worth and I felt the momentum boom as the speed picked up to top velocity, about half way there I could feel the wind in my face and the strength of the dolphin below me. It was an empowering experience and I looked up and waved to my sister as I smiled from ear to ear in the process. The dolphin began to slow down towards the end of the pool and I let go of its fin to rejoin my sister in the deep end of the pool. I was ecstatic to realize we would all get another dorsal fin ride this time escorting us back to the shallow end of the pool where we would conclude the activity.
Overall this activity was truly a once in a lifetime experience and one I would never forget it. This swimming with the dolphin program had a dual purpose of shaping and deciding my views, opinions and beliefs about dolphins, as extremely friendly, loving, amazing creatures of the waves. This program inspired me from that point to write and blog about them as much as I could to share my experiences with the world.
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