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Lithia Springs - A Great Introduction to the Underwater World
JasonP - 10/26/2013 9:17 PM
Category: General
Replies: 0

I "dove" Lithia Springs today as a warm-up to hitting Blue Springs tomorrow where I’m going see the Manatees and work on my equalization. It was only about 11 feet deep today, but that’s enough for a freediving warm-up. As many of you know, I’m a freediver and we take advantage of the natural diving ability in all mammals (dive physiologists call it the "Mammalian Diving Reflex"). Any immersion combined with significant breath holding will stimulate this natural reflex we humans share with all diving mammals like whales, dolphins, sea lions, etc. That’s off topic, but let me know via reply if you’d like to know more about this very natural aspect of freediving.

So, as I was hanging out at the grate with the Tilapia, Sunfish, Shad, and Bluegills (just a very few of the species that visit and live there), it occurred to me how ideal Lithia Springs is as an aquatic introduction for any friends and loved ones we’d like to bring into our diving lives. You see, we underwater enthusiasts can get a bit passionate with our "nearest and dearest" and try to get them to "dive right in" (pun intended) to the more exotic locations with the full expectation that they’ll be blown away and fall in love with the liquid world on this blue planet of ours, just like we did.

Sometimes, though, our best laid plans come to naught.

How many of us have felt the pang of disappointment when a spouse or close friend or family member didn’t enjoy the outing or were indifferent to the experience we’d been planning and anticipating for oh-so-long? I know have.

I’ve arranged three snorkeling outings in two of the greatest dive destinations on Earth, with mixed results at best. My church conducts spiritual retreats in the Caribbean (great place to collect yourself and sort a few things out, eh?) and the ship regularly cruises between the ABC islands. In two snorkeling trips to Aruba and one to Bonaire, I’ve guided at least a dozen people into these wonderous waters. Between trouble with contact lenses, crappy and ill-fitting rental gear, and general discomfort due to the new experience of snorkeling in open water, very few of my close church friends were as enthusiastic as I had hoped about the experience, even though there were sea squirts, a sea turtle, squid, and an eel (no one followed me out deep enough to see these highlights).

What does that have to do with Lithia Springs? Well, it’s a perfect spot to introduce people to the underwater world in a comfortable, safe, controlled environment. It’s easy to forget how scary and complex an ocean swim to 12’ water can be for someone experiencing it for the first time. Diving should be pleasurable. Worrying about the stinging salt water in your eyes while you learn to seal and defog a mask distracts tremendously from that pleasure. Choking on brinewater or chlorine water while learning to clear a snorkel is a downer, no matter how you look at it. Wondering about sharks is no small distraction, either, especially when a commercial snorkeling boat comes in and the captain hollers at you about the sharks on his P.A. (actual incident—the dingaling had just finished dispatching about 30 people into the water and decided to try to spook me for god-knows-what reason). You get the picture.

A lifetime of diving is built on a steady stream of initially pleasurable experiences. And that’s the special opportunity awaiting us. Florida’s springs can provide a solid foundation of highly pleasurable experiences for the people we love and care about. Once they’re comfortable in the spring, they can "graduate" to ocean or other more open water and get hooked enough to get fired up about completing a certification class—and in the case of freediving, get certified and train for the physical fitness that makes the activity so much more pleasurable. (And that’s another possible future topic: the amazing fitness benefits of freediving. As above, let me know if you’d like to know more.)

So springs like Lithia, Alexander, Ginnie, and Ichetucknee (just to name very few) can be a literal font of pleasure for those who have yet to see the beautiful world awaiting them below the surface. I saw a whole family today who splashed around in waist deep water with literally hundreds of fish around their ankles. Not a mask among them, though, so I don’t think they had even the slightest clue. Made me want to buy a bunch of cheap masks so I can loan them out the next time I go—which I might actually do, by the way.

I can’t wait to take my family to the springs. If the sheer natural wonder doesn’t have them on the edge of rapture, the barbecued goodies and picnicking will keep them coming back for more. Pleasure moments all around. And that’s the particular magic of Lithia Springs. Between the water, the cookouts, and the camping, there are pleasure moments aplenty. Life abounds and opens the heart to new things.

There’s really no wonder Ponce de Leon thought he had found the fountain of Youth in Florida. One only wonders which spring it was that captured his heart so completely.

GoodDive to all!