Westmont Magazine An Adventure Beyond Nature

By Nathanael Nims '23

When I was 11, my parents downsized our family into an RV, taking us throughout the United States. During this four-year period, I learned to appreciate the incredible natural wonders our Creator blessed us with, especially the shores of Hawaii and the alpine lakes of Colorado. But my three ocean dives on September 18, 2022, stand out as some of the most unique and engaging natural experiences I’ve ever had.

Author Nathanael Nims '23
Author Nathanael Nims '23

The buildup to the dive was almost as much of an adventure as the dive itself. At 11 years old, I naively fixated on the idea of acquiring my own scuba kit just because I thought it was cool. I forgot about that dream until my first year at Westmont, when I saw a scuba diving class as an option for my physical education requirement. I knew I’d have to conclude my Westmont experience with this course. Being fitted with gear and spending a weekend in the pool added to the sense of anticipation.

Never had I deeply considered the bodily implications of existing in a place I shouldn’t be. The intimacy with nature was unlike anything I’ve experienced. It felt like walking into somebody’s home and seeing how they live: schools of fish, calmly swaying plant life and total quiet amid the relaxing 70-degree temperature embodied peace.

The anchor line to the bottom of the sea floor signaled the tie to the real world above. The oscillation between total immersion with the world beneath the surface and reminders of human innovation above formed a fascinating part of my experience. Floating weightlessly next to sea urchins, lobsters and starfish entranced me. Yet clouds of air bubbles crossing my vision, lightly falling to the sea floor as I controlled my buoyancy through careful breathing, reminded me of the technology enabling this adventure beyond nature.

Rarely is it necessary to practice such careful bodily awareness as I did during the dive. I was worried about pressure equalization in my ears because of my interest in music and love for the piano. But it turned out to be a fairly easy thing to learn through swallowing rather than pressure through my nose. The wet suit, highly constricting above water, was fine. The worst challenge was fogging on my goggles, until I started simply spitting or using soap on the lenses. One of the most unique physical experiences was the free-flowing regulator breathing, which made me feel like a fish that could breathe underwater — a foreign thought to my intuition.

The greatest blessing was exploring God’s creation with our dive class, who all rose to the challenge in communal discovery. Working with a partner, a safety practice, also emphasized the uniqueness of being in a place unlike any other within the context of our Westmont family of students. I’m so grateful to have learned to dive while living in Santa Barbara!