February 11, 2018
Finding Freedom in the Strangest of Places – Tim’s Scuba Adventure
by Gabe Taylor
Imagine being weightless, floating effortlessly with your head beneath the water in an environment alien to the one you known. You can hear the bubbles breaking on the surface as you observe your new surroundings. That’s how it was for Tim Ashley in an experience he could only describe as “just liberating.”
For most people, scuba diving is an exciting and novel escape from the world they’re used to, and a way to experience life beneath the waves. For Tim, who is a Peer Support Coordinator at The Independence Center, scuba diving took on a whole new meaning in a recent trip to Denver. Earlier in his life, Tim had an accident on a construction site that resulted in paralysis that left him unable to use his legs. Today, Tim uses a wheelchair to get around. During a recent scuba diving excursion, Tim experienced life from a whole new perspective.
When discussing how he became interested in scuba diving, Tim enthusiastically says, “I’ve wanted to scuba dive ever since I was a little kid. I just never had the opportunity to do it.” So when Adaptive Adventures, an organization that organizes recreational opportunities for people with disabilities, posted the scuba class on their website calendar, Tim jumped at the opportunity. He called up and registered as soon as he could. He had gone on several excursions with Adaptive Adventures as part of his Spinal Cord Injury peer support group in the past, so the process was pretty simple.
Not long after, the big day came and Tim found himself at the edge of an indoor pool in south Denver getting ready to take the
plunge. Looking in, he was nervous about what might happen when he hit the water. With the air tank attached to his back, he thought its weight might roll him over in the water where he wouldn’t be able to turn himself back around.
When the time came, he didn’t hesitate for a moment. He hit the water with a splash and sank in. As his body settled in the water, he realized that his initial concern was unfounded. Immediately, he felt at home. Over the next few hours, he swam in the pool as if he were weightless. When I ask him what the experience was like, he says “It’s just amazing.” When diving, “the wheelchair doesn’t exist, and the disability doesn’t exist. It just disappears. It’s a feeling of total freedom.” When elaborating on the experience, he says “It’s like I came out of the person that’s sitting in the wheelchair and I was the person that I used to be.” It’s obvious that his time underwater made quite an impression.
The experience was so impactful, in fact that Tim has signed up to become certified in scuba diving. If all goes well, Tim, a hand full of people from his scuba class, and Adaptive Adventures staff will take a trip to Mexico in the near future to go scuba diving in the Gulf of Mexico. He seems ecstatic about the prospect of swimming in the open ocean.
To learn more about the peer support groups at The Independence Center, give us a call at 719-471-8181.