Tina and I had been contemplating doing a GUE Fundamentals or “Fundies” as it’s been known, for quite some time. We actually had contacted Meredith Tanguay sometime in spring of 2014 and tried to get a Fundies class scheduled for December during Tina’s break from teaching. Fortunately we decided to hold off for a number of reasons. A big reason was that the logistics of running a Houston based Fundies class was tough especially in winter when most of the dive lakes are closing down. Also the visibility in the dive lakes around are spotty at best. Since a big part of GUE classes is the video feedback; we felt that our best option was to trek to High Springs Florida for any GUE classes. This also left us with another big decision to make. The springs in Florida have year round constant water temp of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and Tina doesn’t like the cold water. We decided it would be best for us to take Fundies in dry suits (which we didn’t own).
Of course the saga of buying and learning dry suits is well documented in other posts so I won’t get into all that, but a lot of the motivation to dive dry was partly based on continuing our education with GUE and being able to do the classes in High Springs where the water is clear and beautiful and quite frankly a little chilly.
After many many emails back and forth between us and Mer; we finally settled on the end of June as our Fundies date. Initially it was scheduled to be held in Houston but for reasons mentioned above we decided to forget that idea and sunny Florida became the destination. The months leading up to our trip to high springs had been hectic. Tina was wrapping up her semester, I was crazy busy at work and all the while Tina was trying to learn how to swim. We both had pretty well committed to the GUE streamlined gear configuration as best as we understood it, so not much needed to be updated in the gear department. We were going to take the class in singles and we already had all the gear for that.
GUE Fundamentals actually begins about a month or so before the class with homework and other logistics. We needed a place to stay and Mer was awesome in finding us an inexpensive house to rent just outside of Highsprings. Tina started really hitting the pool about March and went once per week until May when her classes were over. Did I mention that she couldn’t really swim? When I say she couldn’t swim, I mean she couldn’t swim up the the standards of what GUE required to begin a class.
GUE requires that a person needs to do a 50ft underwater breath hold swim and 300 yards non-stop in under 14 mins. This may seem pretty easy for an avid swimmer but for someone who never really learned the proper strokes and had trouble putting her face underwater, it was a real challenge. Tina could do a modified doggy paddle and could maybe swim underwater for about 1 foot but that’s about the extent of it. Fundamentals became much more then a dive class for Tina and was now a life goal to get her swimming confidence built up so that she felt like she had control in the water.
Our first few times in the YMCA pool together was after Tina had taken a few swim lessons from an instructor. So she had a pretty good idea of what to work on. I tried to give her tips and pointers but she generally doesn’t like to take advice from me (I think it’s a marriage thing). Tina could not swim the length of the pool (25 yards) without stopping. The fundies count down was on but we had at least 5 months to get the swimming figured out.