Rick Flaugh was not sure he wanted to go shark diving as his expedition date to Isla Guadalupe drew closer this year.
He had to get over his fear of swimming first.
We are proud of this newly minted shark diver who met his fears and completed his latest adventure in style.
Here's his story:
Ever since I saw the movie Jaws, the Great White Shark has been an animal that I have admired and dreamed about. Yes, the movie gave them bad publicity, but I was hooked!
I first heard of Shark Diver a few years ago when I saw them on Discovery and wondered if they took anyone out commercially. They did, and I wondered if there was a way to make it happen. A few years passed and I kept wondering if it would be possible. Finally April of this year came around and I said to myself I'm going to do it.
I got booked for a trip going out to Guadalupe on the 16th of October, after having many passport issues, you have no idea, that date was not going to work and Pat Douglas the CEO said he could get me on the next trip out.
Now here is where the story really begins.
At age 10 I had a bad experience at a swimming pool, something that has always stuck with me.
I went through life not knowing how to swim with a fear of water. When Pat gave me the date that I would be leaving, I got on the horn with Morningside College here in Sioux City and began swim lessons.
Yes, a week before the trip!
I went through two lessons on Monday and Tuesday. My fear of water and what was awaiting me was worsening not getting better. I called Patric that Wednesday (a few days form departure) to see if I could get my money. He of course said no, thanks Patric by the way!
I knew I was going to have to conqeur it. I had actually skipped my lesson on Wednesday because I was scared. Thursday came and I went, fear was still there. Friday something started clicking and I was able to stay under water without shooting for the surface, it was getting better. Then Saturday morning went back in, the day prior to me leaving!
I was pretty comfortable underwater at this point, so I asked if we could work on some swimming. Not really thinking anything was going to come of it. Andy Burnham was my coach, great kid. Within a half hour or so, I was swimming across the pool with absolutely no FEAR of sinking or drowning. I was diving underwater and even touching the bottom. Learning how to swim at this point of my life was the greatest thing I've ever accomplished.
I was now excited to be leaving the next morning at 3:00AM to go get on a plane, for the first time of course. Still leery about getting sea-sick and being on a boat for a 20+ hour boatride though. Didn't really get sick, one morning I felt nauseous but it passed.
Once onboard I had other shark divers throwing me compliments and the "are you crazy" look that I was out doing this with no snorkeling or diving experience. It made me feel good about what I was getting ready to do. Yes, my first time under in the cage with a regulator in my mouth was a shell-shocking experience. With some encouraging words from divemaster Martin Graff I went back down and stayed down.
Seeing a Great White for the first time was calming, relaxing, and an adrenaline pumping experience all at the same time! The most missunderstood and beautiful animals in the world, not an opinion that's a fact.
To everyone that helped me do this from my swim coach, Martin, and Shark Diver. The crew aboard the Horizon was top notch, I owe a debt to you guys and gals as well. The food was great, Mark I need to hire you as my chef I hate cooking for myself. I made a few friends amongst the other shark divers as well, people I am and will still keep in touch with.
I'm going to give myself some props as well. My dream of seeing a Great White became a reality and will cherish it forever. Truly for many reasons the best time of my life.
Thanks to everyone!
Editors Note: Rick you're one of our heroes mate, congrats on the adventure, this was a huge year for you!