St. Charles Herald-Guide

Things to do before you die...Yucatan diving

By Kyle Barnett - June 8, 2012

Danielle Hymel, 43, said scuba diving was on her and her husband Edwardís bucket list, but they decided to share it with their five children because it would offer them more activities when they traveled.

"The more we started researching it we decided to bring the kids along just because we travel a lot and we figured why not," Danielle said. "We said the kids arenít going to have a bucket list by the time they get older because they are doing everything with us."

The Hymelís five children range from eight to 21 years old. The kids, Taylor, 20, Katie, 18, Emily, 15, Noah, 10, Quincy, 8, took scuba diving lessons with their parents at Harryís Dive Shop on Airline Highway in Metairie.

"We did an extended weekend class so from Friday afternoon to Sunday night we were at Harryís in the pool and in the classroom," Danielle said.

Danielle said the lessons went smoothly despite her maternal instinct to sometimes take over.

"Harryís was awesome," Danielle said. "Their trainers were so good and so helpful with all of the kids and maybe even me.

I might have been more of an aggravation than the kids because the kids they have no fear and no concern and they just do it.

"Itís just nature to want and try to help your kid and you have to not do that because they very strictly explain to you how they need to be able to know what to do if you are swimming along and someone kicks your respirator out of your mouth. You canít freak out when you are 40 feet underwater. So they go through all of those scenarios with you so you know what to do to not overreact and be calm and do what you should do. That makes me feel way better."

The Hymelís then went on to DeFuniak Springs, Fla. in April where they took a

dive test in open water to get certified.

"It was a little anxious I think for everybody because itís way different than being in a swimming pool that you know where the bottom is and the top," Danielle said. "Again, they just took it slow and one step at a time and they explained everything and once you relax and trust that you know what to do it really is wonderful. The kids

enjoyed it and couldnít wait to do it."

Danielle said she now completely trusts her children know how to handle themselves underwater.

"They know how to take care of themselves and their buddies," Danielle said. "As a mom I guess when you are under the water with your children you tend to try and worry about them, but now that I know that they know what to do and how to save themselves and their buddies I can enjoy it and relax that much more."

The family did not wait long to put their new skills to use. Over Mardi Gras break they took a trip to Cozumel, Mexico where all of them, except for the youngest Quincy, got to try out scuba diving on their own for the first time.

"We saw lobsters and eels and a lot of coral," Danielle said. "Chankanaab is the name of the park that has the second largest reef in the world supposedly. We didnít scuba the whole reef, but it is a part of it."

Danielle said unlike their experience in DeFuniak Springs, the waters at Chankanaab were as clear as those in the pool at Harryís.

"There is a whole new world underwater," Danielle said. "Itís so peaceful and quiet and I guess that is whatís nice too itís relaxing. Itís no hustle and bustle, everything is just kind of quiet and stopped. It was amazing because with seven of us we are always having commotion. Itís never silent. So for the seven of us to be able to go and do that itís just really peaceful."

Danielle said she would recommend the experience to anyone.

"It really was an amazing experience," Danielle said. "I was kind of hesitant at first to involve the kids because I was kind of like this in my bucket list, but the more we talked about it, it really is neat that we all did it together. The kids were buddies with one another and helping each other out and like I said now that when we go off and travel itís something we can all do together. Iím excited now and canít way until we go again."

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(If you or someone you know has a story they would like to share for our "things to do before you die" series please send an email to Lifestyles Editor Kyle Barnett at kyleb@heraldguide.com or call our office at (985) 758-2795.)

Things to do before you die...Yucatan diving