I don’t swim underwater.

I actually have a phobia of seaweed-no I’m not kidding. I realize that there is no seaweed in your local pool, but any time that I am underwater I imagine being pulled down by long, vine-like, slimy strands of seagrass, and being drowned.

This phobia began at a young age when I saw the movie The Piano. At the end of the movie, our heroine envisions slipping her ankle into the coil of rope that is attached to the large, grand piano that has been thrown overboard and is quickly spiraling down toward the ocean floor. She sees herself being pulled under the water’s surface and slowly decaying in the salty depths; fish eating her face away like so many people at a buffet. This image has haunted me most of my life, and I have never quite escaped the feeling of dread when my head is submerged.This is a nuisance at the least for me because I love to swim. I loved the tropics, and I love the ocean. I also think that this fear is very silly (as I am sure you do as well.)

My goal for a long time has been to get rid of this fear, and what better way to do that then to embrace scuba diving? My dream of scuba diving is not solely for the purpose of ridding myself of a ridiculous phobia; I am enchanted by the idea of swimming over coral reefs while schools of beautiful, brightly colored fish swim all around me. I want to travel to Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines and have more to write about than the cuisine (which I’m sure is amazing).

This past Christmas, I reached a milestone in my “defeat the fear of seaweed” fight by successfully snorkeling for the first time-and only almost drowning my helpful husband in the process. This past Sunday though, my last milestone was blown out of the water-or should I say, under the water. I accompanied In The Know Traveler editor Devin and cameraman Jason Fitzpatrick to the Los Angeles Times Travel and Adventure Show in the Long Beach Convention Center. The place was an exotic zoo filled with booths representing the tourism boards of the most interesting countries of the world and several of the United States’ states. We had the pleasure of interviewing representatives from exotic countries and hearing about the wonderful adventures that American tourists could experience when traveling to these places.The underwater part of this whole event was the intro and outro filmed for ITKT’s podcast watchers’ pleasure.

At the convention, there was a large diving pool set up so that travelers could have a taste of what scuba diving is like. Visitors could put on a wet suits and all the scuba gear, try out being underwater, and even sign up for scuba lessons and scuba excursions around the world. Because I am such a devoted ITKT correspondent, and because the idea of a wet, wet suited, ITKT correspondent doing the intro and out-tro for the show seemed like a good idea, I donned the cold, wet wet suit, flippers and gear, and got in the pool-which was thankfully warm. I bit the bullet, swallowed my fear, and swam under water on camera. I may look ridiculous, but it’s all for the job, and it’s is the most time I’ve ever spent underwater in my life. Go Team Eileen!

I think we got some good interviews and whether or not ITKT uses my soggy scuba scoop, I am at least one giant step closer to losing my fear of going under.