I couldn't help but hear the ominous soundtrack of "Jaws" echoing in my head...as I looked down below through the watery depths to see several sharks circling below....
My heart was racing, my palms were sweating, and my regulator was surrounded with bubbles as my breathing intensified. My adrenaline raced as I tried to quickly swim in the other direction of the huge creatures below me.
"What the heck am I DOING???" I thought to myself...."I must be CRAZY to be swimming with sharks."
What I was doing was participating in the Walt Disney World's Aqua Seas Tour, which allows guests an opportunity to swim in the world's largest salt-water aquarium along with 2,000 marine occupants. Including sharks.
My daughter and I took the plunge last week, and I'll have to say - with the exception of the sharks - it was truly a thrilling adventure and one not to be missed.
We donned wetsuits, oxygen tanks, fins and regulators...and with a 30-minute allotment of oxygen on our backs, we quickly jumped into the 78-degree water to observe the sea life in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Four-hundred pound sea turtles swam up close and personal - as curious about us, as we were about them. It may sound hokey, but swimming along beside these magnificent, graceful creatures leaves one breathless.
In fact, I caught myself several times holding my breath..."BREATHE!" I'd remind myself, taking a quick puff of oxygen on my regulator.
Grouper...tarpon...stingrays...swimming by so close, they were brushing up against me as I maneuvered my way around the tank.
And then I saw the sharks. Circling below.
"Is he looking at me like I'm a big, fat juicy seal?" my mind wandered.
The people of Disney had assured me that the sharks had been well-fed that morning, and would leave me alone, but I couldn't help but think, "I think that guy is looking at me like I'm a piece of chicken."
What a headline THAT would be..."Mom eaten alive at a Disney park by hungry shark. Details at 10."
As I warily watched the sharks below, I did everything I could to NOT look like a seal. Hard, when you're dressed in a black wetsuit. That looks like a seal.
The sharks left me alone, though, and I was able to gaze in wonder as they swam by...
...knowing that my 30-minutes would come to an all-too-soon end.
At the end of our adventure, I asked Mickey how she did, and she answered, "Mom...? That was...AWESOME!!!!"
I'll have to agree.