The Swaggerjack crew loaded up bright and early to travel down to Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL for a swooping event. Some of the most talented swoopers from the league gathered to practice and show off their skills. Swooping is an extremely dangerous style of landing a parachute which involves an executive level of canopy control and expert navigation. The parachutists calculate their landing carefully and execute their final turns just so that they swoop through the landing area before actually landing. This is typically done over a shallow pond/pool so that they may drag their feet across the water and requires a much smaller parachute than what jumpers typically use. High winds may have cut the event short by making the landing area unsafe for proper navigation and canopy control, but this is only the second meet of the season!
The morning started again at 0600 with an intense PT led by Fuch. After a quick 0700 breakfast, they were loaded into the van to drive to the marina for another day on the water. The dive staff already had all of the equipment laid out and ready to go; thanks, Luis and Joel!
The dive crew did en excellent job preparing the students for the dive sites they were about to encounter and ensuring that all safety practices were acknowledged and followed. A couple of the students even got to practice a safe buddy-assent in the open ocean! They were careful not to disturb the coral and got to explore many sites unique to the Caribbean while still getting the most out of their dives.
After getting in two dives, it was time to head back to the hotel, gear up, and load up in the van towards the Puerto Rican rainforest! We drove through windy roads surrounded by lush, green vegetation up the mountain before reaching the trail head to the beautiful waterfall/ swimming hole. The trail was mostly concrete though the forest, with plenty of step and slips along the way. Once we reached the falls, several of the students got to enjoy a dip in, refreshing water before heading back up to the parking area.
Following the journey to the rainforest, we were treated to a delicious dinner back at the hotel served poolside by Mama Shipley and the girls. It was a delicious spread of treats and meat, just what the students needed after a morning in the water and an afternoon in the rainforest. They relaxed poolside into the evening, exchanging stories and sharing complex discussions before heading to their rooms to get some sleep before another 0600 PT session.
Swaggerjack Productions would like to thank the wonderfully talented Kristin for her dedication to underwater videography and amazing photography skills!
The morning came quick with an 06:00 PT in the hotel resort’s gym, led by Chief Fuch. The students challenged themselves to run just a little further, bench just a little more, and work just a little harder than they had the day before. His goal seems to be encouraging each student to reach their fullest potential and push themselves that extra bit to surpass their best from the previous workout. The students were having fun in the gym and genuinely enjoying the challenge, proud of what they had accomplished.
PT ended with a trip poolside to enjoy another delicious spread of breakfast foods before departing the resort for the the marina, where the students would get on the dive boat and get to put the skills learned previously in the pool to use in the wild, untamed ocean. The divemasters had all of their gear ready to go and the students got their first tastes of saltwater while exploring the beautiful reefs under the Caribbean sea.
While diving, the students got a short lesson in Lionfish hunting from the divemaster. Lionfish are native to to Pacific ocean, not the Atlantic, so they have no natural predators here. They are considered an invasive species because of this and the fact that they eat the native fish.
The Swaggerjack crew had an amazingly blissful flight to beautiful Puerto Rico thanks to JetBlue airlines and landed in a wonderfully warm, humid climate ready to make our way to Fajardo and break in the new year. We were meeting the EXTREME SEAL EXPERIENCE crew already stationed at the hotel and ready to party. They provided us with tickets to an amazing new year’s celebration at the El Conquistador Resort where we dined on an astounding spread of every food and dessert you can imagine, rocked out to the best 80’s cover band, danced on the salsa floor and played with glowsticks in the disco. There’s no better way or better company to break in 2012! All photos are compliments of the lovely and talented Kristin