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Snorkeling Trips and Strong Swimmers

If you are a strong swimmer, you may be disappointed with how you are treated when you go on a “snorkeling” trip in a tropical location.  Some places require you to wear a life vest and have other restrictions.  The first clue that this is not a real snorkeling trip is, they don’t ask if you know how to swim.

Dear Tropical Tourism Boards, Legislatures, Rule and Law-making Entities, Snorkeling Trip Vendors :

Do not treat people who have worked hard to develop swimming skills

2008 LEN European Championships Final 400m Freestyle Women
Competitive Swimmers

the same as those who have not.

An example of casual swimming

I am a 66 year old former competitive swimmer. I am a Water Safety Instructor,  I taught a LOT of kids how to swim in the YMCA program.  I was certified to SCUBA in 1987.

I work out three to four times a week.

What is Snorkeling?

“Snorkeling allows you to enjoy the underwater world from the surface of the water and diving down while holding your breath to get a closer look.”
— Scuba Diving vs. Snorkeling • Scuba Diver Life › scuba-diving-verse-snorkeling

That means that from time to time, if you see something interesting, and are a good swimmer, you take a momentary surface dive from the top to view something on the bottom a bit closer.

When we go on a tropical vacation, I do a few Scuba trips, and I also Snorkel with my wife.  I do not go to places that require snorkelers to wear a vest.  I am a very experienced snorkeler. I like to do surface dives (Also known as a Duck Dive  ) when I go snorkeling.

You cannot do a surface dive with a vest.

I am neutrally buoyant, with nine pounds of weight (I wear a full sun protection suit when I snorkel and dive).  I find taking weights is preferable to doing what they call Free Diving. There are many semantic differences and confusion about what free diving is. I refer to the more technical definition used by the some of the standard bodies (and for competitive free diving events) . See I do not feel the need to use breathing techniques that require a lot of training, when, with a few pounds of weight, I can stay underwater for a minute.  Free diving requires skills and practice.  Wearing a few pounds of weights requires no special skills. Wearing nine pounds of extra weight does not impair my swimming or floating on the top — it just makes it easier for me to do a quick surface dive to get a closer look at some of the marine life or corals that are a few feet  below me.

If you are negatively buoyant, getting and staying underwater is easy.  If you are positively buoyant, it is more difficult. See Personal Buoyancy

I am not unusual in doing surface dives. Every tour guide I have ever been on a snorkel trip with will do many during the course of an hour snorkel. Any good swimmer will do a few when something catches their eye.

Having a one size fits all mentality for snorkeling safety does not make sense.

I am not unusual.  Statistics on the number of capable versus casual swimmers are not available.  The  has over 400,000 current members.  The number of people who have been members at some time in their lives is in the millions.  Think of these people as Olympic Hopefuls.  This does not include many of the swimmers who are members of their Junior and High School swimming teams.  College Teams…Water polo players ….  Swimming Instructors…  Synchronized Swimmers. .. Navy Seals … Japanese Pearl Divers .... Add in Iron men, Marathon Swimmers, and groups like the L Street Brownies.  Capable swimmers number in the tens of millions.

Dear Tour Operators and Tourist Boards:
If you want people to visit your area and enjoy the marine life there — for many, the very reason they have paid good money to be there — do not treat people who have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours, working on becoming the best swimmers they can be, like casual swimmers. That disrespects their skills — and in essence penalizes them for knowing how to swim well.

In fact, these are the kind of people you want on your boats, just in case a situation arises where your team could use some additional help.

Gary and Anne snorkeling

Snorkeler’s Pledge


  • Maintain good mental and physical fitness.
  • Ask in advance about snorkeling conditions like currents, tides, aquatic life from a knowledgeable, source who is familiar with local conditions.
  • Snorkel within your limitations.
  • Look but don’t touch — marine life is fragile.
  • Keep your fingers away from turtles, and eels.
  • Give sharks and rays a wide berth.
  • Snorkeling is a recreational activity. It is for enjoying nature, not competition.

Ten Tips for Divers (and Snorkelers) to Protect the Ocean Planet
The Divers Pledge to Protect the Ocean

I would be more than happy to sign a waiver saying I take personal responsibility for my snorkel trips. If I have a heart attack or stroke, my number came up. If I am swimming in a protected area, with a boat and dive flags, and I get run over by a drunken boater, that is another thing. Snorkeling insurance does not need to cover my heart attack. It should cover the rogue boater who runs over swimmers, or snorkelers or scuba divers.

The Pope on can I go to Heaven

The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: We will meet one another there.”


  • As quoted in “Pope at Mass: Culture of encounter is the foundation of peace” at Vatican Radio (22 May 2013)

The above is the actual quote.

This is the widely circulated “mis quote”.


June 8, 2017 Annie would have been 100

Annie Doherty was a remarkable women. A formidable woman.  A kind, caring and thoughtful woman.  She did not follow fashion, she set it.  In this photo, taken in August of 2016, she is 99 years and 2 months old.  It was taken the day after she fired her last physical therapist.  She called me down, and said “let’s go”.  I thought she just wanted to sit outside.  She had not walked to the park this year.  So she walks from her house down to Doherty Park, a pretty impressive feat for a 99 year old.


IMHO, she did this to prove to us that she did not need “no stinkin physical therapist”.

Annie had wonderful care from lots of people, and some visiting nurses came to the house. That was WONDERFUL. We will always be so very grateful for their care.

From time to time, she had physical therapy. The Annie Grannie was, for the most part of sweet little old lady. However, she did abuse her physical therapists. Her last physical therapist spent time trying to establish a rapport with her. She came 5 times and really tried to make a connection with her. Well, at 99, the Annie Grannie could still bend down and touch her toes. She kept moving every day.  She would do exercises — she just did not like to be told to do exercises.  I was in the room when on that fateful day, when, after quite a bit of conversational stroking, the therapist asks “Can you try and raise your arm over your head for me?  The Annie Grannie’s response — “Just what are you here for, anyway“.

A couple of the last pictures taken of her are below.  She often asked, when is the lord going to take me?  She was ready for her journey.

We celebrate and miss her every day.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Hold on, wait a minute”.

Watch the superstar do her knee bends on Google Photos


Mother by AMDJ

Dearest sweetest Mother dear,
We loved you so while you were near
We held you close so you might hear

How blessed we were to call you mother
Like you we know there was no other

Dearest sweetest mother dear
It was your time; you had no fear
At peace, in joy we shed our tears

Enveloped in memories of a laugh, a hug, a kiss
We find solace in your eternal bliss

Thank you Mom.

Caring for the Annie Grannie

Old age is not for sissies

May 2015

For 99, Annie is in pretty good shape.  But, putting her shoes on is a struggle for her. So is getting dressed, getting up out of a chair and pretty much, everything else.  I can help my wife in lots of situations, shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc. But she is an elderly lady, and there are many things she is only comfortable with another woman caring for her.  I have taken Annie to the clinic for a visit with her doctor.  I spend time with her. For the last year, a lot of that time has me kneeling in front of her.  She will grip my hand and I will try and take her mind off her pain, her troubles.  I take her outside to sit in front of the house.  I charge a toll to the people who pass us by.  The toll, say hello to Annie.

Annie is frail enough at this point that it’s an around the clock job taking care of her. We are Annie’s primary caregivers.  We need help.

Here are some observations on our current situation:

Anne is able to change Annie’s bandages etc; however, Annie has quite a few conditions.  Anne needs a second set of trained medical eyes to deal with her problems.  Many days, Annie does not have the will or the strength to go to urgent care.

When the VNA nurses came in once or twice a week, Annie was getting much better care than with just us alone. When we had a home health care aid come in to do some of the work with Annie’s bathing etc, it was great for Anne, she got a little break.

Anne has two sisters, and they do what they can to help.  Her sister Grace is out of state. She makes it up here 2 to 4 times a year to see her mom.  Anne’s sister Barbara and her husband visit frequently and care of Annie a couple of weekends a year. They both have busy lives, and they have kids and a lot of grandkids  They go south in the winter.

She is often in agonizing pain with the peripheral neuropathy.  Two hospital visits ago, she was taking oxycontin.  It did not help her pain.  Gabapentin does, however, it makes really tired and she really, really, really does not like it.

Annie is slowwwwwwwww to do things. If you try and speed her up, she gets upset.   If you go at a really slow speed, it is still too fast for her.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard “Hold on, wait a minute.”  She can be cranky, unreasonable and scared.

Annie can make herself a snack.  For example, yesterday, she made herself a frozen waffle with jam and butter.  She forgot to put anything back in the fridge.

Over the last 8 years, Annie has for an average of 8 months of the year had open sores (Edema etc) on her legs that require daily inspection. She has been lucky, not a single emergency visit for a fall.  She has had 4 trips to the emergency room in the last 8 years, once for pneumonia, and the others for edema wound related issues.

Annie, was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.  Annie cannot differentiate the effects until the peripheral neuropathy pain and the sores are healed, which is rare.  But the pain is there.  One of the best things you can do for plantar fasciitis is wear the correct footwear.  Annie’s feet are chronically swollen and she is unable to wear anything but slippers. Annie also has Venous Insufficiency (venous stasis wounds or edema?), diplopia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoporosis(hyperkyphosis?), Hypertension, Claudication, Mitral Valve Regurgitation (GERD), Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation, Impacted Cerumen, Hearing loss, Atrial fibrillation and a few more things that I need a medical thesaurus to understand. Around twice a month, Annie says something like “I want to go to Heaven”.

We have been searching for help.  We had an evaluation by a home health organization.  One of the question they asked:

“Annie, do you need help getting up in the morning?”  She said “No.”

Six out of 7 days a week,  Annie rings the call button for us any time between 6 and 10 am.  She is in agonizing pain.  We comfort her, make any adjustments to the bed, windows etc that would make her more comfortable.  We use lidocaine patches and cream on her legs.  We massage her legs, give her her pain pills and occasionally apply cold compresses and ice.  This at a minimum takes a half hour, usually; the elapsed time to get her up is 2 hours in which we spend maybe an hour and half with her.

Anne takes the brunt of the care for Annie.  She has for the last 20 years.  She is usually the last person Annie sees at night and the first person she sees in the mornings.

Despite all of this, we get along okay. We are all stressed, but we also have quite a few laughs. The Annie Grannie is the toughest person I know. Check her out!

Annie has a website for her current medical conditions: