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Message Icon Event: Jennifer Lexa - Event Date: 19 May 2008 Post Reply Post New Topic
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Quote scubazine Replybullet Calendar Event: Jennifer Lexa
    Posted: 19 May 2008 at 07:42

DAN Member and avid diver Jennifer Lexa has been in (and under) the water since she was 11. A competitive synchronized swimmer for more than three decades, Jennifer took the inevitable plunge into scuba diving just last year, trading piroettes for giant strides and underwater spins for fin pivots.

“I’ve always been a water person, spending three days a week training in the pool,” she recalls. “I can’t tell you how many times people would ask me if I was a scuba diver or suggested I get certified. Diving was always an option, but not one near the top of my list.”

That all changed two years ago when she joined her mother for a Caribbean cruise that included several diving hotspots. Highly competitive and involved in many sports in addition to swimming, Jennifer quickly discovered the advantages scuba diving experience delivers. “I love scuba because it’s the only sport that I do that isn’t competitive. I get to just be me and not worry about winning.” She adds with a smile, “It’s certainly a welcome change to NOT be judged for my underwater form and technique.”

A seven-time national champion who today still spends nearly 8 hours a week in the pool, Jennifer now competes for the Multnomah Athletic Club near her home in Portland, Oregon. She’s heard all the jokes and endured her share of snickers, but she claims her water skills can easily rival casual swimmers and even expert divers. “It’s standard for us to tread water with our hands over our heads, swim upside down and spin. That’s tough to do. And of course, we always have to smile and look our best.” She jokes that she’s also become a master of “water-proof” make-up.

Although there isn’t much diving in her local area, after returning from the cruise (which included warm water stops in Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica), Jennifer adapted the way most avid Northwest divers do – she bought a dry-suit and began taking regular trips North to Puget Sound.

“I love cold water diving – especially in the winter. Everyone knows what they are getting into so there is little complaining or whining,” she says. “Cold water diving requires extra equipment and a little extra patience, but it’s worth it. I enjoy getting to know the other divers on my weekend trips. Everyone is helpful and understanding. Complete strangers are willing to help me zip up my dry suit. It’s a great experience.” She recently bought an extra cylinder for Argon gas to use in her dry suit to help keep her warm in the frigid 45 degree water she regularly encounters during the winter.

It’s easy to see that this blonde certainly has more fun – especially when it comes to scuba diving. “When I’m competing, we have to hold our breath, sometimes for extended periods of time. Holding your breath is what you DON’T want to do when you dive. Being able to actually breathe underwater is one of the things that makes scuba diving most appealing to me.”

During the day, Jennifer works as a computer programmer and IT specialist serving a wide range of international clients. Naturally, her “technical side” quickly merged with her “scuba side.” “Diving technology certainly appeals to me. Since I am in IT, a dive computer was one of my first purchases. I love having all the data at my fingertips. I even synch my computer with my Palm Pilot so that I can look at the graph of my dives and test myself so that I never set off any of the alarms.” Of course, all the practice in the world can’t prevent unforeseen situations. “OK, I admit that I did set off the rapid breathing alarm when I saw my first shark in Honduras - but I’m working on it.”

One of Jennifer’s first major decisions after becoming certified was to become a DAN member. “We were diving in some remote locations and it was important to be prepared. The cost of evacuation would be way too high in the event of an accident if I did not have insurance. I felt much better carrying the DAN card in my gear bag.”

That wasn’t the only DAN card Jennifer started to carry. A true supporter of DAN and its mission, she also signed up for a DAN credit card. “I stopped using my checking account and started making all my purchases using the DAN credit card. Every month I pay it off in full. It’s absolutely amazing how quickly those points add up. I already have enough for a trip to the Caribbean . Now the only question is, where do I want to go diving?”

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