Down Under Diaries - Nikki Blue

I've been given many names or titles in my life, including: The One, The Baddest Girl Breathing, and even Superwoman. Today, I adopted the name 'The Little Mermaid', which was given to me by Lauren Pedersen (aka Lo). As I take you through today's journey, you will find out how the tiny BLUE fish from Bakersfield, California turned into the Little Mermaid of Australia.

Friday, July 1, 2005

My teammates applauded and praised me for having the courage to conquer my fear of this journey. After the fact, I was quite proud of myself also, but I must admit, while I was choking on the salt water during the adventure, I had doubts as to whether or not I had made the right decision to engage in this activity. Now anyone who knows Nikki knows that Nikki does like the ocean, nor does she like boats, and she definitely doesn't like the animals in or out of the sea! Today, Nikki was tested in a major way.

We started our day at 7:45 am, traveling by boat from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef. The trip there took about 2 1/2 hours, and believe me, all 180 minutes I was a nervous wreck because I was fearful of the unknown. We watched the land disappear off the horizon, and once we were in the middle of nowhere ... we stopped. Yes, in the middle of NOWHERE! I had envisioned us stopping at an island with exotic trees and white sands, but instead our destination was a floating platform. I had previously promised myself that I would not get an attitude or complain, so no matter how unsafe I thought this whole deal was, I went with the flow. Once we ate lunch, we were informed that it was time to snorkle. (Another note: Nikki does not snorkle!)

However, I threw on a tight blue wetsuit and followed my teammates' lead. I honestly thought the water was freezing, but since no one else complained, I tried my best to act as if the water was comfortable to me. Unfortunately, my bottom lip wouldn't stop quivering, and that alone blew my front. Once fully in the water, I attempted to dip my face in to get a view of the coral and fish beneath us. As soon as I did, a HUGE fish greeted me by swimming right next to my ear ... and of course ... I went crazy! I opened my mouth to scream at the fish to get away (mind you, this is all underwater), and salt water poured into my mouth, lungs and stomach. I choked a couple more times before I got the hang of breathing in and out of my mouth only (and not trying to scream at the fish helped too!). Once I gained my composure and accepted the life jacket that the lifeguards told me I should wear, I got to swim far out into the ocean where my teammates were waiting for me.

The coral and fish were amazing! It was fascinating because the closest that I had ever been to a fish was the aquarium in my dentist's office or in the backyard in a deep fryer; but here I was swimming with them. I saw blue, yellow, brown, white, spotted, striped, the size of puppies, the size of quarters and all other sorts of fish. KO even tried to point out a small shark to me (thank god I didn't know what she was pointing at!).

I still cannot fully explain how amazing this experience was. My teammates and coaching staff helped me through this, and I conquered my fear of fish and the ocean. This trip is the ultimate definition of what teamwork is all about. These are my girls for life, and I wouldn't have wanted to be on this trip to Australia with any other group of people. We each have individually grown from the entire Australian experience, and we each have made a vow to bring something positive that will make the 2005-06 season a successful one. And don't let the name 'Little Mermaid' fool ya ... Y'all all know that I am much more graceful on the court than I am in the water!!!

See ya' in November, Bruins!!!

Nikki Blue #32

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