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Chad Concelmo says:

Swimming with dolphins: A journey in pictures

// Submitted @ 12:30 PM on 02.23.2009


First off, I have to thank the Destructoid community for everything you are about to read. Without you guys this never would have happened, so Ö thank you from the bottom of my heart. <3

As some of you may know, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine this past Saturday: swimming with dolphins.

A few months back a large handful of Destructoid community members chipped it to buy me a birthday present in the form of an Interactive Dolphin Program at Sea World in San Diego.

It was the greatest experience of my entire life.

But letís start at the beginning.

Honestly, everything from the minute I woke up until I arrived at Sea World was a giant OMG blur. It goes without saying that I was in an extremely happy mood.

But donít take my word for it. Let these pictures speak for themselves:


OMG I GET TO SWIM WITH DOLPHINS TODAY!


OMG SHOWER!


OMG GETTING DRESSED!


OMG CEREAL!


OMG WALKING MY DOG LUNA!


OMG BRUSHING MY TEETH!


OMG DRIVING TO SAN DIEGO!


OMG MORE DRIVING!


OMG SOME MORE DRIVING!


Boo, traffic.


OMG THE TRAFFIC IS GONE!


OMG GAS!


OMG IíM ALMOST THERE!


OMG I PARKED IN LOT E3!


OMG THE ENTRANCE TO SEA WORLD!


OMG I AM ONLY A FEW STEPS AWAY!

And then I arrived.

The Dolphin Interactive Program.



Once I checked in I was placed in a group with five other people (more on something amazing relating to this later) and brought into a classroom.



Here, we learned a little about dolphins, including what they eat (rainbows!), where they live (an undersea kingdom!), and who is destined to be their king (me!). Seriously, though, the classroom portion was basically just a refresher course on what not to do when handling a dolphin: poke it in its eye, stick your hand in its mouth, or cover its blowhole. Thankfully, I was not planning on doing any of those three things.

Once the class was over, our group was led into a locker room, where I promptly changed into my wetsuit.

I wanted to run right into the GIANT TANK FULL OF DOLPHINS that was only a few feet away, but, sadly, I had to wait for the entire group to get ready.

Okay, now what I am about to tell you is super embarrassing. But we are all family and you would never laugh at me for this, right? Right?

As we walked to the ladder to descend into the GIANT TANK FULL OF DOLPHINS I actually stopped myself because I started feeling a little strange. The rest of the group was lowering themselves into the freezing cold water and I was just standing there like an idiot.

All of a sudden I realized what was happening: I was bawling like a four-year-old girl.

Oh, yeah. No joke. I was so emotional about getting in the water with the creatures I have been obsessed with since I was a little kid that I just lost it.

The trainer (Kelly) asked me if I was okay and I think I made up some lame excuse that something was stuck in my eye. But instead of saying that, it came out of my mouth sounding something like this: ďZiím pine. I zust fink I *sniff* has zomethink *sniff* stick un my eyebz.Ē

Ugh.

Once I pulled myself together I threw caution to the wind and just hopped right into the water (screw you, ladder!). I saw the trainer do that as well and wanted to do anything I could to be like her.



The entire session lasted for about an hour, but I swear it is hard to remember the details. I was in such a haze of happiness that I could barely focus on anything.

As a group, we got to swim with the dolphins (a mother and daughter pair that were the cutest things I have ever seen), get pushed around the tank by the dolphins, feed the dolphins, train the dolphins, and pet the dolphins. I, naturally, reached out and tried to pet the amazingly smart creatures every time they passed by us -- all this to the chagrin of the trainer (sorry, Kelly!).

Sadly, I could not bring my camera with me so I was at the mercy of some of the Sea World employees to grab a few shots as I was in the tank. While I would have loved to have more shots of me swimming in the water with the dolphins, the employees did a great job of getting some pretty memorable pictures.

I wonít bore you will all of them, but here are a few of my favorites:


Um, yeah ... that's me and a dolphin.


















The dolphin is making the Chad face. My God, could this day have been any more amazing?!

And now for some of the highlights (well, the ones I remember/were conscious for):

-I got to train the mother and daughter dolphins on my own once. Using a simple hand motion, I instructed them to swim to the other end of the tank and return to me ďwalkingĒ on the water with their tails. Yup, doing that made me cry again. :/

-Every time you kissed the mother dolphin on the head it would make this ridiculously cute sound -- kind of like a baby laughing. It was amazing.

-One of the guys in my group contacted the Sea World people beforehand and had them put a note in a giant plastic bottle that the dolphins use for a toy. During the training, the dolphin brought the bottle to this guyís girlfriend. She opened the bottle and read the note. THE NOTE ASKED HER TO MARRY HIM! There was even a ring attached! You better believe I cried after this happened! Note to whoever is going to propose to me someday: this is how it needs to happen.

I obviously donít need to say that Saturday was the best day of my entire life. I truly feel like my life changed after the experience of swimming with the dolphins. Call me overdramatic, I donít care. You can call me anything you want! I got to swim with dolphins and I am so freakiní happy!

Thanks again to the people that made this happen. There arenít enough smiley face emoticons to express my eternal gratitude. :)

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