PHOENIX, Ariz. – Tough week at the office? Why not relax by strapping on an air tank and regulator, slipping into fins and goggles, and swimming dozens of feet under the ocean with a couple sharks? It works for Susan Frank, CEO of Desert Schools Federal Credit Union. However, she does admit the shark encounter soon after being certified as a scuba diver five years ago was, well, a little unnerving at first. “On my very first dive, in Mexico, I found myself swimming very close to two nurse sharks. After the initial reaction of, `Oh my gosh that’s a shark!,’ it was pretty cool,” Frank recalls. Scuba diving may seen an unusual hobby for someone living in Phoenix. Yes, she loves the mountains, desert and lifestyle there. At the same time, she’s drawn to the ocean. “I love the ocean and enjoyed snorkeling for years, but was frustrated I could never get close enough to the underwater world. The only solution was to get certified.” That certification allows her to dive 100 feet down, although the deepest she’s gone is 97 feet. Two specific sites are a tossup for her favorite – Maui, Hawaii, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In both places, Frank notes, there is lots to see, a large variety of beautiful fish, and warm water. “To me, what makes a good site is dependent on visibility and the variety of sealift,” she says. “The clearer the water, the more enjoyable the dive. Swimming with beautiful fish, incredible plant life, sea turtles, octopus, star fish and sharks makes for a much better dive than when there’s just rocks and sea cucumbers to look at. “It’s a fascinating world under the sea. When I’m diving it’s like I’m part of it. It’s amazing to see the interdependency of the sea life, how complex yet how simple it is. It’s a whole new world. It’s what I imagine exploring another planet would be like. There’s a total absence of stress – OK, not when I first came face-to-face with the sharks – a weightlessness and the unique ocean sounds that are freeing.” -

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