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  • Writer's pictureNicole Olsen

Deep Diving in Tahoe

These photos were pulled up from the depths of Lake Tahoe. Which if you know anything about Lake Tahoe and its incredible depth it makes these images pretty extraordinary. It is estimated that if you were to take all the water out of the lake, you could cover the entire state of California in 14.5 inches of water. Fortunately for us, all these photos were recovered at a much more reasonable depth but a plunge none the less. The story of these images is as follows.

Sebastian, Asher and I were enjoying a lovely afternoon on Lake Tahoe doing some stand-up paddle boarding. The beach was beautiful, the water cold and clear. Everyone was having a blast, and I was there to record it all with Sebastian's GoPro. Paddling for distance is not really what this crew prefers. Nope, my kids like to use their boards as floating wrestling mats. Asher was jumping from board to board, taking joy in making everyone lose their balance and fall into the water, while his spidey skills prevented anyone from returning the favor.

Then mom had the great idea to go out as far as we dared. Once we were out as far as Asher’s courage would permit (which was really not that far), we patted ourselves on the back, viewing the lake floor far below the famously clear aqua blue water. Asher then asked Sebastian to pass him the GoPro so he could take a picture of ourselves in the deep end. What happened next will live on in the Olsen house in infamy.

Sebastian threw the GoPro at Asher.

Asher missed.

The GoPro hit Asher's board, knocking the floating handle off the device, sending the camera down, down, down to the bottom of the lake.

We all watched it fall to the ground in disbelief. Then Sebastian began to wail, loudly. Apparently, one of the last things his dad told him before going back to VA, was to be safe, have fun, and take care of the GoPro. “Oh NO!!!, Dad is going to kill me,” Sebastian screamed over and over.

Suddenly the lake felt a lot deeper, because I knew I had to try for it. I slowly took off my life vest and plunged into the cool water, begrudging my children and their devices, because my swimsuit had finally dried since Asher last knocked me off. Asher began screaming, “NOOO, don’t go! You’ll DIE!!!" while Sebastian pleaded with me to go regardless so that he wouldn't die. Keeping my breath was hard because of the cold not to mention the incredibly poor shape I am in, but I was able to reach the bottom, for like two measly seconds, hardly enough time to locate a 5-inch metal box in the infinite silt.

If only I had goggles. Then I could definitely find it. I told the boys. So Asher set off on his board to find a good Samaritan with goggles, while Sebastian and I tried not to drift from the scene of the incident, which on a vast lake with very few landmarks was nearly impossible. By the time we enlisted someone to help us in our cause, we were hopelessly adrift. We had a general idea as to where the camera might be...maybe. It seemed hopeless and we resigned ourselves to the fact that the GoPro was now the property of Tahoe. I thanked the man and gave Sebastian, who was now sobbing, the bad news.

We began to paddle back to shore but decided to make a final and futile loop of the area from atop our boards. And then out of the corner of my eye, like a gleaming pink dream, I saw it. Side note: We had to order a replacement piece for the GoPro, and they sent it in pink. Sebastian was until this day endlessly mocked by his brothers for his pink GoPro.

We frantically called back the goggles man, and he confirmed there it was, just below us. He tossed me the goggles, “I don’t want to dive down and get it,” he told me. Okay, I can do it, and down I went this time recovering the camera with all its priceless photos. Now it was in hand but I was out of breath and still at the bottom of the lake, so I kicked as hard as I could off the floor shooting back up to the surface. But my children so preoccupied with what I was doing had strategically placed their boards right over my head. I quickly skirted around my two brilliant children and came up gasping for air.

We thanked the goggles man, and with the GoPro in my possession, I climbed back on my board; well flopped and squirmed my way onboard looking like a wounded beached whale. In the whole struggle of it all, I knocked the GoPro from my hands and down it fell to the bottom of the lake for the second time. We repeated the whole process and this time I before mounting my board I placed the camera in the most secure spot a woman in a bathing suit has available…betwixt her breasts. Goggles man's jaw dropped as he saw this whole thing play out, but I did not bother getting embarrassed, I still had to flop onto my board.

So please enjoy the photos below. They came at a great struggle.

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