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Being Blind Doesn’t Stop Minn. Woman From Scuba Diving

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BURNSVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — For most people, it’s the limited ability to breathe that scares them about scuba diving. But imagine if you couldn’t see while diving.

That’s a feat a 25-year-old woman from New Hope has decided to take head-on.

Asha Duncan was born blind. Although she has no ability to see, she hasn’t let that stop her from pursuing a life dream.

Most people might find a situation underwater a bit frustrating. Duncan overcomes her frustration with a smile.

Duncan said she first got the idea to scuba dive when she saw the shark tank at the Mall of America on Oct. 18, 2008.

Duncan said being underwater is the one time her heightened sense of hearing goes silent.

“I like the feeling of it, because you’re weightless underwater, and you don’t hear much sounds. And if you do, you can’t really tell where the sounds coming from,” Duncan said.

Gary Shaleen is the owner of Fantasea Scuba and Travel in Burnsville. Duncan called Shaleen to see if he’d be willing to teach her.

“It was a no-brainer. Let’s do it!,” Shaleen said.

During Duncan’s final certification test, Shaleen swam close by to offer Duncan assistance.

“So we’re just basically right next to each other, following each other along. So, we’ll give okay signals, she’ll feel my hand, then she’ll give okay back, or if we’re going to go down or go up, we’ll communicate,” Shaleen said.

Duncan completed her last swim test on Wednesday, becoming a certified instructor.

“Of course, some people think I’m crazy, but that’s just what they think,” Duncan said.

When WCCO-TV asked Duncan where the first place was she would scuba dive, “Mall of America,” she said.

Duncan said she plans to one day travel to the Great Barrier Reef to swim with the dolphins.

The only limitation Duncan faces when she dives is she must always be accompanied by two supervisors.

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