TODAY   |  November 01, 2013

Contest winner boldly battles her fear of sharks

This week’s Be Bold contest winner, Genia Steele of Minnesota, faces her fears by swimming with sharks. Before her courageous dive, she had never seen the ocean before!

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it's time for our be bold contest. we asked you to submit a video telling us about the one thing you've always wanted to check off your bucket list but you have been terrified to do so.

>> this time, we chose gina steel of minnesota to be bold and conquer her fear of the ocean and swim with the sharks .

>> good for her.

>> let's take a look at gina 's submission.

>> the boldest thing i could do was swim with the ocean in sharks . first of all, to get in a bathing suit . i don't do that. shark, in the ocean, water that i can't see the bottom, that's my biggest fear ever.

>> oh, my gosh.

>> a lot of people feel that way.

>> we sent gina , who didn't even own a bathing suit and has never been to a beach, to swim with the fisheses.

>> calm down, we're not that bad. we didn't send her into the deep dark sea . we sent her to the florida aquarium in tampa, florida. take a look.

>> i have had this fear of swimming with sharks since i was probably 10:00 . after seeing "jaws."

>> i think gina 's like most of america, where they see sharks and they're certainly afraid of their menacing appearance and the impression they have based on the media.

>> when i look out at the water, i think what's under there.

>> today, she's going to overcome that fear by swimming right alongside these amazing creatures and see they're not interested in her as a food item.

>> i'm feeling way scared and nervous and i want to have a heart attack and fall over and do the floppy chicken right here and i'm afraid of this.

>> hi, gina , i'm erin. it's a pleasure to meet you. i'm going to be your dive master today. taking you in, diving with the sharks . are you excitede eexcited?

>> yes.

>> i'm going to need you to be blindfolded first. on the count of three, i need you to take your blindfold off. ready, 1, 2, 3. and take a look out.

>> i have to go in there?

>> you get to go in there. aren't you excited?

>> no. yes.

>> yes. it's a real coral reef , just like you see in the wild.

>> i don't see it in the wild though. i don't go in the wild.

>> those are our sand tiger sharks .

>> oh, my god, it's too big.

>> all right. well, we've seen the exhibit from outside. now are you ready to get inside and go for a swim?

>> okay.

>> how are you feeling?

>> i'm going to throw up.

>> well, that's okay. more fish food . where you are, just kind of crouch down and bend over and just put your face in the water.

>> oh, my god.

>> what did you see?

>> there's stuff over there.

>> they're right there, huh?

>> oh, yeah.

>> there's one right there.

>> there's a shark?

>> yes, here it comes.

>> those fish are very close.

>> they're so close. there was one in the water, just like in "jaws." it was so scary at first and i was screaming and everything. i would probably go in the ocean now. not too deep. but i wouldn't be as scared. i conquered my fear. i swam with sharks . i know. oh, my god, right?

>> wow, that's amazing.

>> good for her.

>> we've got gina steel, nerves of steel. from her home in laverne, minnesota. hi, gina .

>> hi!

>> you've had a chance to think and reflect on your experience. tell us a little bit about what it was like.

>> oh, my gosh, it was amazing. i'm still trying to process. i still can't believe i did it. tuesday, i was watching hoda and you had said your fear was to drive into the water.

>> yes, drown in the water.

>> and that is mine too. before i did this, i would have sat in the car and drowned.

>> oh, that's so great. and what did your six kids think of this, their mom overcoming her fear this way?

>> well, they're glad, because now i'm actually go to the lake with them instead of --

>> that's awesome.

>> we're so happy for you. thanks for joining us.

>> thanks for entering the contest. god bless you.

>> thank you very much, ladies.

>> all right.