Ever wonder what it’s like to learn to dive? Our Marketing Executive Chloe shares her experience with us.
I’ve always been a natural sports fanatic, getting involved in anything and everything I could to do with sport. I am extremely competitive and from a young age I was heavily involved in athletics and rugby, which drifted into football, and hockey and so on. Our family weekends consisted of getting up early, driving me to a match on a Saturday, and then the same on a Sunday, until I was old enough to drive myself. I’ve carried on at university, where I play hockey for Loughborough. So, it seemed fitting when I was introduced to the scuba world by my dad, and I knew I’d never look back!
My first ever dive was in Mexico in 2016. I did a try-dive at La Musa, the underwater sculpture museum created by Jason De Caires Taylor. I had no idea what I was doing, but at the young age of 16, I didn’t have any fears (a quality I wish I still had now). I was in extremely safe hands and was itching to get in the water. When I think about that first diving experience, I don’t remember setting up the kit, the pre-dive safety checks, the entry or descent – but I do remember the overwhelming feeling of “I can’t believe I’m doing this, this is crazy!” All I thought about was how little sense it made that I was breathing as normal, underwater, watching fish dash past me, weaving in and out of the Volkswagen Beetle sculpture. It didn’t make sense but I knew that I had to do it again! I also remember having to sort my mask out a ridiculous number of times, as I was constantly smiling and laughing, and it leaked and leaked.
My next scuba diving adventure was about a year later and this time it was becoming official, I was set to take my PADI Open Water Course! I was rather nervous considering I had only been on one try-dive over a year ago! I did a lot of studying at home (probably too much) and completed the online theory section of the course before we flew out to Egypt. We spent the week in Roots Red Sea in El Quseir, which sits between Hurghada and Marsa Alam on a really quiet stretch of coastline. If you haven’t been there, it’s a must! It’s a great base for learning to dive as well as for those who are already qualified – even at expert level!
Day One, and we were straight into the pool for our confined water skills such as taking my mask off or filling it with water. The Instructors were amazing, friendly, patient, super-relaxed and honestly, they made it so easy and fun. All the other drills and skills, like buddy-breathing, trying to hover and even simulating running out of air were far easier than I had expected! Then it was off to the house reef to put the skills we had learned in the pool to use – and WOW! Breathing underwater, surrounded by beautiful corals and exotic marine life. It wasn’t easy to concentrate on what we were supposed to be doing at all!
The biggest ‘learn’ for me was that this wasn’t like I had expected it to be – the learning is fun, and it isn’t difficult . Every lesson or skill has its use, and every dive you do, the skills fit into place more and more.
On the fourth day of our trip, we had one more dive to do and then we were qualified as Open Water Divers!! This last dive was really fun – no skills to demonstrate or learn, and we got to really focus on looking at the corals and marine life – we even spent time watching Nemo on a bright red anemone. It was beautiful. Then, as we headed up to the shallows to make our exit, we spotted puffer fish, a blue spotted stingray, some cuttlefish and some beautiful angel fish.
Once I was a Certified Open Water Diver, I felt like part of the group, a true scuba diver! I was rewarded on my first dive with a visit from a huge green turtle, who could believe it? My first ever turtle encounter immediately after passing, I was in awe!
Three years had passed since my certification, and much to my disappointment, I hadn’t been able to fit in anymore diving. Studies had taken over my life as I took my A-Levels, got into Loughborough University and settled into the university lifestyle. However, I was due to do a placement year where I secured a job with a physiotherapy clinic. As well as working there, my dad made the best decision of his life to hire me as the new marketing executive at The Scuba Place in mid 2020!
After a few months of working in my placement year, I was settling in and finding my rhythm. It hadn’t, by any means, been the easiest year for anyone due to Covid-19, let alone for a company working in the travel industry, but we were determined to soldier on. After having several trips postponed, we were eager to get the wheels off of the tarmac. Following some extensive research and planning, The Scuba Place put a trip together to Grenada for October 2020. To say that everyone on the trip was looking forward to it would be an understatement. Unfortunately, nothing comes easily as we did run into some troubles with travelling due to the pandemic. We have an article on this, so check out our other blog post ‘Travelling During a Global Pandemic’ to see how we handled it all. Thankfully, we made it to Grenada.
I set myself the challenge of furthering my diving experience and education with the Advanced Open Water, NITROX and Deep Diver certifications during the Grenada trip. For someone who hadn’t been diving in three years, I was a little nervous. However, as soon as I hit that water and dropped down, that feeling of uncontainable excitement was there. It all came back so naturally, and I was loving it! Every bit of coral, tiny little shrimp, fish and the underwater world itself blew me away all over again! I truly felt like a kid in a sweet shop, and I couldn’t believe all the wonderful things I was seeing!
During the trip to Grenada, I saw my first ever shark, had my first encounter with eagle rays, dived my first ever wreck, saw schooling creole wrasse at the aptly named dive site ‘Purple Rain’ and so many other beautiful things. I passed my Advanced Open Water, my Deep Diver and NITROX certifications! I also made a big gang of friends and buddies who I can’t wait to dive with again! I was so proud of myself, but especially thankful to everyone on that trip. From the dive centre staff, to my instructor, and our clients and friends. That is what scuba diving is all about and that is why I love it. It’s a true community. Everyone you meet shares the same passion, enthusiasm, care for others and love for scuba diving. That’s the most wonderful feeling, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.
I haven’t been diving long, and my journey has only just started, but I can’t wait to get back in the water as soon as we can to continue it!