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The Diabetic Diver Certifies

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Back in September 2023 Oyster Divers supported Sam Stimpson with the start of his Open Water Diving course.

The motivation for The Scuba News UK following his journey into the sport was due of the barriers he faced as a Type 1 Diabetic. Being told many times that Diabetics cant dive, that it is too unsafe and not possible motivated him to find a way.

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Oyster Divers were enormously supportive of Sam and his training and about any limitations he may have. They also supported booking the second part of his diver training which has just been completed in Malta successfully.

When looking for dive locations to certify, Oyster recommended several settings within budget to complete training and when investigating further Sam sought guidance from PADI who confirmed that…

‘Malta’s caves, reefs and wrecks are reached from either the shore or by boat and are suitable for beginners, advanced and technical divers.

One of Malta’s most popular dive sites is the Blue Hole. The dive begins in a pool at 12 m and leads through a crevice – your window to the ocean’s clear blue waters and the octopus and lobster that live amongst the rock. Bright orange and silver parrot fish also greet you. Advanced divers marvel at the atmospheric reflections in deeper caves.

Wonderful arches and swim throughs take you to a Madonna statue where scorpion fish come to pray for forgiveness. Luckier divers may spot a triggerfish. Due to the site’s topography it is recommended for night dives. If you’re not qualified in wreck diving – Malta could be the place to learn.’ PADI website.

Now a certified diver Sam wants to share his story to support others looking to dive with anxieties and to share what he has seen under water and his engagement into previously foreign environments. 

Paradise Beach Hotel and Paradise Diving provided an incredible location and base for Sam to dive. Minutes from the ferries to the Comino islands and Gozo and almost on top of the famous Rozi wreck, it was a perfect spot to stay. A 5 Star IDC Centre that has been established for over 20 years, facilitating over 39 dive locations around the Maltese Islands and most importantly, open all year round.

The second part of his open water course involved donning his gear and stepping away from the pool and classroom and into the sea. Preparation with any sport is key and this was no different for Sam. Managing his glucose levels and packing treatment for the boat and beach entries were no different from remembering to pack the emergency O2 or someone’s asthma pump. 

Every diver should consider potential risks and hazards before diving and a medical condition just means more considerations and more responsibility in terms of knowing and communicating how you are feeling throughout your dive day.

Sam, eager to learn mastered his open water dives, practicing skills at St Pauls Bay under the expert and friendly instruction of Rob from Paradise Divers. Rob was a fantastic character, fun and kind and incredibly accommodating throughout the course. A really thorough chap with a wonderful way of making you feel safe and encouraging you every step of the way to enjoy the course. He fine tuned what Sam had learnt in the UK and in addition offered advice and guidance from his own expansive career as a diver.

St Pauls Bay also offered up a truly bizarre coincidence and chance meet with Ricardo Trabulo, a diver I met back in Thailand some years ago. Moments before he popped up from the bay, out of the water with his students I had been talking about how fantastic he was and then as if by some weird dive magic, he appeared. An extremely qualified and professional instructor who I had previously dived the Similans in Thailand with. The small dive world that continually crosses paths. A lovely surprise.

Sam was lucky enough to not only find calm conditions on a sunny Maltese day at his first site but also at his second on Manoel Island where he completed his 3rd and qualifying dive on the historic X127 Water Lighter (Coralita) wreck. We were further more lucky to meet Dave Mallard at the site who had completed 4 years worth of research at the site and was nothing short of an expert on its history. A wonderful spot of luck to meet him there and hear all about it.

Sam seemed a natural with his buoyancy ability and understanding skills but he had to really consider his health before and after dives. He had to manage what could happen and stay in control to avoid rising or plummeting glucose levels which with food management and insulin administration actually seemed easier than anticipated. Diving actually supported a neutral level for Sam and his levels didn’t seem to fluctuate to any extremes at all.

We asked Sam if he felt nervous about the course and if he had reservations about his safety under water. We were also keen to know how he managed his glucose levels on dive days…

‘There was a reservation because I didn’t know how my body was going to react. I followed my care teams guidance (St Barts Hospital, London) to reduce a certain type of insulin three days prior to diving and to not inject on the day. The change in my blood sugar post dive was the same as what you would see on a normal day which built confidence with diving. I felt ok to push further forward with my training because I didn’t see a negative impact on my health from it.

The course was a lot less tricky than I thought it would be. My instructor Rob put me at ease and briefed me well. He was patient with the tasks I needed to complete on land and in water. Additionally to being a good instructor he inspired me. He wanted me to have a good dive and so looked for points of interest to break up the course and show me why diving is fun. We saw a wreck and followed an octopus which was a major highlight of my certifying dive.’ Sam Stimpson

The team at Paradise Divers were fantastic and you always remember who you learn to dive with. It is a special and treasured experience and this center came highly recommended and absolutely delivered. An enormous amount of gratitude for their approach to new divers and for their support in not only training but creating confident and safe divers.

Medical conditions do equate to more planning but they absolutely shouldn’t hold you back from trying new things.

A huge thank you to Rob for just being a wonderful instructor, for his patience and humour and his most excellent driving, yes driving as well as his diving.

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About Author

Chantelle is a PADI Master Instructor and Managing Editor of The Scuba News UK. Her passions lay in travel and conservation. she has been all over the world and worked on some exciting projects and dived some spectacular sites. Her thirst to explore and drive to meet and work with new and interesting people has motivated her to keep moving. She works in some extremely remote areas and has a strong media presence. She has worked with various magazines and media and is keen to promote the good work that she comes across and the individuals who really invoke change in their fields. She has dived for over 20 years and is always seeking out the next thrill and dive experience. She can be found at UK dive shows and online easily and is always keen to hear your stories and say hello.

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