Where Are They Now...?

Nicoles Underwater World

Nicole in the pool

Diving is one of those things that you simply cannot fathom until you experience it yourself. For me, like many, diving started as a box waiting patiently to be ticked off, on my list which also included hiking the Himalayas, motorcycling through the highlands of Vietnam, sky diving, and visiting Mt Fuji.

None of my usual travel buddies were divers. So it wasn’t until I was on a solo backpacking trip in Malaysia, that I finally had the opportunity to try it out. I spoke to some travellers who recommended muck diving off Mabul Island, and Barracuda Point at Sipadan, which is located off the east coast of Sabah, Borneo. I didn’t know much else about diving, so I took their advice and made a bee-line for the island.

During my first confined-water training session, as soon as I knelt on the bottom, I saw a flamboyant cuttle fish, changing colour and texture, AND catching its prey! I was hooked.

Within a week, I was an Advanced Open Water Diver, and had almost 20 dives.

Returning to my life in Sydney, I loved my job as a program coordinator in a museum, but diving was always on the brain. I was frustrated by not knowing how to access the Sydney dive community. I knew there must be one, but I didn’t know how to find them. I had no existing dive buddies, and I had no idea where to dive. I dived with a few shops, but weren’t very active, and it was hard to find people my age. It wasn’t until I discovered Abyss Scuba Diving’s frequent and free Divemaster-led shore dives that things really took off. I got my sister into diving, and soon we were diving most weekends and meeting loads of like-minded people.

At this point, I was looking for a new challenge. I loved sharing knowledge and experiences of diving, so it seemed natural to begin training to become a PADI Professional. I looked into the Divemaster and Instructor Development courses, and all of the different options Abyss have for achieving the Instructor rating. I decided to go with the Internship option, as I was diving so often with Abyss, I figured that the free tanks and weights would really pay off! Also, the two to four weeks working on Mike Ball Dive Expeditions (world renowned liveaboard!) or on Lady Elliot Island, really sweetened the deal.

Once I became a Divemaster, my confidence grew exponentially. I felt confident to dive independently with a buddy, and to guide groups of other divers to my favourite spots. A highlight of being a Divemaster was taking people diving with seals at Wollongong.

On the first day of the IDC, I felt that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. But the support of the Abyss staff, our Course Director for the IDC, Carl Fallon, and all of the other IDC candidates, really made the experience an enjoyable challenge. There were loads of laughs, huge achievements, and only a few tears. It was the best thing I’ve ever done – it was a significant personal challenge that really pushed me and showed me what I can achieve when I put my mind to it.

Now, I’m a PADI Open Water Scuba Diver Instructor, and will soon be a Master Scuba Diver Trainer.

Nicole Diving

Not only do I now have an incredible amount of amazing dive buddies – I’ve also made very close friends through the Divemaster and Instructor Development Courses. We not only dive together, but we are there for each other in all areas of life. And as for my land-dwelling friends who were never into diving – after seeing my journey on Facebook, they’re now lining up to get in on the action!

I can’t wait to share this passion, and give friends and strangers alike, the gift of being able to explore the infinite, awe-inspiring and ever-changing underwater world.