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Abyss Scuba Diving

From A Mothers Point Of View

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Throughout my time as an Instructor, I have taught a few kids to dive, but I have to say that the standout for me was teaching my own daughter Hannah to dive for her 11th birthday. While kids from the age of 10 can attain their Junior Open Water Cert, the biggest obstacle to this is making sure your kid is big enough to fit into the gear ( a minimum of 45kgs), and also strong enough to carry it.

I'm lucky, Hannah is taller than I am (I am 5 foot 9), and like a fish in the water so we were already off to a good start! The first step was for her to complete her e-learning, it takes around 10 - 12 hours to complete, and is designed for kids as young as her to understand. Our agreement at the outset was that I was her instructor first and her mother second (even though you never stop being a mum!), so while I'd help her with her homework, I wouldn't do it for her, and to her credit, she came to me with only question and didn't tell me when she did her exam!!

When the day came to start the in-water work, she was so excited she had barely slept. As I've mentioned, Hannah is super comfortable in the water so she had no issues in the pool learning the confined water skills. It was actually quite wonderful to watch as Hannah's confidence in the skills she was doing grew throughout the course of the morning.

After we had finished the confined water session we took a lunch break and debriefed the morning session and I answered questions that Hannah had. One of the observations that Hannah had was that having done all of the theory, it really made sense why she was learning and doing what she was in the pool. I was super proud that she was taking the whole process so seriously, and that she was actively thinking about what she was doing and connecting the dots…. I mean, she had watched me go through the whole process of becoming a Divemaster and then at a later stage working to become an Instructor, so maybe that's why at such a young age the approached it the way she did…

The time came for Hannahs first ocean dive. I briefed her on what we would be doing and we geared up and got in the water. It was such a surreal experience to be in the water and assessing my own daughters skills. After she had completed her skills, we went exploring and it was such a wonderful experience watching her see everything for the first time and introducing her into my "other" world. She came out of the water SO excited and she just couldn't stop talking about al of the things she had seen. She was pumped for day 2!

Day 2 came along, we arrived at the dive site (Bare Island) and the conditions were perfect, however there were a couple of challenges that came up. Firstly, its a long walk for a kid to make with all of the gear on. I helped her, but tiredness was something that had to be factored in. Hannah also had a little trouble equalising which I think came from being a little more nervous as she knew she was going deeper that day. We worked through it, and once she overcame that, she was once again super comfortable. She nailed all of her skills, and once again I was able to observe the wonder of watching my kid explore this whole new world.

As a mum, I can't begin to express how proud I was of her with the way she approached the entire experience. I personally feel that she has come away with so much more than just an open water cert. Learning how to dive, and being in a new environment, and seeing and experiencing all there was to see (Im fairly certain nearly every creature at Bare Island came out to play that day!) has given Hannah a wonderful new perspective that definitely has a ripple effect. She is interested in Marine Biology, she is very aware about conservation and the need to reduce the use of plastic, and it has given her confidence. Through her diving, her friends are now asking questions, they too are now learning about creatures that some of them had never heard of before, Hannah is challenging and changing opinions about sharks and raising awareness in places where before there was none. Learning to dive has truly been a gift that just keeps giving!

As for me, I gained the best dive buddy I could hope for. I can't wait to see where it takes her, and Im so proud that I have been such a big part of it.

 What Hannah said…..

 "Learning to dive was absolutely magical, especially when your mum is your dive instructor. Diving is like a getaway, you get to explore a place that many people don't. The process of learning to dive was quite easy, the e-learning was done in a day or two, and I was pumped to get into the real thing. When in came to the actual in water process, I had trouble equalising, but mum slowed the process down and was really patient, and let me take the time I needed to feel comfortable. Diving raised an awareness in me that I hadn't had otherwise, after diving with sharks, its made me realise that the way sharks are portrayed as mindless man-eaters is terrifyingly wrong, and its made me want to help people see them for what they are, the most misunderstood creature in the ocean."

By :ALISON FARRELL