5 Reasons to Start Diving Now
Saturday, July 18th 2015 was PADI Women’s Dive Day. All over the world, PADI-affiliated dive shop organized dive events exclusively for women. For women who were interested in participating but not already qualified as a diver, it was possible to attend and snorkel instead. Attendees could expect to also receive discounts on both Open Water and various advanced courses.
I attended the local event in San Diego, CA, where the dive took place at La Jolla Shores. My local dive group has a pretty good mix of men and women, so I hadn’t thought of diving as requiring a female focus. As it turned out, a lot of the women at this dive event had their own stories that established a specific narrative. Here are 5 reasons to start diving, based off of the stories of the women I met:
1. Learn to dive for yourself, and not for anyone else.
“When I was an instructor in a vacation destination, a lot of my female students were only there because their male partner bought the class and wanted them to dive with them.”
Diving is a wonderful experience, a fun sport, and you get to see the 80% of the world that is ocean. It really is for everyone—it’s one of the few sports that are great for people with injuries or disabilities. And it’s also something to do FOR YOU. Diving is my yoga: I focus on my breathing, I enjoy the sensation of the water around me, and I can enjoy it even if there is nothing to see (though it’s better if there is). It’s calming, it’s great to have other people around (you do need a buddy), but it’s always about one’s own experience.
There’s nothing wrong with learning to dive because it’s an activity you’d like to share with a significant other, but don’t do it because you’ve been nagged into it. Your reasons for loving to dive may not be the same as your partner’s, and it will only be fun if you truly find your own reasons to love the sport.
2. Conquer your fear.
“I didn’t get over my fear of diving until I had a baby. Then I felt like I could do anything”
For some reason, girls are socialized to fear life in a way that boys aren’t. Women spend their entire lives being told “girls/women can’t (fill in the blank)”. This can wear down even the most persistent and resilient women. Sometimes this socialization seeps into fear of trying new things, especially if it’s perceived as dangerous. Scuba diving is extremely safe. Just like driving a car, scuba diving is only dangerous if you fail to follow basic safety precautions, which are constantly emphasized throughout certification. For me, the scariest part of a dive is jumping or falling off the boat!
3. It’s really easy to love your body when you’re in neoprene.
I’ve struggled with body image my entire life, with early memories of self-consciousness during elementary school swim class. I live in Southern California, where there are a lot of thin women, and it can be a huge blow for self-esteem. I spent this last 4th of July weekend on a live-aboard dive boat with my dive club. I spent most of the weekend underwater in a neoprene wet suit, and the rest of the time was spent on the boat with that wetsuit rolled down to my waist. Diving takes all kinds of people, and while it’s a great workout, it means you get all kind of body types. For the whole weekend, I didn’t think about how what I ate was going to affect my hips, but how it would give me energy for the next dive. Nobody cared what anyone looked like, and it felt great.
4. Everyone was once a beginner, or: divers are friendly people.
“I got my open water certification a few months ago but didn’t want to burden a dive group with being a beginner, so I haven’t been in since.”
At PADI Women’s Dive Day, I was surprised that with 40+ dives under my belt, I was one of the more experienced divers. I’m one of the least experienced divers in my dive group, with some of the most seasoned divers having thousands of dives under their belt. Once I got certified (in Bahrain, perhaps the oddest place in the world to do so), I made sure I continued diving right away. I took additional skills classes and signed up for a dive club. This, as it turned out was critical.
Many divers get certified and then don’t keep diving. Don’t be afraid of being “the new gal” in your dive group. Everyone remembers when they were new divers and most are willing to buddy up with you. Your skills and confidence will increase rapidly! You’ve got this!
5. You see 70% more of the world when you dive: