From DSD to Staff Instructor and beyond?
I started diving in 2012 as a birthday present to myself. People often ask me why I wanted to do it and it’s still something that I struggle to articulate. It’s just something I’d always wanted to try but never thought I could as I’ve never been the strongest swimmer or that confident in the water.
I began with a Discover Scuba Diving experience and from the moment I went under, I felt completely at home in the water and signed up to my Open Water course the next day.
My diving was limited to warm locations only to begin with. I only wanted to do this as a hobby and thought it would be a great thing to do on holiday and I went to Rhodes, Thailand, Egypt countless times and Australia and made sure that diving featured as part of all of these trips. My friend and dive buddy then decided to move to the other side of the world and I realised that if I wanted to continue diving, I would have to get my Dry Suit specialty and start diving in the UK to find a new group of people to dive with.
At this point, I started to realise that this was something that I really did want to do more and more and it became my main focus away from the mundane routine of the day job. I completed my rescue course in 2014 and this is when I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied until I had become a Divemaster and started life as a PADI Pro.
I was still suffering from some confidence issues thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do certain elements of the course well enough but due to the brilliant support that I received from Kerrie at Ocean Turtle Diving, I not only completed the course successfully but grew in confidence on a personal level which also filtered into other areas of my life.
Working as a Divemaster was both fun and challenging. I tried to be available for as many courses and training sessions as possible and nothing gave me a greater sense of achievement than helping someone overcome their nerves and get to the end of a Discover Scuba Diving experience having loved it as much as I had.
I was also fortunate enough to work as a Divemaster full time in Spain for a month and it was here that I decided that I once again wanted to step up to the next level as an instructor having been mildly frustrated that I couldn’t help or assist people with some of the scenarios that arose. Sure enough, I signed up to an IDC when I returned and not only that, I chose one that would mean I was one of the first to complete an IE linked with a Business qualification.
During the IDC, I realised that standing up in front of people and teaching them in a classroom was something that I was actually quite good at and building in the business modules which covered off a lot of knowledge and skills that I use in my day to day life meant that I was able to present in a way that people seemed to enjoy.
It was about half way through my IDC that I realised that although becoming an OWSI would be a brilliant achievement, it was the role of Staff Instructor that was my real goal and I set myself a target of achieving this by Easter 2017 which, considering my IE was in December 2016 was going to be a bit of a push.
The thing about pushing yourself to achieve a goal is that you learn a lot about yourself and when it’s something that you completely enjoy, you become fully immersed in the training and teaching to get there.
Once I passed my IE in the December, I went straight into training for Instructor specialties before the Christmas break where I actually gave myself the treat and reward of a weeklong liveaboard in the Red Sea. This was quite a welcome break as once I came back on, I was about to embark upon an intense few months of teaching and training to not only get the required number of divers certified to achieve my MSDT but to them complete the Staff Instructor course to reach my goal.
I’m not going to lie, it was a hard and exhausting few months. Balancing teaching, including taking students to Spain to complete a variety of courses, and my day job resulted in a constant loop of 7 day weeks. It didn’t feel like work though as it’s something that I completely and wholeheartedly enjoy. I even managed to successfully set up and run a day of teaching ProjectAWARE specialties to a handful of students to help build awareness of the plight of our oceans.
Did I manage to achieve my goal? I most certainly did and the best part was that I completed my Staff Instructor training with Kerrie with whom my professional journey began back in 2015.
Working as a dive instructor whilst having a full time job is hard, there’s no doubt about it but it is totally worth the late nights and long weekends in the water. The best bit for me is being able to share my enjoyment and love of diving with such a range of people from beginners and now to those starting their lives as instructors and I am looking forward to seeing where this life I have chosen takes me next.