Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving

‘Time stood still when I was in the water. It was awesome!”

I was an avid scuba diver prior to my accident and thought that like many things in my life since the accident, scuba diving was an experience that is out of my reach.

So when Zelda Norden from the Handicapped Scuba Association approached me in a parking lot late last year and asked me if I wanted to learn to scuba dive and go diving in Mozambique. I said “Hell Yes!”

Handicapped scuba divers undergo the same training as able-bodied scuba divers, however, the training is one on one and is adapted to each person’s disability. 

With my medical examination passed and having dived before, I breezed through the theory but the biggest challenge would be in the water. Would I be able to equalize? 

The first pool session in October 2010, in 3 feet of water at Midstream Estates went “swimmingly” well.  I managed to equalize and was able to perform all of the skills that Zelda asked me to do… maybe a bit slowly on some of them but I did them!

The highlight of the day was when I had to do my 25metre self-propelled swim on scuba across the swimming pool, dragging my instructor behind me.  It was a huge achievement, with my limited movement in my left hand I got both of us across the pool

With 2 shallow pool sessions under my belt, it was time for me to dive in a 5meter deep pool to see if I could equalize at depth. The H.S.A team organized a social with the Amaglub-glub club where I was able to meet and dive with other disabled divers.  A truly fantastic day, once again, I equalized and completed all of the tasks set by my instructor.

My dream to scuba dive again was soon to become a reality.  After much planning, early April saw us, my support crew and I, Team Cival, on the road to Guinjata Resort in the Inhambane province of Mozambique. 

What a long journey?  At times, I felt that we would never get there. We hit the border at one of those impossibly busy times, so much for our planning. I have a customized Sprinter, driven by Sam, my caregiver,  that looks like a taxi from the front, consequently every policeman on the EN1 in Mozambique pulled us over.  They would take one rather perplexed look at me sitting in his wheelchair and wave us on. 

After a long drive, made longer by the frequent police stops, a very grumpy and tired Team Cival finally arrived at the Guinjata Resort, to be welcomed by the dive center staff with ice cold, refreshing 2M beers. The resort has a couple of disabled friendly chalets with incredible ocean views and the dive centre has been refurbished to cater for the disabled.  

The first day at the resort, was declared a rest day with long beach wheelchair walks and a swim in the ocean for me, my first since the accident. 

Day two dawned, conditions were perfect and we were off to the dive site after an intensive briefing from Zelda for my first dive.

‘Time stood still when I was in the water. It was awesome.”

‘I could feel the cool water envelop me and I felt safe and free from the bonds of my wheelchair. It was so quiet - all I could hear was the hiss of my rig when inhaling and the sound of bubbles when exhaling. It was sheer bliss, I almost felt normal.”

After 5 memorable dives I was a qualified level C scuba diver with the H.S.A.

“It’s like conquering the impossible. It was pure joy. I thought that the scuba diving experience was out of my reach… it just goes to show that nothing is impossible if you believe.”

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Zelda Norden and Lynne Retief from the Handicapped Scuba Association, The management and staff at Guinjata Resort, Ama Glub-Glub dive club, Sinkwa Productions and my team, Team Cival.

Follow this link to see my scuba diving video and this one to see the scuba diving photo gallery.

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