I have always loved the water and so it was no surprise to me that I instantly fell in love with diving in 2017 during my Open Water course in Indonesia. Spending considerable time underwater, immersed in the marine world, is just such an amazing experience. It’s a hard feeling to describe. Some people say diving gives you the feeling of weightlessness, but honestly, for me, I just feel so relaxed. As soon as I am under the water, I am so calm and can just marvel at the beauty of the underwater paradise. In 2019 I came out to Gozo to complete my divemaster training (DMT) with Ritual. My original plan was to stay for 3 months, but 6 months later, I still haven’t left, and I can proudly say I am now a RAID and SSI Open Water Scuba Instructor.
I arrived in Gozo in July and spent 3 months diving almost every day – honing my skills; navigating all the dive sites; organising, planning and leading dives; and learning how to maintain and service the equipment and fill cylinders. During the DMT course, I also had the opportunity to shadow instructors and help with teaching. In doing so I realised I had a real passion for teaching. It is such a rewarding feeling sharing your enthusiasm for diving with others, and watching students develop and improve, especially those who may have struggled or even had a fear of the ocean at first. Every course I shadowed I fell more and more in love with teaching and the feeling of pride once you’d completed a course and taught a student. So when the opportunity came to complete my instructor course at the start of October, I dived (excuse the pun) straight into it after my divemaster!
The Instructor Development Program (IDP) was a 12-day course which ran at the start of October. Myself and two others (Kristian and Doris) completed the course, and we were incredibly fortunate to have the best Instructor Trainer – Rach! The course involved both classroom learning and practical, hands-on teaching. Classroom presentations covered everything from the history of RAID and the dive industry, to the marketing and business of diving. The IDP builds and extends the skills learnt during your divemaster to an educator level. By the end of the course, you must be comfortable and confident in delivering academic, confined-water and open-water presentations and are assessed on these three aspects during the Instructor Examination (IE). It is a significant step up from a divemaster to an instructor, and a steep learning curve too! However, I was highly motivated to start teaching and had constant support and guidance from Rach, Toby and the other instructors at Ritual.
During the IDP our days were long. We started at 8am and continued working on our presentations for the next day way past 8pm at night! But I threw myself 100% into the course and gave all my time and energy. I wanted to know that I had tried my best and given my full potential. The instructor exam itself was a two-day exam, and I will remember the moment we found out we’d passed for the rest of my life! We were under the water and had just completed our open water skills session. Our examiner, Oli, came up to us one by one and shook our hand. It was at this moment we knew we’d all passed, and it was a whole wave of emotions! We were all hugging each other underwater (which by the way with a massive cylinder on your back, is easier said than done) and it was just the best feeling ever!
The IDP was the most tiring, hardest 2 weeks ever! We had a lot of ups and downs, some tears, and some days where we doubted whether we were good enough. But it was also the besttwo weeks ever! We developed so much as divers and people and learnt an incredible amount. It was honestly so much fun and so rewarding. I also couldn’t have completed the course without the help of Kristian, Doris and obviously Rach! We were such a tight knit group by the end of the course – a family – and I cannot stress how important that relationship is between instructor candidates and their instructor trainer! So even after those ‘down’ days, where things didn’t necessarily go to plan, we picked each other up, put on the Backstreet Boys, and had a little dance down in the dive centre!
A few weeks after completing my instructor course, I was lucky enough to teach my first course under the supervision of Amanda, one of Ritual’s instructor’s last season. I was teaching one student the RAID Deep 40 course and it was brilliant to be able to put all of what I’d learnt into practice. The Deep 40 course is a two-day course involving an academic session and four open water qualifying dives. I started the course with a short theory session and I really enjoyed having some free play, teaching the academics in my own style. I instructed the four qualifying dives and loved being responsible for organising the compulsory deep skills, such as the underwater narcosis test, and observing the effects of colour and pressure at depth. The whole course was awesome, and I was really proud of myself and how I’d conducted my first ever course. It was great to see just how far I had come!
I am really excited to be working as an instructor at Ritual next season and to continue developing and improving. As a newly qualified instructor I still have a lot to learn but I am really excited for what’s to come and taking every opportunity that comes my way!