Why We Dive: What Was Your Inspiration?

Whatever our reasons for joining the scuba community, we are all lucky enough to witness sights that most people will never see.

When asked, many divers describe the first time they took a breath underwater as life changing. As an instructor, I like to find out what inspired my students to enroll in a diving course in the first place; after all, diving goes completely against our basic survival instincts I interesting and varied answers — some people are adrenaline junkies, keen to push both mental and physical boundaries; others are explorers, hoping to unlock the ocean’s secrets. Some learn to dive to enjoy the sport with their scuba-diving friends or family; still others are nature-lovers, who dream of encounters with the weird and wonderful creatures of the aquatic world.

Like many others, my own inspiration for learning to dive stemmed from a childhood fascination with the ocean. My earliest memories include days spent exploring tidal pools with my father; days when even the chilly English winter wind could not dampen my excitement at discovering the tiny shrimp and starfish caught in the bottom of my net. Later, the BBC’s Blue Planet fueled my love of all things underwater — I can thank David Attenborough for my lifelong obsession with the sea in the same way that many others can thank Jacques Cousteau. It wasn’t until much later, however, that I progressed from snorkeling and swimming to actually signing up for my Open Water course. The trigger for me was the certification I needed in order to dive in a submersible cage with great whites in Guadalupe, Mexico. Once I became certified, I never looked back — after all, diving was like watching Blue Planet in high-definition 3D, only better. Many of my students share my story, and for them, learning to dive is the realization of a childhood fantasy. In fact, the desire to capture underwater film and photography of their own is often a big incentive for new divers.

Others may never have considered scuba, and for these people the inspiration to try diving often comes from a sudden change of circumstances. Some may be encouraged to try scuba as a form of either mental or physical therapy, particularly as part of a diving program aimed towards rehabilitating wounded war veterans. I once had the immense privilege of conducting a Discover Scuba Diving course for a lady who, having beaten cancer, wanted to take full advantage of her new lease of life — she was almost 80 years old. Similarly, I taught a young woman on New Year’s Day several years ago, whose resolution was to finally face her lifelong fear of water. In the end, diving proved to be a cathartic experience for her, helping her to overcome the trauma of a negative childhood incident. There are a thousand reasons to take up diving, and your particular inspiration may be as unique as you are.

Ultimately, although the specific triggers behind each individual’s decision to dive may differ, we all have one important thing in common. Every one of us belongs to a tribe of explorers and adventurers, people brave enough to experience an environment in which we should not be able to survive, but do. Whatever our reasons for joining the scuba community, we are all lucky enough to witness sights that most people will never see. It’s because of this that I think it’s worth asking yourself what inspired you to dive; after all, if your life was changed by that first underwater breath, it’s that inspiration that you have to thank. And perhaps you can help pass it on to someone else, someone yet to take the plunge.