Arwen Rich, a pupil in Year 9, has recently qualified as one of the youngest Master Scuba Divers in the world as well as one of the youngest rescue divers in the UK, and here shares her passion for diving, how she got started and her hopes for the future.
I began diving on my 8th Birthday in a pool in Ascot and did several “SEAL Team” dives at weekends but this was only ever in a pool.
My parents have always gone diving there whenever we go on holiday so just before one trip I decided I would like to go diving in the ocean with them. The easiest way to do this was on a PADI open water referral course where I did all the class work and technical skills in the UK and then the qualifying dives on holiday in the Maldives. This was a great decision - I saw so many turtles, rays anemones and sharks on one dive we even discovered a new coral block that they named after me! I ended up diving so much I managed to complete my advanced open water, night diving and Nitrox gas specialities,
Once we were back in England I decided I wanted to continue diving and become as qualified as I could so I did my Emergency First Responder First Aid which I put to good use in Langley one day when a man fainted and hit his head against some railings.
It also allowed me to take the Rescue Diver course, this was a very hard course over two days and wasn’t so much about diving itself, rather how to deal with other divers who are hurt, panicking or in trouble, I even had to carry my dad out of the water on my back at one point! I was lucky enough to pass it and at 12 became one of the youngest rescue divers in the UK. The next step for me was to become a master scuba diver, which is the highest level I would be able to achieve until I'm 18.
On our first holiday to Egypt I did a lot of diving and had reached almost 30 dives, however this is not enough to become a master scuba diver. So, back in England I did as much diving as I could to build up my dive log including diving in quarries and clearing out a freezing river Thames in preparation for the Windsor triathlon in zero visibility!
So on our second trip to Egypt I was determined to reach 50 dives and five specialities, I already had three so just needed two more and 18 dives which I completed by the end of the two weeks to fill my log book of 50 dives and become one of the youngest Master Scuba Divers in the world. Fewer than 2% of divers ever achieve this rating, so I am especially proud that I have achieved it by the age of 13!
Since then I have continued diving and have completed my dry suit speciality which means I can dive more in the UK as the water is much colder, and hope to be heading up to Lundy to dive with the seals in the spring.
Diving is an amazingly sociable hobby, everyone is incredibly friendly especially at my club Divecrew, and you get to hear (and tell!) some amazing stories and get to see and experience an incredible variety of plant and animal life, I hope now to go on and increase my skills and knowledge to become a DiveMaster as soon as I am 18 and then finally an instructor to introduce more people to my wonderful hobby..
Click here for some photos of Arwen in action!