Every now and then here over at Girls that Scuba we come across inspirational ladies that are aboutsely rocking the underwater world, and as proud as we are to have these females in our group we also want to share thier stories with the world. In order to do this we have set up ‘Scuba Stars’ highlightly scuba-chicks that are making waves in the scuba industry. Let us introduce to you Gemma Westgarth who is 13-years-old and Indigo Bolandrini, 15-years-old, two scuba girls that have acheived more in their scuba carrer than a lot of us; and they are stil teenagers
“Nothing is impossible, impossible is just a man made delusion” – Ahmed Gabr
Hey girls and welcome to Girls that Scuba. We are honoured to interview our youngest ever members and can’t wait to hear your story! Can you tell us how and when you first got into scuba diving?
Grace: I have always loved water and have been swimming since before I was 6 months old. In the summer of 2013, when I was 10 years old, I was on holiday in Sharm El Sheikh. My Dad asked if I wanted to do a try dive, and of course I said yes although I was very nervous. After I did it for the first time I just wanted to do more as it was such a good experience and I enjoyed it so much! So later that week I did my Junior Open Water course and passed at the same time as my Dad. When we got back to England we found a dive club that does weekly pool dives and that’s how it all started.
Indigo: I’ve always had on obsession with the sea and the marine life it inhabits! I’ve been a free diver since I was 3 years old and I was grown up in an environment surrounded by everything scuba! When I was 11 I finally took up my PADI Junior Open Water Diver with Orca Dive Club El Gouna, in Egypt where I currently live now. It was the start of an amazing journey which I am still trekking on today!
How has diving impacted your life so far?
Over the past 3 years I have gained so much through diving. A hobby, something interesting to do and talk about, I have made friends all over the world including Indigo in Egypt while I am here in England. Visiting dive sites and talking to other dive schools and clubs gives me much more confidence in everything I do. I have dived with NASE Worldwide’s Training Director, Scott Evans in Florida and we had the idea of me being a youth ambassador for NASE but I have to pass a challenging course which is being put together by NASE for me. I am working towards this and if I pass it will be amazing! I then became NASE’s first ever Junior Master Diver – such an honor. Diving is an amazing activity that I adore and gives me a different view on a world I never dreamed existed.
Diving had bought me so many amazing memories and introduced so many awesome people to my life. I’ve learnt so many skills, ideas and facts that I could never have learnt without scuba diving. I became one of PADI’s youngest Junior Master Scuba Divers in April 2014 when I was 12, and then in February 2016 I was honoured to become one of 5 PADI AmbassaDivers worldwide. I am always busy on my weekends diving and always happy to share my joy for this sport with the younger generation. It has allowed me to take up underwater photography and earn an international photography award – 2nd place in the World’s Ocean day competition 2016 ( youth ). It is my ultimate joy and I can’t wait to see what exciting adventure it brings me in the future. I also took part in Ahmed Gabr’s world record clean-up dive and I was the youngest diver there! I currently have 670 logged dives and I’m reaching for 1000!
Who are you ocean idols?
I really look up to Jacques Cousteau who co-developed the Aqua-Lung and was a marine conservationist, photographer, film maker, author and so much more. With his hit TV series ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau’ he changed the way people look at scuba diving. Indigo and I as administrators of International Teenage Scuba Divers got in touch with Jacques’ son, Pierre Yves-Cousteau, who said he is happy to help us promote our group. To me this is amazing support for the future of the sport and made me appreciate him and his father even more. But most of all, I look up to everyone who has helped me to become the diver I am now and who have supported me through my diving career so far.
“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” – Jacques Yves-Cousteau
My ocean idols are mostly the amazing instructors who have taught me their skills to become the diver I am today. Giving their time and patience with me from day one. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t even be a diver today.
However, I really look up to Leonardo Di Caprio because he cares so much about our environment and is so eager to help stop the damage being done – respect indeed.
What would you say to people that say you are ‘too young to dive’?
I would tell them that age doesn’t matter as long as you stick within the limits set by the various diving agencies. To be a good diver you don’t have to be an adult or have years of experience, you just need to understand any risks involved and follow your training. As long as the younger generation do this they will be able to enjoy the sport just as much as the adults. I think scuba diving should be more available to people our age because it teaches you a lot that you would not learn in everyday life and opens up many opportunities and adventures. I believe adults should be supportive of younger divers because they are the next generation of divers, improving and maintaining the sport, and will be just like the adults one day. Nothing should stop you living your dreams when possible.
I’ve always heard people tell me “how do you do school work” “this ain’t a kiddies sport” and other annoying comments. I’ve always been wise and told them that if something makes you happy, it shouldn’t affect anyone else. I have seen kids who can dive better than a 30 year old. Diving is about wisdom and knowledge, it’s a sport only someone who truly connects with it can Pursue, and I think that if a child not matter how old feels that connection, they should fulfill it as much as they can.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years time I will be 18 so I should be doing the Open Water Instructor course and hopefully passing so I will be able to teach others to dive. I like to think I will have done a lot more dives and be diving around the world meeting new people, helping them to fulfill their dreams too. This would be an amazing experience and I would enjoy knowing that both they and myself are learning about this wonderful environment all the time. I would also like to promote teenage diving and inspire and help younger people to get into the sport. Hopefully, I will be able to help the marine environment along the way as I feel very strongly about protecting our oceans and waterways. I would like to incorporate teaching about preservation of our underwater world with teaching scuba diving.
In 5 years I hope to be a global ocean ambassador helping to spread awareness on the state of our seas and oceans because they are slowly dying and it breaks me down to see that. Contributing to this I would love to be a marine biologist to help understand our marine species more and help protect them.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring young scuba divers?
No matter what age, if you haven’t scuba dived yet, give it a go. You might think you will not like it but some who say this go on to become some of the world’s best divers. It’s an amazing opportunity to see a whole world most people never experience. The oceans belong to us all and we have the right to respectfully experience them.
Also, thank you Alaa, Sherif, Osama, Kris, my family and all who have helped me achieve what I have so far.
I’m just an ordinary 15 year old girl who goes to school and gets homework too. I am so grateful for all the people to have helped me and shared their knowledge with me! I am so lucky to live in a diving oriented town.
Thank you to Ahmed, Mahmoud, Horus, Mostafa and Ayman for being such great mentors.
“She turned her cant’s into can’s and her dreams into plans”
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