Emma – Good Open Water diver in a small package

A post by Marc, one of our diving instructors.

When Dawie had told all the instructors to write this blog, I had a really difficult time to pick a favourite student. It’s not that there weren’t any, all of the students I have taught thus far all hold a special place in my heart for being unique in their own way.

One student that really stood out was my most recent student Emma Lauren Wiggins. She is an 11 year old and decided to start her open water course.

EmmaSo I arrive at De Jong Pool not really knowing what to expect. At first her mother did all the talking, Emma didn’t say much. In fact she didn’t talk much the whole time we were at the pool. Before we got started I had to adjust the BCD to fit her tiny fame.

Get comfortable with your Scuba gear in the pool

We then proceeded with kitting up and the whole rigmarole. I then proceeded to brief her on the skills that are going to take place and how the whole day was going to happen. Emma didn’t seem phased by  the day’s proceedings. Once we both where ready I had to carry both sets of gear to the edge of  the pool, because the gear was too heavy for her. We then jumped in. Getting the gear on her wasn’t such an issue but I could see she was a bit unstable. But all new students are.

As we descended on the grid to start the first couple of shallow water skills, Emma tried to stay on her knees but she would just fall in all directions. I then told her to sit which seemed to work, but then her legs would float up and she would roll over backwards. I showed her that she needs to hook her feet in the grid but this then bad her unstable once again. After about 5 or so minutes trying to get Emma stable in the water I had to hold both legs to keep them from floating up and to keep her stable in the water while demonstrating the skills to her. I would have to say that this method was challenging, not only to keep her stable but to keep to PADI standards as well.

Emma got through the shallow skills effortlessly and without a hitch. Descending to the bottom of the pool wasn’t much of an issue either. At the bottom Emma tried to go on her knees but yet again couldn’t keep up right. So we fell back in our method of sitting and me holding her legs.

Even the smallest people can qualify as PADI Open Water Divers

As the day went on Emma got more comfortable in the water and her balance improved. She could then keep her balance while on her knees without assistance. As we are nearing the end of the skills there was only one last skill that needed to be done. Scuba kit remove and replace under water. I could see she was getting better under the water but still thought that she would have a problem completing this skill. But lo and behold Emma completed the skill in one go, without any difficulty.

After all the skills were out of the way we just swam around the pool for about 10 minutes. Just so that she could get used to swimming without me stabilising her. About 2 minutes in getting used to swimming and the buoyancy control. Emma was darting all around the pool without trouble.

Emma would be my favourite student because she put me on my toes and challenging me to make quick decisions to rectify the situations that we faced together, and that she went from where she started in the beginning of the day and finishing strong at the end.

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