Senior Scuba Diver

I am a scuba woman. I completed my open water scuba diving course in my fifties. I had to wonder. Is there an age limit for scuba diving? Am I too old to scuba dive? Since I have begun my diving journey, I have met many older scuba divers, diving well into their sixties and seventies, proving there are no age restrictions. I am not too old to scuba dive. I live and dive predominantly on the Capricorn Coast and dive often. Many women my age are part of my small dive community. We regularly meet at the dive center, put on our scuba gear and start our dive, exploring the Southern Great Barrier Reef. If you are medically dive fit consider a diving course and expanding your life. I intend to be diving for the next few decades! Start scuba diving today and rediscover your youth.

Woman Scuba Diver – Am I too old to scuba dive?

Resigning myself to the humdrum of advancing years I accepted my son, Joshua’s gift of a Discovery Dive graciously, but with suspicion. Seeing me out of my comfort zone seems to amuse Josh. Thanks to him I have been on horrific rollercoasters, climbed sheer volcanos, eaten bizarre food, trekked dense jungles, confronted wild animals, and travelled to strange destinations. A Discovery Dive off Great Keppel Island – if I don’t drown and I’m not eaten by a shark, how bad can it be? I am about to become a woman scuba diving, a senior scuba diver. Am I past the maximum age for scuba diving certification? I keep reminding myself there is no age limit for scuba diving.

Woman Scuba Diving – Great Keppel Island

I cannot believe Great Keppel Island has been on my doorstep. It is a hidden gem, 30 minutes by ferry, long white beaches, sparkling blue water, paradise.

Great Keppel Island, Capricorn Coast
Southern Great Barrier Reef EMPTY NEST DIVER
Great Keppel Island – Paradise on my doorstep

Discovery Dive

A Discovery Dive is designed to safely let you try scuba diving, it is ideal for this senior scuba diver! I will soon see if I am too old to scuba dive. I am shown the skills I need for the aptly named PADI Discovery Dive. Butterflies flutter in my stomach as I slowly sink below the surface, however I am soon lost in the beauty of our underwater world. Forgetting my nerves, I marvel at all that I see. Our dive site – the Underwater Observatory is brimming with fish life. It is so much fun! Entranced I feel a bubble of water sneak under the lip of my mask as I spontaneously grin. I can’t believe I am a woman scuba diving. Surfacing from the dive I thank Josh profusely. He encourages me to get my open water diver certification, on a natural high I sign up to learn to dive for the following week. As a certified scuba diver I will be able to dive in open water with a buddy to a depth of 18 metres. It is both exciting and daunting. I do not realise my life is about to change as I embrace the thought of becoming a female scuba diver.

A senior scuba diver carrying a dive backpack with ocean and islands in the background. EMPTY NEST DIVER

Open water certification – senior woman scuba diver

Initially I am overwhelmed with the skills I need to learn to stay alive underwater. I am being challenged in more ways than I can imagine. Amplifying my anxiety is my body’s inability to manage small things.  Awkward by nature, age is not helping. Arthritis in my hands makes it difficult to connect my hoses, I can’t undo the bungee cord holding the tank, or pull on my dive boots. Trudging through the soft sand, lugging my heavy dive gear to the dive boat – I really wonder about my life choices. Thanks to my instructor and PADI training I do get qualified and I become a woman scuba diving – a senior scuba diver.

I need weights to sink, but can hardly move with them out of the water, the tank almost flattens me, more than once my legs buckle. Even putting on a wetsuit is an issue.  I don’t have the strength in my arms to pull one up, nor can I get it off without help. I am feeling at a distinct disadvantage to my fitter younger peers. Am I too old to scuba dive?

Age aside, there’s my lack of co-ordination. Which way do I put my BCD on my tank?  The answer for me is the wrong way – every time. In fact, that’s the answer for most of the skills I need.

SENIOR SCUBA WOMAN in front of dive boat EMPTY NEST DIVER
Senior Scuba Diver

Woman Scuba Diving – the small steps are hard

Being an open water diver is the easy part, I get a real kick out of seeing the diverse beauty underwater. At times I can lose myself in the serenity of the ocean. I am genuinely proud of the fact that my air consumption is really good, I am coming back to the boat with more air than my dive buddies.

Everyone is always waiting on me as I struggle with the small steps.  Getting my dive gear on, I can’t lift the tank and BCD by myself, I am ungainly as I try to get my fins on, and shuffle into position for a backward roll, my legs cramp as I bob in the water by the boat, I need help to pass up my weights and gear before climbing the boat ladder, bruising my shins as I bang against the moving rungs.  

LADIES NONE OF IT MATTERS

FIND A GOOD DIVE COMPANY – FIND SUPPORT

Find a good dive company and you find support.  I found an excellent dive company with PADI Keppel Dives. They were there with me every fin of the way, encouraging, helpful, and reassuring.  All my “issues” were a non-issue to them. There was always someone there to pull off my wetsuit, relieve me of my tank and help me with the heavy lifting. I like to pull my own weight, do my part, but I am a senior scuba diver, I appreciate the support and accept it, very thankfully some days. I am not too old to be a woman scuba diving.

A SCUBA WOMAN diver EMPTY NEST DIVER
I make it look easy!! Dive gear is heavy and awkward

Rather than feeling weak and defeated I feel inspired.  I make a very clear decision to overcome the challenges diving presents – both physically and mentally.

I am having an awakening.  I am not sliding into middle age; I am taking back the years. I want to be able to release that bloody bungee cord and climb the boat ladder with my gear on.  I have always seen myself as awkward and unathletic, a bit slow to catch on. Now instead of feeling embarrassed, I am embracing who I am. There is no age limit for scuba diving. I am releasing the limitations I have put on myself.  I am determined I am not going to be old – in mind or body. I am not too old to scuba dive! I can do this!

My diving community

I am privileged, humbled, and inspired to be able to interact with the unique underwater ecosystems I scuba in. As a woman diver I want to be strong and healthy.  Not from the vanity perspective of my youth but for me. I want to be at my best. I want to be a contributing member of the dive community. Diving brings all ages together as well as people from all different walks of life. It is amazing who dives. People I least expected, I discover people I have known for ages are divers.

Corals and fish underwater EMPTY NEST DIVER
Beautiful and diverse underwater world

Small steps – Giant Stride

My mantra becomes “55 is the new 35 when you dive”.  I believe it in every cell of my being.  When I was 35, I was too busy for me. Everyone and everything else came first. This time around 35 is good. Somedays my body and I argue but I am winning.  It is mental health – it is physical health.  I start with small steps – I stretch, I start juicing, I add more fruit and vegetables to my diet, I research natural remedies and build an exercise routine that I enjoy. I am determinded to prove there is no age limit for scuba diving. I am going to be a woman scuba diving well into my advancing years.

My many small steps are turning into a Giant Stride. My life is expanding because of diving. I am thankful for the changes I am making.  Scuba diving is helping me find me. As I confront limiting beliefs and fears I become stronger, more self-assured. I begin to recognize my authentic power.  A quiet confidence and sense of achievement, faith in me.

As I see my body transform, my mind transform I am extremely grateful for the Discovery Dive that has started my incredible journey.  A journey I am enjoying every fin of the way. I have a list of dive sites I wish to visit, so really, I have no choice but to be diving into my seventies – maybe even eighties – it’s a very long list. That’s what I call a true senior scuba diver!

It’s never too late -TAKE THE DIVE WITH TANYA

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Published by emptynestdiver

Learning to dive in my fifties has been a great adventure, I am a senior scuba diver but young at heart.

2 thoughts on “Senior Scuba Diver

  1. What an incredible inspiring story, thanks for sharing the beautiful images and the story with us 😇!

    This reminds me of a Scuba diving vacation me and my wife took not a long ago, in a tiny island nation called ‘Sri Lanka’ which simply is a paradise for divers. 🐠🐟🐳

    We explored a ship wreck called ‘Lord Nelson’ few miles off of a small southern coastal town of the country. Trust me it is an experience that i cherish and holds dear to me and will keep doing so!

    See the full story here👇,
    https://sachsattic.wordpress.com/2022/08/04/discovering-a-paradise-at-sea-scuba-diving-at-lord-nelson-ship-wreck-in-unawatuna-sri-lanka/

    Liked by 1 person

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