This is the story of Cecily Russell, who returned to scuba diving after taking a 3-year surface interval for medical reasons.
My head dunked under the azure Red Sea and those 3 years out of the water reduced to nothing. I was home again. In my peaceful nirvana.
After taking almost 3 years off diving due to medical reasons, I was able to get my toes wet again in March this year! Having to take time out of the water is a weird one, particularly when you live in Dahab, Egypt, where almost everyone is in the water every day (diving, freediving, kitesurfing, you name it). It felt particularly unnatural after diving since childhood and then spending a year in a dive centre every day and becoming a PADI Divemaster. I was suddenly reduced to being unable to go for a shallow dive. It was devastating, to say the least.
It’s difficult to describe to non-divers the impact that diving, and being underwater in a whole new world, has on your soul. It’s something that becomes innate, and diving becomes almost a natural instinct. But my biggest fear was: would I have lost it? Would I have lost that soundless, peaceful feeling that used to await me under the surface? Would I have lost my ability to relax into the blue? It was time to find out.
After completing the PADI ReActivate Scuba Refresher Program knowledge section, it was time to head in. I discussed the skills that I would be refamiliarizing myself with underwater with the instructor who joined me on the dive before kitting up.
The first step went well, kitting up was like riding a bike, almost impossible to forget after hundreds of times of practice. One aspect that slipped my mind was quite how heavy all of my kit was, not to mention using 8 kilos (17 pounds) with my ridiculously thick 7-millimetre suit! After a buddy check, we headed to the Lighthouse dive site in Dahab and prepared to descend.
OK? OK! Let’s go.
Underneath the surface, I was welcomed with silence. Just me and my breath. Peace, at last. And a few tears fell (of happiness!). A simple, 50-minute, shallow dive around Bannerfish Bay was all I needed to forget about those years out of the water. After getting back in the water again, my fears were released. I can truly say – once a diver, always a diver.