Making a splash as world’s first junior divemaster
A young diver who gained some of her scuba skills in Bermuda has claimed the title of the world’s first Junior Divemaster.
Holly Wakely, a British national who has lived in Bermuda since she was three, was certified for the PADI [Professional Association of Diving Instructors] pilot programme in August. This month she will upgrade her certification to full Divemaster meaning she will be qualified to supervise scuba diving activities and assist with scuba classes.
Two other young female Bermudian divers qualified in Bermuda as Divemasters this September and the trio is setting an example for other women to elevate within what remains a male dominated industry.
Alexandra Quinn-Sirera, 18, and Logan Soares, 18, both qualified with Dive Bermuda, while Ms Wakely, who was 17 at the time and has since turned 18, attained the first ever Junior Divemaster qualification at the Kids Sea Camp in St Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean. All dove with the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.
Ms Wakely told The Royal Gazette: “I feel honoured that I was able to work alongside Kids Sea Camp and PADI to help this course become even the slightest possibility for the future. This is a pilot tester programme for PADI and is not yet available for anyone to participate in. I hope that this it is released as I believe it’s a great way to teach younger teens who are not yet old enough to be Divemasters the basics of the course.”
Born in Swaziland in southern Africa, Ms Wakely started in dive gear at just four years of age and had completed close to 200 dives culminating in a Master Scuba Diver qualification by the time she was 13.
The idea of a Junior Divemaster course had been floated by PADI for several years but it was not until last year that a pilot materialised. Narrowly avoiding Covid-19 related travel restrictions, Ms Wakely made it on the plane to St Lucia going on to qualify as the first to complete the course. She also learnt many of the skills she needed to become a Divemaster with Dive Bermuda.
Ms Wakely said that her instructor in St Lucia, Margo Peyton, was a huge inspiration to her as a female in the scuba diving industry. She said: “Not only are the majority of Divemasters male but the majority of the scuba industry is too. This is slowly beginning to change with events such as Woman’s Dive Day, which are encouraging woman to scuba dive and get to experience the underwater world.”
Ms Wakely said that one of her favourite memories under the water was in the Galapagos Islands in 2018.
“This is an amazing sanctuary which is top of most divers bucket list. I encountered my favourite animal, the whale shark, in its natural habitat in the wild.
“In complete awe I turned to my dive buddy Sophie who was paying no attention to the gentle giant next to us because she was way too busy looking past a school of hundreds of hammerhead sharks to a pod of dolphins playing in the wild. This is a moment I will never forget.”
The Divemaster is the first professional level in diving and participants must be 18 to take the full course. All three women have their sights set on becoming dive instructors and being able to travel the world doing what they love.
Ms Soares said: “One of my life goals is to dive in every ocean around the world, even though some of them are colder than others. I love it very much. I have had amazing opportunities like diving with a manta ray in Hawaii and diving in Eleuthera, Bahamas, where I was given opportunities to work on reef conservation.”
Ms Quinn-Sirera said she would like to see more females in the industry.
“My main goal would be to encourage other younger girls to take on the Divemaster course. It really is the perfect time to do it since at 18 you still have so much free time to do things.
“The best memory I have under the water would be scuba diving in the Galapagos since it was my first time diving outside of Bermuda and got to see so many different animals like hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, Galapagos sharks and a mola mola. It was a very different diving environment from what I was used to.”
Ms Wakely said that anyone wanting to become a Divemaster must be able to communicate with different types of people. She added: “The course calls for helping with and teaching different levels of scuba diving, whether that is brand new divers who are entering the water for the first time or returning divers looking to further their education.”
For more information about Padi visit https://www.padi.com/courses/divemaster