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How to take your diving to the next level

SuuntoDive — 6 aprile 2016

So, you’ve been diving for a while now and have noticed that you’re itching for something new or more challenging – that’s a sign it’s time to take your diving to the next level. We talk to 25-year-old technical diver Gemma Smith – the first woman to dive the ancient Antikythera shipwreck – about how to step up your diving.

© Nina Baxa

Before Gemma Smith started diving when she was 17 she’d been into a number of extreme sports. “Then I discovered scuba diving, and that was that!” she says. We caught up with her a day before she set off on an intense three months of diving, including cave diving in Florida, mine diving in Newfoundland and shark diving in the Bahamas. Here are her 7 pointers for how to take your diving to the next level.

It’s not just about depth or difficulty

Even though I'm known as a technical and re-breather diver some of my best dives have been on a single tank and in 10 m of water! Diving with silversides in Grand Cayman was truly out of this world, yet I never went below a few meters. Having said that, cave diving is where my heart is. When you're on a re-breather 2 km into a cave, gliding along on a DPV (diver propulsion vehicle), I'm not sure anything can top that.

“Some of my best dives have been on a single tank and in 10 m of water!”

Build your motivation

One of the things I like most about diving is there’s always something new you can challenge yourself with. As long as you have the motivation and dedication to pursue different avenues and try new things, you'll never get bored and never feel like you're not improving.

© Nina Baxa

Patience and hard work are mandatory

The first thing to remember is to be patient. Taking your diving to the next level won't come quickly, it won't be easy, but it will totally be worth it. You've got to be prepared to give up a lot, and to work hard.

© J. Dan Wright

It’s all about the people

You will also need to make the effort to meet people. The diving world is really small, and – especially with the expedition scene – it helps if you know the guys involved. You need to try to stand out, and that requires effort. Spend the money and train with the best people out there. I've trained with some truly amazing instructors; Martin Robson, Rich Walker, Paul Toomer, Ian France. The things I learned from them have allowed me to take my diving to the next level.

“Spend the money and go to train with the best people out there.”

Change in outlook

Changing how you see your diving is really important if you want to take it further. I love my diving, and I'm so glad I've chosen it as my career, but nonetheless it's my job, and I treat it as such. I don't see it as my hobby.

© J. Dan Wright

Make an investment

You also need to realise that if you want to advance your diving it will require a big investment, both financially and in terms of time. I always compare it to university. I chose not to go, but I've invested the same time and money in diving. You need that mind-set I think if you want to succeed.

“I always compare it to university. I've invested the same time and money in diving.”


Practice, practice, practice

Practice. On every single dive you need to practice skills, preferably two. So many people do courses, and then never practice any of the skills they learned. Have fun, enjoy it, but take it seriously. It's the only way to improve.

© J. Dan Wright