I learnt how to scuba dive about 12 years ago, but the intention was there a long time before that.
My earliest memory of wanting to dive was sitting on the cliffs of Anglesey (North Wales) with my Dad. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old at the time and we often stayed nearby in a caravan we had. We were watching divers bringing up treasure that been found on a wreck nearby. I'm pretty sure it was the Royal Charter, but I really need to do more research.
I remembered saying to my Dad on the way back to the caravan that one day I would dive there. I still haven't done this, but the idea of diving stuck in my head.
I used to swim a huge amount. I swam for my local swimming club and have a medal or two (I did set a record in my early teens for the club but imagine it's long since been beaten). I did high board diving for a while too.
Holidays used to consist of me basically spending every hour I could find in the water, whether this was snorkelling, free-diving or swimming in any way I could get it. As such, I feel at home there and always have.
With the idea of diving forever fixed in my head and my love of the water, it would only be a matter of time.
It took a lot longer than I ever intended to learn to dive though, but I'm so glad I made the effort. After the death of my father in 1997 I decided to make the effort and learn. I started in the Caribbean with a PADI try dive course and loved it. Money was tight so I didn't do the open water course, but I had fallen for diving. I missed out on another holiday in Greece. Unfortunately the dive centre felt that leaving the centre deserted during the day was a great way of getting business, so I missed out again. I did a DSD again in Mexico on my honeymoon in 1999, but again, didn't do the course for money reasons however I did do a handful of dives in open water (the Pacific is pretty open I guess) which kept things ticking along nicely.
When I finally did my open water in the Dominican Republic (with a brilliant instructor called Ann Miller) I fell completely for this sport. I completed my open water in 5 days and got a near perfect score. Money was working better for me (as a software developer and DBA / data specialist of various guises over the years).
Not long after, I progressed to Egypt for my Advanced Open water and a LOT of diving (including the Thistlegorm). I've been back twice since as it's the best diving I've done so far and I always dive more than I intended (I have a really supportive wife (Lisa)). I went diving again in Jamaica several years ago and met up with Gaz who was working as an instructor there at the time (see the about us page for the eDive story). I completed a number of diving courses with Gaz (PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy, Nitrox, Deep Specialty, Wreck Specialty and Photography) and dived as often a possible. As always, I was in the water every chance I got.
Gaz and (wife to be at the time) Lynsey moved to Cyprus for a while (Gaz and I were working on eDive at this stage) and we went to visit for their wedding (and some more courses courtesy of Gaz as always). We decided Gaz's last dive as a free man was to be a BIG dive on the Zenobia. In typical Gaz fashion, he chose something suitably challenging, and as always, I agreed and went along. The plan was an major penetration of the wreck that he'd had in mind for some time.
It was in total darkness. We dropped in and headed into the wreck. 10m in and visibility was none existent.
We turned left and right in the distance was a small spec of a door way (on it's side as the wreck was). The idea was to head for the doorway. Gaz set off with me next and Rick (another very experienced diver) following. 20m in and there was no visibility whatsoever. Gary's plan (to make it fun) was to dive without torches (yeah, cheers for that one Gaz :-))
I hit the ceiling, floor, walls and anything that was there (although I don't actually know what was there). I lined the door way up and managed to position Gaz in the door way figuring that was the best reference. Hearts beating, we swam. It seemed an age. We finally got to the other end and scared some other divers peeping into the blackness wondering what was in there (us 3 nutters he he he). We had plenty of air in reserve (and had a very conservative plan) and had a fantastic time. Now I look back on this, it probably wasn't the brightest of ideas, but in all fairness this was well within our capabilities and it had been planned in a lot of detail before we went for it.
I followed this a couple of weeks later with a fantastic holiday in Sharm El Sheikh diving as often as possible. Not long after, my wife discovered she was pregnant with out first child (Amy). I dived on holiday again when Amy was 10 months old (in Skiathos with my friend Panos) and then decided to take up diving in the UK (to get my hit as often as possible). Our second daughter (Zoe) made an appearence this year, so diving abroad is sort of on hold at the moment. I now dive every couple of weeks at Capernwray (near the lake district) with Gaz, Nick, Seb or Jim. see www.dive-site.co.uk for details. We dive every month so go throughout the winter too. When we had a break in the coldest winter we've had in the UK for 30 years, we went diving. The car park was a little empty but it was amusing to see we were not on our own.
Plans are under way to get us to Silfra in Iceland at some point, so Gaz and I are now putting together the kit that will work well for us there and the UK. I'm now doing twin set diving and helping Gaz out as he gets back into rebreathers again.