To become a certified scuba diver, one must have both the knowledge of the fundamental principles of scuba diving and the expertise to master basic scuba skills through confined water dives and open water dives.
For many, these strenuous requirements that merit certification cause too much of a splash, leading many aspiring divers to try and try again for certification.
However, that was not the case for Julien Elementary School fifth grader Kate Ogden.
In her first attempt at becoming a certified scuba diver through Professional Association of Diving Instructors, Ogden triumphed over others much older than herself when she became certified at only 11 years old.
“I honestly did not know if I was going to get certified or not because I know a lot of people said they had to take the course again,” said Ogden. “But it was an amazing feeling when I came out of the lake and I was told that I was certified and that I can dive anywhere.
“This is something I will have for the rest of my life and it was just a great experience,” continued Ogden.
To become certified, Ogden took a number of courses to develop her understanding of basic scuba diving principles, including what to do in case of an emergency, how to set up gear, and what to do if a boat drives on top of her while she is diving.
According to Ogden, her biggest challenge turned out not to be in the classroom, but in the lake, where visibility was limited.
“The visibility was very murky and not as clear and mud was coming up so it was very hard,” said Ogden. “It’s definitely a lot harder than in the pool.”
While diving in the lake, Ogden had to clearly demonstrate her ability to inflate her buoyancy control device, breathe through bubbles, and conduct a buddy safety check—all of which were tasks that proved to be effortless for the young diver.
With her newly achieved certification, Ogden can now effectively dive anywhere in the world, acquire gear, and get air refills.
“What I really want to accomplish next in scuba diving is once I turn 16, I really want to become a master scuba diver,” said Ogden. “I just really want to progress to higher steps of scuba diving as I get older.”
Looking back, Ogden reported that what originally sparked her interest in scuba diving was her love of animals and her desire to clean up the ocean.
“I really wanted to go scuba diving because I love animals and I wanted to see them,” said Ogden. “I also wanted to clean up the ocean when I scuba dive and I just thought it was very interesting.”
Although Ogden will undoubtedly encounter many animals when she puts her newly earned certification to use, she will initiate her mission to clean up the ocean one dive at a time—with her first attempt scheduled as early as this month in Monterey.
Along with fellow members of Dream Divers, a diving club based in Modesto, Ogden is looking forward to participating in “Dive In Earth Day 2015,” which is an event that annually draws in hundreds of volunteers and divers to clean up and conserve coral reefs, oceans and aquatic ecosystems.