Introduction by Brent McFadden, PADI Course Director
"Back in 2003, as a PADI Course Director and owner of New Zealand Sea Adventures, Kaikoura, south of Christchurch and a PADI Gold Palm Instructor Development Centre, I had reservations about accepting children of this age onto an entry level course. That was until Amy and her dad walked in the door and asked to learn to dive. I accepted Amy and her dad onto the PADI Junior/Open Water Diver course but only after outlining the restrictions on a 10/11-year-old with a Junior Open Water qualification and the challenges that Amy would have to meet during and after training. Where Amy lacked in physical stature (eight-year-old size wetsuit) she made up in mental stamina and sheer determination."
By Amy Dixon
The year is 2003 and finally we had arrived at New Zealand Sea Adventures Dive Centre after a long drive! My dad (who did the open water course) told me that we start 'tomorrow'. I was nervous but excited at the same time. We both had to have a medical first, so we went to the hospital and the doctor checked us over; we were both OK.
The next day we woke up and went to the classroom where we met PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Dale Marriott and James, another student doing the course. For the first time we put together our buoyancy control device (BCD), tank and hoses. The equipment was big and too heavy for me so I had to put it on in the water. Then we were off; at first I didn't trust the regulator but soon got used to it and took my first breath underwater!
The days were long with a test every day and lots of studying every night. I had to learn the whole book in a week, some of it was a bit difficult for me but it was fascinating and I was interested in it, so it was easier to learn. Once I knew how to use The Recreational Dive Tables, I was better than Dad and James. I really enjoyed the dives in the pool.
We went out in the boat out to sea to do our first dive. The water was cold and green; I couldn't see the bottom. I really wanted to dive but I was really frightened too. I had to wear three wetsuits one over the top of the other, there were no boots or gloves to fit as they were all too big so I had to go in the water without. It was only 16 deg C. I got in the water, I really tried but I didn't go down that day.
James and Dad dived and they were joined in the water by a seal. When I got home I was really mad with myself for not diving, I told everybody I was going to dive the next day, I promised I would do it and bring Mum something from the bottom of the sea. I HAD to do it.
The next day was a lovely day. My first open water dive took place at Shark Tooth Bay off Kaikoura, Dad and James went down first; I could see them on the bottom. Although I was still worried, I knew I was going to do it. I went in with Dale and we went down, a seal came and swam with us! It was amazing! I could do it - it was brilliant.
Our fourth and last dive came very quickly. We dived in Whalers Bay, I was bitten by a Blue Cod and I saw an octopus! These were some of the best days ever! I was a PADI Junior Open Water diver. I must have been one of the youngest Junior Open Water divers in the world.
Amy Nixon, age 10 years and four days