Kelly Taylor, an associate in employment law at York-based Langleys Solicitors LLP, talks about her passion for scuba diving.
Scuba diving is perhaps an odd passion for someone who hates getting even shower water in their eyes.
When I first tried it on holiday in Majorca in 2003, my considered response was “I am never doing that again!” Hyperventilating, panicked and yes, with salt water in my eyes, it was nothing short of traumatic.
And yet since then, I have done over 200 dives all over the world – in Egypt, the Bahamas, Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, Kenya, Cyprus and Majorca. But my favourite diving is without doubt the UK. Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of my British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) with the challenge to dive 50 different wrecks across the UK (and a real challenge it proved to be too for an inland dive club in a country with notoriously bad weather).
I have fed sharks and dived with the biggest fish in the ocean (whale sharks). I regularly swim with seals in Northumberland. So what changed? The tide turned, so to speak, when my husband pursued diving after my traumatic experience.
I just hated the idea of missing out on something amazing! So I took a PADI training course. I’ve always, despite that initial trepidation, had a love of the sea, possibly flowing from childhood dreams of becoming Disney’s The Little Mermaid. But there’s also an incredible sense of achievement from overcoming a fear and becoming good at something you once dreaded – as well as being PADI trained I am now a member of BSAC and an instructor.
Having initially stated I would only ever dive in warm water, I learnt to dive in the beautiful Indian Ocean whilst on holiday in the Maldives, I then travelled the world to see many of the underwater wonders on offer. To build my confidence for some more challenging diving, I reluctantly agreed to start diving in the UK. Four years on I can honestly say that I have done some of my best dives in UK waters.
I can say with great conviction there is no sound more mesmerising than a pod of wild dolphins coming to swim with you, nothing more awe-inspiring than seeing a 13-metre whale shark gracefully swimming towards you, nothing more peaceful than sitting on the ocean floor and watching a prehistoric-looking Dugong graze on sea grass, nothing more breathtaking than a school of over 100 hammerhead sharks circling around you with shy interest, and nothing that can make me smile like a playful seal pup nibbling on my fins.
Through diving I have experienced the mysteries of the ocean from shipwrecks that tell a thousand stories to some of the most interesting creatures on earth. This is something which I never take for granted and something I am always humbled to have experienced.