“I have literally packed up my house in Atlanta and moved to the Caribbean so I can dive more often”, Interview with an SDI Diver
SDI sat down with avid diver, Andi Cummings to discuss the effects of becoming a certified scuba diver had on her life. Read below to see how diving could change your life too!
Andi – My name is Andi Cummings. I am 43 years old and I am self employed. I am originally from Alabama but I lived in Atlanta for 20 years before moving to the U.S. Virgin Islands which is where I live now.
SDI – How long have you been diving?
Andi – I started diving in October 2011.
SDI – What was the defining moment that made you want to become a scuba diver?
Andi – Well it was kind of funny actually… I was planning a Caribbean getaway and looking for activities to do during my stay. I searched around various travel sites online and found the “number 1 attraction” was scuba diving. I made a social media post asking my friends if I should give it a shot… I received a ton of positive feedback and one of my friends even said it would be “the best investment you ever made.” I have to say it is!
SDI – Tell us about your Open Water Course
Andi – I was really nervous before starting the course. I wasn’t afraid of the water but I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to learn everything before my trip. I feared the course involved too much information but I was able to complete all of the academics online through eLearning at my own pace which helped a lot. The dive shop did a really good job at pairing me up with my instructor who I consider a really great friend to this day. After a few minutes with him in the pool, all of my fears were put to rest and I was ready to dive! By the time we hit the ocean, all I wanted to do was get off the descent line and see as much as I possibly could. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn to dive in the Caribbean on beautiful reefs. We saw turtles, a ton of fish, and on the final day of the course, I was able to dive with dolphins!
SDI – Dolphins? Wow! Tell us about that experience.
Andi – On the final day of the Open Water Scuba Diver course we completed two dives. Towards the end of the first dive, we had four curious dolphins come towards us in the water to check us out and swim around us for easily 30 minutes. After we surfaced from that incredible experience we couldn’t believe it was about to get better… The dolphins actually followed the boat as we made way to the second dive site and greeted us again shortly after we entered the water for our second dive of the day which was my final dive of the Open Water course. I have been around the world and seen a lot of things but this was the closest to nature experience I have ever encountered and the most memorable dive of my life!
SDI – How did your life change after you became a certified scuba diver?
Andi – My life has done a complete 180! (Laughs) I have made a lot of friends through diving; I have a whole new global network of people I associate and travel with thanks to this sport. I have literally packed up my house in Atlanta and moved to the Caribbean so I can dive more often while working remotely. I consider myself extremely lucky to be at this stage in my life as I am a self employed business consultant with clients all around the world. I can work virtually out of the Caribbean as if I am working back in the states… My office just looks a little different now. I have spent the last 20 years in suits, meetings, and in boardrooms and now I work with an ocean view in board shorts.
SDI – How often do you dive?
Andi – I typically dive 2-3 times a week when I am busy with work. When I am in between projects, I dive every day.
SDI – Have you been able to do any dive traveling?
Andi – Oh yes! I have been to Thailand, Fiji, Bali, Florida, and several islands in the Caribbean; all within the past 2 years! I took a whole month off to travel the Pacific and made some fantastic friends along the way. When I meet people in other parts of the world, we stay connected through social media and when I see someone planning a trip somewhere, I try to jump in or I invite people to stay with me and dive. I am currently planning a trip to Bora Bora with people I met during my Pacific run.
SDI – How do you get ready for a dive trip?
Andi – My trip prep revolves around researching the areas I am going to be diving. I ask myself questions like; what is the water temperature? Do I have adequate exposure protection for the environment I am going to be diving? I try to find reviews and talk to people who have been to those locations to see if they have any suggestions. Finally, I have my go to dive bag. Every pocket has designated items. If a pocket is empty, I must be missing something!
SDI – Who is your go-to dive buddy? – My number one man, my son.
SDI – What was it like to see your son become a scuba diver?
Andi – It was such a pleasurable experience. I was so proud of him. It was literally like seeing him take his first steps all over again. I was nervous as a mother but seeing him take to the water like I did made me so proud. He’s at the same place I was two years ago with diving; all he wants to do is take more classes and keep diving. He recently went through an experience that sparked his interest and inspired him… He was able to witness some technical divers prep for their dive. He was so fascinated with their equipment and thought they were total rock stars. Now he is extremely inquisitive about technical diving and what is involved in that area of the sport.
SDI – What do you think about technical diving? –
Andi – I am really lucky to have a few technical / rebreather instructor friends. Seeing them dive that kind of equipment just sparks a whole new interest in me, especially when I see them silently gliding through the water. I think diving a rebreather would just highlight my overall experience in the ocean. I am currently looking at course specific locations around the world to start technical training. For example – I would like to learn how to Cavern Dive in the Cenotes in Mexico and eventually progress on to cave diving. Technical diving has opened up a whole new way for me to look at diving and dive travel.
SDI – Have you taken any additional courses after you got certified 2 years ago?
Andi – Well I got so hooked on diving when I started… I studied the whole course flow path and mapped out a continuing education schedule. Each month I was coming back to the islands to take the next course on the list. I am very thrilled at the idea of using learning as a tool so I can do and see more in the water. Continuing my diving education after my Open Water Scuba Diver course became something I felt like I needed to do; there is just so much I don’t know and so much to learn!
SDI – What advice would you like to share with people who are considering getting certified?
Andi – You can do it! Study, take the course seriously and pay attention to your instructor. Do your research before choosing a dive center or instructor and ask questions! Diving is an investment of time and money but the rewards can be life changing, literally.
For more information on becoming a certified Open Water Scuba Diver or to find an SDI instructor near you, visit us at http://www.tdisdi.com/sdi/get-certified/open-water-scuba-diver-course/
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