Rupert arrived at the shop with a bright smile, firm handshake, and his own pair of fins. Dive bag slung over his shoulder, Rupert hobbled up the cement stairs; two legs, two different sizes.
Lead Instructor JT explained that we would complete an open water certification with a disabled diver; the divemaster team knew that all was in good hands. Carys Mahoney, divemaster in training, assures, “He’s being lead by an instructor who was trained to teach people who are disabled”—our very own JT.
Originally from Holland, Rupert was on vacation in Costa Rica with his friends. His friends went on a hike, which he couldn’t partake in; with two different sized legs, Rupert limps. But he didn’t want to do nothing—he had another idea in mind.
Rupert wanted to scuba dive.
He began his open water certification courses at Playas Del Coco, where he completed basic skills in the pool. The dive center became seriously busy; because of schedule conflicts, Rupert came to us at Ocean’s Unlimited in Quepos.
“We have all the time that you need,” JT emphasizes to Rupert. To the divemaster trainees, he reiterates, “We will take all the time he needs”.
On the first day, Rupert completed a pool session lead by JT and assisted by Bettina Gerns (DMT) and Emmy Ciabattoni (DMT, me). We reviewed anything he felt uncomfortable with; which Rupert believed was breathing underwater, but he seemed to breath with ease. By the end of the pool session, Rupert claimed, “I’m ready for tomorrow. I’m more comfortable now”.
During the first open water dives, Rupert struggled underwater. Mahoney reports, “At the start, he was relying on us a lot”. Rupert seemed to have trouble kicking—“Kicking was hard. He had one leg shorter than the other, so he wasn’t using them”.
“By the end, he was doing good,” Mahoney continues, “He was relying on us a lot, until he felt comfortable and realized he could do it”. In addition to improved kicks, Rupert’s strength was his buoyancy. According to Rupert, there’s a town close to his that has “good water” for diving; “I like it, I will do open water [dives] in Holland”.
JT responds, “Most of the good divers are Dutch—our bad day is their best visibility”. You could say we have high expectations for Rupert. But in addition to the technical accomplishments Rupert achieved during his stay here, we benefitted in other ways as well.
Mahoney states, “He offered a lot of insight to different ways of diving”.
I think that Rupert’s time here, at Ocean’s Unlimited, was a beneficial learning experience for himself and all of the students and trainers involved.