A schoolgirl in Dubai has become one of the world’s youngest certified scuba divers after she plunged 10 metres underwater.
Ellie May Craig passed the exam on her 10th birthday, December 31, 2020.
Children aged under 10 are not allowed to take the test.
She took it through Professional Association of Diving Instructors, the world’s largest scuba-diving training organisation.
The next day, she completed her open-water diving certificate at Jumeirah Beach, making her one of the few children to achieve the feat worldwide. Similar records are held by only a few other boys and girls.
Her performance was recorded by examiners.
“I was a bit nervous, but mainly excited. When I got to Al Boom Diving Centre on Al Wasl Road, I went straight into the pool and did some skills,” the Briton said.
“Then we went on a minibus to this private bit of Jumeirah Beach and we did the sea work. I was really pleased to hear from my instructor that I passed.
“I felt really excited, but I was really tired. When I came home I had the coolest diver cake with pink flippers and a big number 10.”
The Year 5 pupil of Gems FirstPoint School said she was proud of her achievement, but found the second set of exams, for the open-water dive, tougher than expected.
“I woke up again nice and early to go back to Al Boom Diving Centre,” she said.
“Then we did some more pool work, like taking my mask off and swimming around, lots of skills.
“After that I did some sea work, such as towing people in.
“It was very hard, because it was cold.”
Towing people in a pool is a water rescue exercise and demonstrates the swimmer’s fitness and strength.
Ellie is certified to go as deep as 12m but could only do 10m because of the cold.
Her mother, Tracey Craig, said she wore three wetsuits on the day to keep warm.
“I think she found it a little bit more challenging than she thought.
“But she was so determined. When she came out of the water, she said there was no way she was going to give up and she was going to get that certificate on the day.”
The family thanked the team at Al Boom Diving Centre, in Jumeirah 1, for allowing Ellie to make the attempt.
“We would not have done this anywhere else,” said her grandfather, Ray Hewitt, 57, who is an experienced diver and often dives with Ellie May.
He said Ellie, who has lived in the UAE since she was one, was inspired to make the attempt after growing up seeing the country’s many record-breaking achievements.
The pair plan to visit Fujairah this weekend to dive at Snoopy Island, a well-known diving spot.