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Age is just a number: Becoming a Scuba Diver after 60.

There are people who are introduced to scuba diving at the dawn of their lives. They are tempted by oceans with water as warm as a bath and visibility as clear as glass to take a sabbatical after high school, from college, or from their careers to travel and to scuba dive.

They use the break to dive often, build experience through certifications, enroll in a Dive Master Internship program, or become Scuba Dive Instructors. They have salt in their hair, hint of a sunburn on the tips of their noses, and nothing but time and opportunity ahead of them.

At 65 years old, Terrance Devery is not one of those people.

Get Scuba Certified at later age

Terrance (Left) with Dive Instructor Ben just before diving Bats Islands (Murcielago).

Terrance grew up in Seattle, Washington (USA) where he recalls seeing only one scuba dive shop in the area. No one he knew went scuba diving, so he just didn’t think about it. The self-described “adrenaline junkie” spent his time hiking mountaintops in places like Africa or going on 30-mile bike rides. After retiring from a long career in construction, specializing in safety & training, he relocated to Costa Rica.

He was privileged to spend a year with his son in his new home country where, together, they snorkeled everywhere they could find; bonding in a way that’s a different kind of special when your child has become an adult. After his son returned to The States, Terrance’s curiosity about what it was like to be “inside of the fishbowl” grew.

That curiosity led him to Rich Coast Diving where he initially planned to purchase better snorkel gear. Observing the excitement of the staff and how well the shop was ran (and after years of working in safety & training, he knows a well-run shop when he sees one!), Terrance decided to ask the shop’s owner, Celine Monfort, questions. Lots and lots of questions. Questions she took the time to patiently answer. Terrance knows he is healthy. He stays active even in retirement, but he couldn’t help but wonder “Could this old man dive?”.

The answer is an absolute and resounding "YES" !

People of any age should consult a doctor before engaging in scuba diving to ensure there are no underlying heart or general health issues that could be impacted by the activity. However, the risks in scuba diving for a healthy individual do not increase solely because of age.

Scuba diving has been proven to strengthen muscles, bone density, and cardiac health. Hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and calves are leg muscles employed when kicking with fins. Core muscles are activated by swimming, kicking, and for stabilization in the boat when the seas are feeling feisty. Even consider how the muscles in the arms and shoulders are engaged when lifting BCDs attached to air tanks. Resistance experienced when pushing arms and legs through water challenges muscles as well as the cardiovascular system. (Like water aerobics, only with a better view.)

The health community advises exercising our hearts at least three times a week for at least thirty minutes each day. Terrance’s desire to stay under water longer motivates him to work on my cardio outside of the water. Overall, scuba diving is a low impact exercise that yields high results. So scuba diving is a great option for seniors. (Maybe we should all get a prescription from our doctors to scuba dive more!)

Terrace had all of his questions answered and began his journey to become a scuba diver. It was important for him to maintain his training exclusively at Rich Coast Diving because he built a rapport with the world-class instructors who know his skills and he, in turn, knows theirs. He’s familiar with the instructor who swims a little faster, but is a whiz at locating bigger marine life like reef sharks, schools of jacks and spotted eagle rays. Or another instructor who guides more slowly in order to discover smaller nudibranchs and octopi in hiding.

Terrance has earned his PADI Advanced Open Water certification and can’t believe how much fun scuba diving is! Scuba diving once a week allowed him to complete a deep dive, meet his first white tip reef shark, see new and healthy coral on every dive, and become experienced at spotting scorpion fish - a fish with sharp spines coated with venomous mucus who are so adept at disguising themselves as ocean rocks that people call them “rock fish”. Next, he’ll complete the PADI Rescue Diver certification as well as travel to Cocos Island to witness schools of hammerhead sharks.

Terrance’s philosophy of scuba diving for divers at any age is that “scuba is safe if you make it safe”. Instructors at Rich Coast Diving “balance encouragement with ass-chewing”, something that rarely happens but is crucial when it comes to safety. Like the time when Terrance wanted to scuba dive at a site with conditions that exceeded his skills as a new diver.

Celine (the owner) mentored him by creating a training plan to help him build the skills needed for that type of dive. Training that was surprisingly fun as Terrance essentially played an underwater game of “Red Light / Green Light” to learn how to manage the underwater surge. Terrance takes his role as a dive buddy seriously which, unexpectedly, opened him to another benefit of scuba diving: community.

Eagle Rays Costa Rica

Scuba diving was never on his bucket list and a small part of him was nervous about being the oldest person on the dive, potentially, making him stand out as a novelty. But we all look silly in wetsuits, we all need to look out for our dive buddy, and we all squeal when we see turtles. We’re more alike than we are different and time spent with complete strangers before the dive, during the surface interval, and after the dive when you run into other wet-haired folks in restaurants; you discover that age ain’t nothing but a number.

Your reasons for diving, what excites you about marine life, and photos from past dives are far more interesting than the number of candles on your birthday cake. For Terrance, whose background is firmly rooted in safety, he found “People are your safety, so they open up more.” Terrance is the dive buddy who will take videos for new divers on his GoPro and email them to after the dive. Some people return and request to dive with him again. He’s made friends with the staff and often receives invitations to their events and activities.

Divesites at Playas del Coco

Terrance uses the 3 minutes of every safety stop to reflect on just how special scuba diving can truly be. At the moment when he’s quietly floating below the ocean’s surface and above the sea floor, he is a grateful that he’s found this kind of peace. He’s happy to give up a few of steak dinners (and a couple bottles of wine!), to have swapped out his car for a bike in order to fund his new passion. Even on the days he would like to dive with some of the older, active people he sees around Playa del Coco, he’s content that he’s found a home at Rich Coast Diving.

For more information about becoming a scuba diver, contact:

Rich Coast Diving

Mrs. Céline Monfort

WhatsApp +506 8610 0914

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