Sinking beneath the waves, cold water closes around each diver.
Sound becomes muted and distorted. There is the gentle hoarse hiss, like Darth Vader breathing, of the regulator and bubbles float upwards rolling through the water as they escape to the surface.
Under the water a secret world is revealed.
“You think you’re in the middle of the ocean, you think you’re down 60 meters, you think you’re right on the bottom of the ocean and it’s just amazing,” scuba diver Kylie Simons said.
“Just to be able to see the fish come past you, the draughtsboard sharks zooming around or one of the big sting rays come up; it’s nerve wracking but exhilarating, exciting. A great experience.”
Mrs Simons first hit the water with tank, mask and fins almost three years ago. She was doing a four dive course to learn to scuba dive.
It was a dream she’d had for a long time.
“I’d always loved the sea and always wanted to learn to dive, I just had to muster up the courage,” she said.
The ever-changing ocean and beach has always called to Mrs Simons. She recalls wandering along the beach as a child with sand between her toes, looking for shells and sea urchins.
But, when she first got a glimpse of underwater life as a scuba diver, she wasn’t certain it was her kind of pursuit.
“I expected it to be easier at first, which a lot of people do ... A lot of people expect to hop in the water and off you go, but there are the basics for safety you have to learn first,” she said.
“That was something that I’ve since learnt ... the expectation that you’re going to be brilliant at first is [unrealistic]; you’re learning, it’s something to build on.”
Speaking to Mrs Simons now you would never guess her initial trepidation. Her passion for the sport is obvious.
“I’ve got close to 300 dives up now, 281 to be exact, until next week. I spend a lot of time under the water,” she said.
Just to be able to see the fish come past you, the draughtsboard sharks zooming around or one of the big sting rays come up; it’s nerve wracking but exhilarating.Kylie Simons
Learning to scuba dive has opened up a whole world to Mrs Simons, and taken her across the globe. She’s been to Bali, Papua New Guinea and the Galapagos Islands diving.
“I’ve been to Galapagos Islands and patted a whale shark, I nearly got knocked out by its tail,” Mrs Simon recalls.
“And I loved the hammer heads, the masses of schools of hammer heads just hundreds of them all around you. I thought I’d be frightened but I just wanted to touch them.”
But Mrs Simons said Tasmania has just as much to offer divers as these exotic destinations.
“Oh my God it’s amazing. East Coast, Governors Reserve has so many beautiful spots, soft coral sponge gardens, sea whips, zoanthids, it’s just like a fantastic garden but under the water and the fish life is amazing.”
“We are really lucky in Tassie, it’s cold but we’re lucky.”
Mrs Simon’s love of diving extends beyond her own enjoyment. She is now training as a dive control specialist, which allows her to train under supervision and take groups out to dive, and she gets a thrill out of helping people explore Tasmania’s underwater offerings.
“It is just an absolutely amazing warm fuzzy to be able to take people out there for the first or second time, that just really are in their element they think it’s amazing,” Mrs Simons said.
Next, she wants to be the first Tasmanian female dive instructor.
“I’m going to be Tasmania’s first SSI (Scuba Schools International) trained female dive instructor,” she said.
“As far as I know I will be the first female Tassie dive instructor but most definitely under SSI.”
She hopes to achieve this dream in the next year.
“If you put the hard work in you can move fairly [quickly] through,” Mrs Simons said.
No one will be getting Mrs Simons to hang up the fins any time soon.
She has gathered her nerves and tackled a dream, persevered and overcome the challenges and couldn’t be any happier for it.
“It’s relaxing, it’s challenging ... there is always something different to see,” Mrs Simons said.
And, apart from braving the cold winter waters (winter is when the water is clearest), Mrs Simons said Tasmania has a incredibly supportive diving community,
Added to which, “It’s the most beautiful place on earth ... it can be really amazing if you just take the advice, believe in yourself and persevere,” she said.