Gregor’s story started as early as June 2016, when he contacted me over Facebook with a question whether he could do some diving. In the beginning, I didn’t know that he is actually disabled, so I thought that we would do an ordinary Discover Scuba Diving. After a telephone conversation, we made a deal to do the Try dive DDI program.
In March, Gregor finally contacted me to tell me the great news. He got medical approval from the appropriate doctor. Yes, it took some time. Of course, the doctor only gave him approval for a swimming pool dive, but we were both happy nonetheless.
My first DDI experience as an instructor was 3 years ago, and since then it was quite hard to find a disabled person interested in diving. Of course, only 2 million people live in Slovenia altogether, which why I was so happy to meet Gregor. Over the telephone, he explained to me about his problems with cerebral palsy, which were, to tell the truth, unknown to me, since Gregor was the first person I met with this kind of disability. This was a good chance for me as an instructor to crack open the DDI Instructor Manual again and read basic information about cerebral palsy to prepare myself.
D-day finally arrived this Monday. Gregor’s brother Iztok came with him and we met at the swimming pool. After a briefing, Iztok helped me get Gregor into the pool, and then it was action time!
It was a lot of fun for all of us. Gregor enjoyed his time under the water and followed my instructions.
Of course, there were many barriers that we had to overcome. One of them was that there was no wheelchair access to the pool, but it wasn’t too bad. In general, we had three problems underwater: poor stability control, we had to practice a lot to keep his mouth closed, and swimming. It was a job well done, and all three of us invested a lot of energy to help Gregor make his first Try Dive experience memorable.
PADI IDC staff instructor
Addendum by Gregor Fajdiga:
First of all, let me say right away that Try Dive experience with Matjaz was very enjoyable and lots of fun. After a long search for the right doctor, I finally got my medical approval and an okay for a dive. By that time, I was just about to burst with excitement.
I heard from my friends that it is quite hard to get into the diving suit and since my upper arms are quite stiff, it indeed wasn’t easy. But Matjaz and my brother helped me, and we finally managed. After Matjaz hooked up all the necessary equipment, I was ready to go.
I can swim but I quickly found out that with all the weights and buoyancy controlling devices this is far from easy. Matjaz patiently explained everything to me and I was diving on my belly in no time. However, as soon as I turned on my back, I took in some water and had to get back to the surface. We repeated that several more times with the same result, so we left this for our next session. However, I was able to empty my mask of water and remove and reinsert the regulator quite well, if I can say so myself.
I felt very safe with Matjaz throughout the whole dive, and I will gladly recommend him to all my friends who decide to have a go at the Try Dive experience.