Last year, the female divers of Grand Cayman came together to break a world record by forming a chain of more than 100 divers underwater to mark Women’s Dive Day. This year, organisers are grappling with how to top that while observing social distancing and increased sanitisation regulations in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s a bit tricky this year because obviously ‘groups’ or ‘events’ are not encouraged,” said Jo Mikutowicz of Divetech, “so I am just trying to lay it out that it’s more of a day to come shore diving and help us complete a challenge.”
Celebrating female dive instructors
To honour the tenacity and dedication of female dive instructors, Mikutowicz is focussing on them this year for Women’s Dive Day (Saturday, 18 July) and has issued them with a challenge to dive, cumulatively among them, a distance of 58 miles – the equivalent to length of Grand Cayman’s coastline.
She said she has reached out to the female instructors “who still have or will eventually have or are hoping to have jobs again with all the dive shops on the island”.
The dive instructors will be representing their respective dive centres on 18 July.
“I really wanted this Women’s Dive Day to focus on the female instructors of the Cayman Islands. Things have not been so great in this industry since the end of March, with still a big hill ahead to climb,” Mikutowicz said in an email to the Cayman Compass.
“Some/most of these women have lost their jobs, have had to move houses, their friends have left, they couldn’t dive for months – which is the only place most of us find sanity – and really have no secure plan for the future at the moment. Obviously, the easy thing would have been to leave, but they haven’t, which shows their strength and resilience.
“They stay here to help their companies carry on through this hard time and support the Cayman Islands dive industry, even though the situation is not ideal.”
To take part in the challenge, the instructors will gather at Divetech’s Lighthouse Point location on North West Point Road in West Bay. A distance will be set in front of the site and all the divers will dive multiple times throughout the day until, amongst them, they have covered 58 miles.
But it’s not just about the instructors.
Divetech is inviting all local divers and residents to come along and cheer for their favourite instructors, help them complete the challenge, and raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation at the same time.
Divers can take part in a shore dive anytime from 7:30am until 5pm for a $25 donation to the Breast Cancer Foundation – which includes air tank and weights. They can dive in their own buddy groups or accompany one of the instructors taking part in the challenge.
“While on their shore dive, each resident can also help us cover some distance on the line, what each person swims will then be deducted from the total that the female dive instructors need to swim,” Mikutowicz said.
Anyone that would like to participate needs to be a certified diver and have dived in the last year.
“There is no official start time, just an entire day, 7:30am-5pm ,for people to come and go,” Mikutowicz said. “We have lots of outdoor space and benches to accommodate everyone while staying socially distanced from each other. We do encourage pre-registration so we can get an idea of what time people plan on showing up so we can safely accommodate everyone who plans on stopping by throughout the day.”
Additional donations to the Breast Cancer Foundation are also welcome.