PADI is the world’s largest organization for teaching and certifying scuba divers. The annual event, now in its third year, represents PADI’s diligent efforts to narrow the generation gap for female divers by inviting their members, industry icons and recreational divers to participate in more than 400 locations in 50 countries worldwide.
“PADI supports events that gather divers together,” said Rocio Gajon, Ocean Enterprises event coordinator. “Women’s Dive Day is the perfect way to say ‘Hey, I’m going to refresh my skills, meet new people and celebrate with women who love the ocean.’”
According to Gajon, the shores of La Jolla are filled with seasonal marine life. Leopard sharks, bat rays, tuna crabs, sea horses, corn sharks, plant life, coral, kelp, and “everything that comes from the depth of the ocean,” are noted favorites. Highlighted as a marine reef because of its multitude of migrations and mating seasons, the sea life varies within the ocean levels and terrains.
“You may not see anything in the shore sand, but 100 yards away lies a cave so full of marine life, it takes 45 minutes to go 15 meters,” she said. “Much of the marine life is hidden and camouflaged. The La Jolla Shores is such a beautiful cold-water dive.”
Gajon stressed that Ocean Enterprises remains in full compliance with PADI’s standards and regulations. “Blessed” to run the event on this picturesque shoreline, their team of experts encourage women to “gather together and meet dive buddies,” a task that isn’t always easy. Female-certified “pioneers” often fall short of consistency in the sport because they “struggle to find diving companions.” At the onset of her own career, Gajon was often shunned, based on the prejudice that as a female she would most likely require assistance.
“I was a professional dive master and ignored by many men because most assumed - as a woman, I would need help,” she explained. “Although diving was once considered a man’s sport, Women’s Dive Day is a great way to bring awareness that women are great divers.”
“We host PADI’s Women’s Dive Day to bring women together to socialize and encourage each other,” added Werner Kurn, President and CEO of Ocean Enterprises.
“Women’s Dive Day exposes more women to the sport of diving, to let go of the reputation that diving is a guy’s sport.”
Before Jacques Cousteau, diving was considered a man’s sport. Gear, including wet suits, were only made for men. Initial certification required arduous and dangerous swim testing, passed by mostly men and those serving in the military. Cousteau’s aqualung – the first commercialized scuba-regulator – endorsed diving as a public sport.
“Years ago, scuba diving had a really bad name because no one learned how to scuba dive, they just tried it and got hurt,” continued Kurn. “People borrowed equipment – originally made only for men – without understanding the physics and physiology of the water, its pressure and how water depth affects the body. Accidents happened. People got hurt. Today, there are hardly any accidents because everyone must pass certification classes that teach the art of the sport. Today, the once-macho sport is really popular among women.”
Kurn suggested that the onset of women in the industry changed the industry. “I believe that women are actually better divers than men,” he said. “Women are more relaxed. Without having anything to prove, there’s no machoism.”
As the sport grew, women and children – now wearing gear made specifically for them – elevated its popularity. No longer a man’s sport, Gajon is also convinced that women “as educators, will pass the legacy to younger generations.”
Gajon was born and raised in La Paz, Mexico, where she “swam like a fish” in the Sea of Cortez. PADI certified by age 16, her passion for diving landed her in San Diego to begin “diving in every corner of the world.” To date, Gajon has logged almost 4,000 dives along the coast of California, Baja, Cuba, Cenotes, Italy, Palau, Papa New Guinea, Thailand, M. Sulawesi, the Mayan Riviera, and islands of Solomon, Komodo, and Cook. The PADI, IDC Staff Instructor also serves as manager and trip leader for Ocean Enterprises.
“The water gives me a sense of peace,” she said. “I’m more comfortable in the water than I am on land. Floating, swimming, enjoying the life that breathes and evolves through the water mesmerizes me. I’m here to swim with those creatures.”
Rajon encourages women to never give up on diving, despite a day’s occasional poor visibility, cold or turbulent waters, or difficult terrain.
“Don’t become disheartened, the ocean changes every minute,” she said. “There’s always another – and a better – day to dive.”
Only certified scuba divers will be allowed to dive. Those who require gear must contact Ocean Enterprises by Friday, July 14, no later than 7 p.m. Ocean Enterprises will provide all open water gear and will brief those unfamiliar with La Jolla Shores. Experienced and novice divers will be paired.
“We figure out what you need so you spend your time learning your skills,” concluded Gajon. “Women’s Dive Day is for sharing a good time together. Everyone is invited to bring their friends and significant others – even men!”
Additional event sponsors include Klash, No see Um No More and Sun Bum.