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Jilly Dives Deeper



So we finally got our act together and had our chat about going techie from a woman's point of view. Chatting in true incestuous stylee with Jilly Healey who taught our other interviewee Amanda to dive, but I guess most of you will have realised by now that the diving world is actually pretty small.

ME: So what was it that made you want to go all techie on your diving?
JILLY: Well I had started to look down and wonder what was there below me. And I knew that I was going to go there at some point anyway, it was just too tempting. Friends of mine had already bounce dived down (and I had a go at them for doing it on a single tank) so I wanted to do it properly.
ME: So were you the first girlie to do it?
JILLY: No I was Leigh's second woman student. He did his girlfriend first... well he had to didn't he?
ME: And how was the training? We have all heard the horror stories (and… I must admit, have seen the expressions on the faces of techie students many a time)
JILLY: It was tough, don't get me wrong, but challenging. Because Leigh hadn't taught that many women at that stage, I think he was a bit unsure of how I'd get on. He was there right by me with his spare reg in my face while I was doing the no breathe swim, and I was like "get away I don't need that!"
ME: How do you find it lugging all that kit about too? It must weigh a ton. I think that might be what puts a lot of women off.
JILLY: It's alright you know. You don't stand around in it for as long as you might if you were recreational diving. You only put it on just before you get in the water and the slings go on last, then you jump. Once you're in it's all weightless anyway.
ME: Cool, and did the diving itself live up to your expectations?
JILLY: Ooh yeah! It's awesome! When you're down there and you look up, or when you can just see what's there. It's different you know, with no other divers around it's great. You can also get narked off your tree. That's when I start singing. Yep when I am narked I start singing out loud. I love it! Jimmy's like "shut up will you?"
ME: So there you have it, from someone who has been techie diving longer than many of us have been diving. It is for the girls too, and there is stuff to see down there. So don't be put off. Although… and this is the stern bit here… I would say, you do need to be sooo comfortable with your normal recreational diving before even considering going down this route. As there is none of that breaking depth by a few centimetres, or not quite making the next stop by the exact time. It is serious stuff, and you can get seriously hurt if you get slack. That is the whole point of doing the course, so you can learn how to minimise the risk of going down there, by learning the right skills and how to use the right kit.

And now the latest bit of news… Jilly has been assisting on Leigh's latest deep project for which the techie gang Ocean Angels went to Mexico in order to get their cave diving techniques nailed. There is a series of deep caves in the Ras Mohammed national park which have been dived before, but never mapped. To ensure safety, they all promised each other that they'd learn to do it the right way with the right training ahead of the project. As Jilly did not join cave training trip, she was outside the system itself, as part of the support team in the blue. On a positive note for the girls, Jilly was the first woman directly involved with one of Leigh's projects, so it is all heading in the right direction.

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