After swimming with the dolphins at age 7 in Discovery Cove, Fla., Taylor Shockley decided on a career path and has stuck to it.
The 12-year-old North Augusta Middle School pupil wants to be a marine biologist. The experience also sparked her family’s interest in diving.
For three years she and her mom, Bobbi, watched as her father, Chris, went on diving adventures, but now it’s their turn to jump in. Taylor and her mom became certified through Scuba Schools International in August.
Taylor and her mom trained at Neptune Dive and Ski in Augusta, where Taylor was one of the youngest students to ever go through Ron Wheatley’s dive school. Because Wheatley doesn’t normally teach students as young as 12, Taylor had to go through a round of consultations to make sure she was up to the challenge.
She was also reminded that it is a life-threatening, dangerous sport.
Dive school consisted of 10 weeks of pool classes, a written test and then the final open water test for certification at Ginnie Springs, Fla.
Dive conditions the day of the test weren’t the most comfortable, Bobbi explained, stating that the water was a chilly 63 degrees. The test consisted of exercises like air sharing, and on the final dive of the test the mother-daughter team paired up.
“It’s very mentally challenging,” Bobbi said. “It was amazing.”
Ginnie Springs offers clear visibility and the chance to see fish.
“The crawfish pinched me,” Taylor said.
Taylor said Ginnie Springs was only the beginning of a lifetime of diving, and now with the family trio all certified, trips are being planned.
For Halloween, they are planning to dive at the Epcot DiveQuest. She is also interested in the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, she said, but she isn’t quite ready for the ocean.
Diving has helped her mature, Taylor said, and has taught her to be cautious. It also comes with a lot of responsibility, she said. She dived 46 feet upon completion of diving school at Ginnie Springs.
Taylor said she plans to major in psychology and minor in marine biology and zoology.