Sarah Richard — Fierce Feminist diver
• • • Sarah Richard, Founder of Girls That Scuba/ Freedive and A Waste Free World, is a delight. Since leaving the UK over a handful of years ago, she has been travelling around the globe, leaving a positive impact on the scuba world wherever she stays.
So lovely to meet you Sarah. I first came across you via your Instagram account, A Waste Free World. Can you tell me a bit more about this page?
We initially started to see the interest for plastic-free related information arise on the Girls That Scuba account. People would write to me asking questions about plastics and marine debris. It is not just about plastics in the ocean, but rivers, and on land. As that is where people have more of an opportunity to make an impact. A Waste Free World is there to encourage people to live a plastic and waste-free life.
What is the story behind Girls That Scuba? What made you start this amazing community of female divers?
I went diving for the first time ten years ago, and since then, I knew that scuba diving would be in my life somehow, but I just didn’t quite know how at the time. I am now a Divemaster – although, I didn’t plan to become one, and I also run various trips across the year to different parts of the world.
Girls That Scuba is dedicated to empowering women using diving. By creating a safe place to share information, the organisation is about balancing out the diving community and making it more mainstream to see female divers out there. One thing I noticed when I started out was that it was a very male-dominated industry. Even when looking at images on the internet of scuba diving, it seemed to just be pictures of men.
So creating diversity has been important for me. Since learning to dive, I’ve always wanted to create a group where women felt comfortable to have a conversation about everything to do with scuba diving. Questions like, ‘can I go scuba diving whilst on my period?’ and ‘what do I do with my hair?’ many females ask, and the answers haven’t always been as available as they are today.
Being such a large, global community of female divers, how would you say that Girls That Scuba has changed women’s diving?
I would say just making it more mainstream to see females out diving. We want to appeal to younger girls who aren’t of age to dive yet, but can look online and see normal females out there slaying it in the water. If someone hasn’t tried it before, they might see other women out there and consider giving it a go. So it’s all about spreading the message through imagery and stories.
What is your favourite place to dive?
Definitely Mexico, it just has everything there – down by Belize there are some amazing spots… Then on the other coast (Pacific), you have blue whales and orcas and dolphins.
Where is still in your bucket list?
There is an island in Mexico called Socorro, a 16 hour boat ride away, that has some of the most stunning underwater scenery and the wildlife will come right up to you. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site and we actually have a trip planned there in January 2020, so I will get to live that bucket list item then!
You have both GT Scuba and Freedive, tell me a bit more about Girls that Freedive and how you manage activity between them?
I actually manage about 17 social accounts, which keeps me busy! I’m a Master Diver. Although, I’m not a freediving instructor, I do freedive and have my SSI. We started ‘Girls That Freedive’ as a way to tap into the freediving community and encourage girls who may have tried scuba to give free diving a go. We noticed that there were many images of girls in sexy swimsuits underwater appearing to be freediving, and not as many of normal girls doing proper freediving wearing the wetsuit and all.
I’ve always wanted to create a group where women felt comfortable to have a conversation about scuba diving
Do you attend regular beach cleans? How do you feel is the best way to incorporate a mini beach/sea clean into your dives?
Yes we do, we do regular beach cleans in the format of a meetup, and you also get the opportunity to connect with like-minded folk. So it’s a double win. We also will take trash from the sea whenever we are diving. But I am hoping to come up with a way to make it easier to collect marine debris when out diving. Something along the lines of a small mesh bag that you can attach to your thigh. This is something we need to research further, and could potentially partner with another brand on it.
So what has 2019 got in store for Sarah?
Well it is a busy one! Girls That Scuba has five upcoming international retreats scheduled in Egypt, Jordan,
Florida and two in Mexico. Lasting for seven days, those on the retreats get the opportunity to go on two to three dives each day and be exposed to a whole plethora of different underwater life ranging from wild dolphins to Tiger sharks. What we love about Sarah is how she has created an open space for all women to discuss with each other any queries and concerns they may have when it comes to diving.
On the @girlsthatscuba Instagram page, the organisation has just started an amazing initiative that every Wednesday they will answer any #girlsthatscubaproblems, encouraging their followers to put their questions in the comments. We know we would definitely have some questions to ask ourselves! Sarah has a blog of herself called ‘coffeewithasliceoflife’ that we will link so you can see what this Fierce Female is up to when she’s not diving (which is a lot!).
Last month, Sarah launched a bunch of merchandise that can be purchased from the GTS store, as well as the Girls That Scuba Membership. Learn more here.
• • An incredible inspiration, Sarah Richard is paving a path for all women to put on a mask and jump into the ocean. Her dedication to bringing equality to the scuba diving sphere excites us all at SLO and we can’t wait to see what the rest of 2019 has in store for her!