“Scuba diving isn’t really a sport. It’s adventure, exploration and meditation all at the same time.”

Working as a diving instructor, Jago is in the water nearly every day. It’s not only her job, but also her favourite place to be. After so many years she is still in awe of the wonderful world and wildlife under water. Read more about her and her commitment to help preserve this miraculous underwater world for the future. Pics: Julia Jagoditsch

What does your training routine look like?

I am a diving instructor, working as a professional scuba diver. So spending my days in the water is my “every day life”. However, I wouldn’t really call it a “training routine”. Before I moved to Gozo, Malta, I lived and worked in Asia, the Caribbean and Central America. In those places the diving season never ends. So I just moved from job to job, which means I was in the water 340 days a year, two or three times a day.

Back to the roots – Living in Raja Ampat

On Gozo I work as an instructor during the main season from April to November. The job here is different from the other places I have been to, as it mainly consists of shore diving. So the way to the water, as well as getting in and out of the sea is more challenging. That’s when my occasional rock climbing practice comes in handy ;). The logistics are more complicated and energy consuming, as you need to find a good point of entering. It’s tiring but keeps you fit at the same time!

During off-season I like to go for some fun dives with my partner and friends or even a small diving holiday in warmer waters. To stay fit I do yoga twice a week or go climbing. I also train in a gym once in a while. Plus, I walk my dog and enjoy the quiet time to refill my batteries. This also allows me to put back on some “extra pounds” 😉

Favourite places for diving?

There are so many sites for diving around Gozo. Most of them are reachable by shore. During the season we also do boat dives around the islands Gozo, Comino and Malta, depending on the weather and sea conditions.

Where it all began – Pool Demo in Italy 1999

How did you get into diving and your specific routine?

I have always loved to be in the water – whether it was in the Austrian lakes or the sea. I remember my father wasn’t a great fan of the mountains, but loved the sea. So we spent all our holidays in Croatia, Italy and Corsica. When I was 13 I attended a “pool demo” for scuba diving at the camping site where we were staying. From that moment on, I was hooked on diving! Back in Austria I joined a club in Klagenfurt, where I completed my first courses. Later on I also participated in some longer weekends in Croatia. Unfortunately I nearly stopped diving, when I was a teenager. I was just too “busy” with other things ;). I also didn’t know any other diver back then.

After completing my studies in Photography and Multimedia Art in Austria, I planned on going abroad. So scuba diving was my key. I found a dive centre in Egypt offering me an internship to become a dive master (the first professional level). I accepted and it was absolutely amazing! After Egypt I went to Costa Rica to train and work as an Underwater Videographer. Then I went to Mexico to become a Diving Instructor and it just went on … I didn’t really plan on this, but diving and traveling became my life. It enabled me to visit and live in over a dozen of different countries before I finally settled on Gozo.

For how long have you been doing sports and how regular are you doing sports?

I have always been into some kind of sport. Since I’m from Austria I’ve started skiing at a very young age and I’ve learned swimming even before that. Spending my youth in the countryside I did a lot of cycling, snowboarding, some running and horseback riding at school. I even was part of the basketball team for almost 8 years. But water was always my favourite element. Whether it was on top (in a boat, swimming or snorkelling) or underneath (free diving) or “rolling around in the waves”. I could never get enough of it … and I am still more a fish than a mountain goat 😉

Snorkeling with Sea Lions – Sea of Cortez Mexico

What makes you do sports?

For me scuba diving isn’t really a sport. It’s adventure, exploration and meditation all at the same time. I would describe it as hovering in mid water, while trying to move as little as possible not to scare the fish off. Or as simply enjoying the view while getting carried away by the current … this hardly qualifies as sport for me 😉 Physiologically that’s of course a different story… I dive because there is no place on earth that relaxes me more. There are no phones, computers, televisions or other unnecessary noises or distractions. It’s only me, my breath, water and – if I am lucky – lots of fish ☺

I do yoga because it calms and clears my mind and strengthens and stretches my body. This keeps me away from any pain. Every other sport, I do for a little bit of adrenaline and entertainment.

How do you stay motivated to keep going with your training and not give up?

For diving I usually only need motivation when the water is cold. Otherwise underwater is really the best place for me to be. Even the mere thought of being underwater and in peace is enough motivation for me. If I am not working I occasionally get lazy with my sports routine. The result is that I get bored easily. In this case my body always reminds me that it is time to move again … and it’s a cliché, but with a big dog at home, I don’t really have a choice but to keep moving 😉

Thoughts before, during and after a dive?

BEFORE, off-season: “oh my god, this is going to be COLD!”

BEFORE, in-season: “I can’t wait to get underwater, so I can refresh. Plus everyone is quiet!” (hahaha)

DURING, off-season first 20 minutes: “This is not as bad as I thought!”

DURING, off-season after 20 minutes: “Oh my god, I am freezing!!! I should really get a dry suit! Think of something warm; fire, sun, fire, fire, fire! Are we done yet?”

DURING, in-season: “NICE, still loving it!”

AFTER: “Well, there are worse ways to spend your days … I am glad, I did it!”

Underwater Videographer – Maldives

How does sport influence your daily life?

I always try to do some exercise in the morning to kick-start my day. Sport helps me to stay happy and healthy. If I don’t move enough for a longer period of time, I start to feel off balance.

Would you say you are competitive: when it comes to sport? In general?

No, not at all. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone.

Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share?

Working as a diving instructor entails a lot of responsibility towards the people you are teaching and guiding. Plus, multiple other skills are required. Many dive centres in the world demand more than they are willing to give. Respectively they do not take great care of their staff or appreciate their work adequately.

On the other hand thanks to diving and my job I was able to travel the world, to see and experience things that others will never see. I’ve learned a lot about different cultures, people and life in general. Ultimately it made me who I am now and I am grateful for that.

Spending a lot of time underwater made me as well aware of the beauty and importance of the ocean.

What saddens me the most is that we keep polluting and exploiting the seas. Moreover, most of us are not even aware of their own contribution. As if the sea’s only purpose was to serve us.

We forget that every species is a vital part of this balanced ecosystem – from sharks and whales to corals reefs and plankton. If we keep killing the links of the chain not only the oceans die, but we do too.

Manta Rays – Raja Ampat

What was your most memorable moment?

There are far too many to mention them. Basically I would say all moments where I was able to encounter marine animals in their natural habitat. Like interacting and playing with dolphins and meeting my first big Oceanic White-tip Shark in the Red Sea. Or watching eagle rays, turtles, barracudas and grey reef sharks; or getting cleaned with Mantas in the Indian Ocean, snorkelling with sea lions and a whale shark in the Sea of Cortez. Hovering over a school of hundreds of devil rays in the Pacific … I get goose bumps just from thinking of all the incredibly beautiful moments I’ve experienced underwater!

If you weren’t into sports what would you be doing instead?

For work? I do have a few other jobs here on Gozo: I am still doing some photography and graphic design. I am a certified massage therapist and every now and then I work as a cook ☺

However, if I had to choose something completely different it would be music. I guess I’m not talented enough though ;D

In five key words: What are the best things about your training you want to share with the readers?

  1. exploring
  2. focusing on the present moment
  3. gaining knowledge
  4. relaxing
  5. having fun

Your favourite motivational quote?

If you believe in yourself, anything is possible!

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