He learnt to swim at 24. Now he’s a divemaster inspiring his community

He learnt to swim at 24. Now he’s a divemaster inspiring his community

Learning to swim opened up a world of opportunities for Chester. In just two years, not only did he learn to speak English, but he became a divemaster and excelled in freediving.

Chester Gumede
Beautiful News

Raised in a seaside village in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, Chester Gumede was always drawn to the ocean. But he was unable to swim. “People from my community face the danger of drowning,” Gumede says. “Some of them die in the water because they don’t know how to swim.” He spent his adolescence daydreaming of the sea’s wonders from the shore, until one day he decided to take the plunge. What he discovered changed his life forever. 

At the age of 24, Gumede set his sights on the turquoise horizon that had eluded him for so long. Enlisting the help of his uncle who was a lifeguard, he started lessons and gradually gained his confidence in the ocean. “When I learnt to swim, my fascination for the sea turned into unconditional love,” Gumede says. Not long after he first set foot in the water, Gumede approached the team at Coral Divers. They offered him a scholarship to become a divemaster and instructor. In just two years, Gumede became an expert in the field, learnt English, and began freediving. 

Now a professional diver, Gumede is a role model to his community. “To know that many people look up to me for my achievement makes me feel very proud,” he says. Gumede also assists with local outreach programmes to inspire others to discover the freedom of swimming. “The ocean offers opportunities,” he says. With unbridled perseverance, Gumede has ventured outside of his comfort zone to unleash his true potential.

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