Miranda Krestovnikoff and friends, ready to dive

I have always been a water baby. Born an Aquarius, I was always jumping into water from an early age. I guess I was destined to be a diver; it was just a matter of time.
I was never really exposed to scuba-diving as a child, as we lived about as far away from the sea as you can get. But you tend to try out lots of things at university that youve never done before, and that was when I started to get interested, though I was too broke and too busy doing other stuff to take it up.
However, after leaving uni, earning some cash and staying on in Bristol, I decided to join the University of Bristol Underwater Club. It seemed a cheap and rather sociable way of learning to dive.

How right I was on both counts! I paid a small joining fee to cover weekly pool training, and after just a couple of weeks sitting at the bottom of the university pool on Friday evenings, and practising a good bit of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, I had a diving boyfriend! A good start, and a great incentive to keep learning.
As this was a British Sub-Aqua Club branch, the basic training was quite long and thorough - something which I really appreciate when I look back at it.
I had an excellent trainer, who shouted a lot but couldnt have prepared me better for my first few dives.
I never felt, as some people who dive for the first time abroad do, that I had been thrown into the water after only the briefest of lessons.
I spent the best part of two terms having weekly training, and only in the summer break did I get my first open-water experience. I felt more anticipation than nerves when going for my first dive.

I have managed to dig out my first diving logbook, which states that my very first dive, more than eight years ago, was near Skomer in west Wales. I went to a pathetic 6.2 metres and stayed down for only 12 minutes, seeing nothing more than some kelp and a lone spider crab.
But the logbook entry brought back such strong memories of that dive. I remember the excitement of getting into the cold water in my new (and rather purple) semi-drysuit - a bit of a change from a swimsuit in the university pool! I remember the joy of being under water, able to breathe without surfacing and to witness a whole new world of fascinating sea life, a world of which I had only ever seen a glimpse while rock-pooling or snorkelling. Never did I realise that this experience would lead me on to a job of presenting under water.
Looking through the logs of my other early dives, I remember how exciting they were. People underestimate the beauty of UK waters. They are teeming with all sorts of wonderful sea life.
It isnt generally as brightly coloured as on tropical reefs, but what a place to start!
Nudibranchs (colourful slugs), crabs, anemones, and then a night dive - only my seventh dive ever - on which I saw the sea water light up with phosphorescence when I moved my hand through the water, along with real, live octopuses, squid, prawns and tubeworms - and all in 12m of water in the UK! That cant be bad.

Only a year later, I did my first dive abroad in the Red Sea, in Egypt. Warmwater diving is what most people experience as their first dives, and it was the most wonderful experience for me.
Warm, clear, coral waters give rise to a wonderful variety of sizes and colours of marine species. I saw my very first wild dolphins, turtles, rays and sharks (nothing scary - just a sleeping lemon shark who was a bit spooked when he woke up, saw me looking at him and swam off). I was addicted and often dived four times a day, eating and sleeping very well in-between!
Being under water is for me the ultimate therapy and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I guess its some sort of back-to-the-womb experience, as well as the complete contrast with life on dry land.

Before any dive you have the hassle of kitting up. Its hot and you have heavy gear on your back, gauges dangling from your kit and people trying to get you in the water on time to catch the slack tide.
But the moment you hit the water, that all fades away. Youre left with the sound of your own breathing, the gentle crackling of life under water and utter calm.
For a fantastic hour or so you can feel weightless, chill out and become part of the underwater community. Youre a foreigner in this world - you get a quick glimpse and then you have to leave.
My advice to anyone who wants to dive but is worried about feeling claustrophobic or getting vertigo is this: just try it! If youre tempted, youll never know unless you try.
Get some good training at a local dive centre and dont go for a course where you get thrown in the sea before youre sure of what youre doing.

Diving is dangerous only if you decide to take risks. If you know what youre doing and youre confident about it, its a wonderful experience and the ultimate stress relief.
If you want to get away from it all, I can't recommend anything more highly!

Before any dive you have the hassle of kitting up... the moment you hit the water, that all fades away