Seven young women are vying for the title of Miss Cayman Islands Universe.
As the excitement builds for the big event this Saturday, some contestants are stepping out of their comfort zones to try something new: scuba diving.
“Personally, I have a fear of the underwater, so to just jump up and say yes, I will scuba dive, it was definitely a big step out of my comfort zone,” said Miss Cayman contestant Keilen Jackson.
Ms. Jackson braved the deep blue on her Discover Scuba Diving course Sunday morning (5 August), encountering a squadron of reef squid on Macabuca’s house reef.
“Honestly, [the squid encounter] was frightening in the beginning because I was like, oh my gosh, what are they going to do?” laughed Ms. Jackson. “But after awhile when I saw that there wasn’t really any danger, they were small, they were probably more afraid of me that I am of them, I absolutely loved seeing them.”
The DSD course was another unforgettable moment in a whirlwind year for Ms. Jackson, who told Cayman 27 becoming a contestant was another big step in her personal development.
“Entering the pageant was another big step out of my comfort zone, and I am a strong believer and I live by fighting your fears, overcoming your fears,” said Ms. Jackson.
“It was like I was in a whole new world,” added Miss Cayman contestant Vanessa Douglas. “As you know we are humans so our natural habitat is on land here, so it was really nice to go down and see the world that is under the sea.”
Ms. Douglas also had to overcome her fears to participate in the Discover Scuba Diving course.
“I am honestly proud that I did so because one of the things that I wanted to accomplish entering this pageant is being able to step out of my comfort zone and try new things,” said Ms. Douglas.
Before taking to the reef, the contestants were run through their scuba skills basics with certified instructors like Jess Smith, who helped organise a group of five volunteer dive instructors.
“It’s good to introduce [the contestants] into new and challenging things, and I think a particularly is good to try and get more Caymanians into it and try to use the contestants as a taster, just to get them to obviously get a piece of experience of Cayman and what Cayman has to offer,” said Ms. Smith, who is believed to be the first female Caymanian scuba diving instructor.
“What I saw underwater was definitely life-changing, it was a great experience,” said Ms. Jackson.
“It’s a home for fishes, all of the sea creatures, and I think it is also very important to protect the coral reefs, because they need it to survive,” said Ms. Douglas.
Five dive instructors volunteered their time to make the opportunity available to all Miss Cayman hopefuls, and Sundivers provided free tanks and all the equipment.
The next Miss Cayman will be crowned Saturday night (11 August) at the Westin.