Scuba diving with diabetes is tough, but not impossible for Iowa 10-year-old

Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Scuba diving is a sport most people can enjoy, no matter their age or athletic ability. One young diver from eastern Iowa is proving that’s true, following a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis in 2018.

10-year-old Stella Gent has wanted to learn how to scuba dive since snorkeling on vacation in Florida. She’s one of the youngest divers to get her certification at Diventures in North Liberty. But her age isn’t the only thing that makes her classes unique.

Stella lives with Type 1 diabetes, a condition that for years, was a concern for divers, due to the need to control blood sugar. The Divers Alert Network says those with Type 1 are at risk for hypoglycemia, a result of low blood sugar. Above water, Stella could eat a snack to get that level back up. But if it happens during a dive, it could be dangerous. High blood sugar can also be a concern.

“In Stella’s case, you know, we may have to take some insulin before we go down,” says open water instructor Joey Johnson.

With her doctor’s approval, and under the careful watch of her instructors, Stella is able to jump in like any other kid.

“It’s really cool cause you can breathe and swim faster and faster cause of fins,” she says.

“I remember when Stella got down and she was like, oh, this is so cool, cause she’s breathing underwater and she could see underwater,” says Johnson. “It’s a whole other world. And it’s a world that people just see in pictures and stuff and when you actually get to take them into it and they see the ‘Finding Nemo’ landscape that’s right in front of their eyes, it’s super awesome.”

It’s a world Stella will get to explore on her next trip to Florida.