He stands out as a super diver on the beaches of Diani, in the South Coast.
Mark Slingo, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, is a swimmer with a difference.
Slingo is the only diving instructors’ trainer in the East Africa region. He has proved beyond doubt that disability is not inability, following his undying passion for the sea.
Although his hind limbs are paralysed, Slingo has received accolades across the globe for overcoming numerous challenges and training divers.
He has set up the Ocean Tribe scuba diving base in Diani, Kwale County.
A household name in Dinai, Slingo opened the centre in 2015 after undergoing diving courses in Australia and Thailand. He has also worked in Thailand and Egypt.
He has worked as a trainer and instructor for 21 years and continues to conqueror when it comes to matters scuba diving, despite his condition.
“After watching James Bond movies as a child, I got interested in the underwater world,” he said. Originally from Britain, Slingo begun snorkeling and free diving on holidays.
Scuba diving is a water sport where one dives using breathing equipment independent of surface air supply.
On a typical day, Slingo is seen with his team of diving instructors and students as they move from his centre to the nearby Indian Ocean armed with the oxygen cylinders, diving pads, swimming suits, torches, cameras, notebooks and knives.
Apart from being a water sport, diving comes handy during rescue, salvage, fish identification and underwater photographing.
“Since I was a child, I loved diving. I started learning how to dive from a swimming pool,” he said.
His centre offers 40 courses that include scuba diving trips, dive courses for beginners, instructor levels and water sports.
The diving locations are in Mombasa, Lamu, Kilifi and Watamu. In the South Coast, one can dive at Diani beach and Kisite Mpunguti National Marine Park.
An instructor at the centre, Natalie Skipworth, said diving may seem difficult to execute, but it’s an easy task to perform.
“To some, this art seems like a mountain to climb but to Slingo, scuba diving is one of the easiest tasks one can learn. While you are gliding around enjoying the underwater sights, you are engaged in only three basic skills; floating, kicking and breathing,” Skipworth said.
Clad in diving wet suits, Jordan Snozzel said scuba diving was getting better as he plunged into the seabed and back.
“It is my first time to scuba dive and it looks great. From the training I am getting here, I know I’ll sharpen my skills,” Snozzel said.
Apart from his work as a director at Ocean Tribe, Slingo also serves as the director of training and marketing for Disabled Divers International, a leading training organisation for disabled divers in the world.
In 2017, he received the coveted platinum Pro 5000 award, which is reserved for a few prominent and privileged divers in the world.
Slingo was mentored by Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) course directors Stephen Blumenthal and Russell Martin in Thailand.