Miss Scuba International


Diving at Sipadan with Miss USA

My journey so far as Miss Scuba United Kingdom has been a whirlwind, and it seems only yesterday I was flying out to Malaysia to compete in the final of Miss Scuba International. It’s been an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ve met 17 beautiful women from 17 different countries who will stand as ambassadors for the diving industry with the purpose of promoting marine conservation worldwide, and I have unforgettable memories and experiences.

Mabul Island

The water bungalows that we stayed in on Mabul Island

The water bungalows that we stayed in on Mabul Island

The first week of the competition we stayed on Mabul Island. The island is beautiful, situated on the East coast of Malaysia, and surrounded by crystal clear blue water. The beach is lined with palm trees and there are starfish, lion fish, blue spotted sting rays, and even turtles swimming in the sea around us. We stayed in water bungalows and I was paired with Miss Korea to share a room.

Our schedules were busy – waking up between 5 and 6am every day and often not finishing until late in the evening. We spent the first couple of days diving on the house reef and we also dived a couple of times at Sipadan, which is near the coral triangle so there is an abundance of marine wildlife here. On the boat out to Sipadan we spotted dolphins in the distance, and diving we saw turtles, white tip reef sharks, puffer fish and lion fish – to name a few!

Whilst at Mabul Island we also took part in three days of workshops with WWF Malaysia and Manta Trust – learning about the dangers the ocean is facing from anthropogenic action. Their work is commendable and inspiring. It has been a huge learning curve for me and has fuelled my motivation to stand as an ambassador for the UK to share this knowledge.

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With Miss Scuba International 2012 – Jamie Piyada – who hosted the Manta Trust workshop

Kokol Resort

Our next stop was Kokol Resort in Kota Kinabalu. We flew from Tawau to Kota Kinabalu and took a transfer up to the resort, situated on a mountain high above the city. Once again the resort was amazing – we were spoilt with accommodation choices! We arrived at the hotel at night and could see the lights of the city below, however waking up in the morning the view was breathtaking. Situated high up one of the mountains the hotel overlooks Kota Kinabalu and has incredible views of the sea. In the day we ventured out on a mountain trek and took part in a workshop on public speaking. The talent show was held here in the evening – this part of the competition allowed the girls to show their unique talents and provided a further view into everyone’s personalities.

After spending two nights at Kokol Resort we took a transfer down to Kota Kinabalu where we spent two nights for the final. On the way to the city we stopped at the Bukit Harapan orphanage. The children here are all special needs and have either been orphaned or their parents have not had the capacity to care for them because of their disabilities. However, the work of the careers here is incredible. Their dedication and love for their job is so inspiring and they care for these children 24/7 and look after them as if they are their own. It was touching to hear their stories and we spent the morning playing games with them.

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Here I am with Anastasia – a six-year-old girl and the orphanage. We drew and coloured this drawing in together.

The Final

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Evening gown round

When we arrived in Kota Kinabalu, we had catwalk training both days –  choreographing our routine to perfection, so that there are no mistakes on the night. Walking into the room for the first time was pretty daunting – there were around 600 people attending the event and I had never been on stage in front of so many people.

The final opened with the national costume round. I wore a costume based on Britannia – the female personification of Britain. Next is the swimwear round which required us all to wear white swimming costumes, and finally the evening gown round – my favourite of the three. From these three rounds they call the final five to answer a question on marine conservation. To my great delight I was called as one of the final five and we each answered a question which was judged and added to our total scores.

My experience as Miss Scuba United Kingdom has been incredible and I feel so lucky and proud to have represented the United Kingdom and placed in the top 5. I’m excited to continue on my journey as Miss Scuba United Kingdom and I hope to use my position to inspire change and share the knowledge I have on marine conservation, and of course, continue diving and encourage others to get involved!

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All the contestants taking part in Miss Scuba International

I am currently in Thailand doing my rescue course and will be flying to Vietnam to dive in a couple of weeks.

Sarah Winterbottom

Sarah Winterbottom

Sarah Winterbottom is currently the title holder of Miss Scuba United Kingdom. She won the title in October, and since then has gone on to compete in the international finals of Miss Scuba International in Malaysia, placing in the top 5. Since winning Miss Scuba United Kingdom has completed her PADI advanced open water and dry suit qualification and is currently doing her rescue course in Thailand. Sarah also dived in Egypt, Cyprus, Malaysia and the UK for the first time since entering the pageant, and hopes to continue diving this year and to learn more about marine conservation. Sarah is from London and when she isn't diving - or doing all things Miss Scuba - works in PR. Sarah loves to workout and train at bootcamp several times a week. She also loves taking part in high intensity obstacle courses and took part in Tough Mudder last year in order to raise money for Deptherapy. Sarah is multi-lingual, having studied Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Manchester, and was lucky enough to live in South America as part of her degree. Travelling is a huge passion of Sarah's and she will be going on to dive in Vietnam after Thailand.

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