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Monarch Landing Resident Scuba Diver Hopes To Be The Oldest Woman Diver

She finds opportunities and challenges and dives right in, literally and figuratively.

Jackie Gill, a resident of Monarch Landing senior living community in Naperville, is an avid scuba diver. Although she’s a lifelong water lover, her diving hobby is a bit more recent. “In 2007, I had a trip planned to see the Australian Open. I’m a big tennis fan and decided since I was going to be in Sydney near the Great Barrier Reef, I should probably explore that as well,” she recalled. Never having been scuba diving before, she said, “I thought I’d like to try it out.” Gill took lessons and completed the coursework, training locally at the Illinois Institute of Diving in West Chicago. She earned her open water certification, and there was no turning back. Since then, she has traveled to scuba destinations worldwide, taking monthly trips whenever possible. She has to date, enjoyed 985 dives.

While Grand Cayman has always been among her favorite destinations, she remembers she was a bit “leery” when she saw sharks on her earliest dives there. “One resort purposely planned a dive specifically to see sharks. I decided, ‘well, this is one way to overcome my fear.’ So I went on the dive and decided, ‘this isn’t bad at all.’  I don’t mind the sharks anymore. I respect that I’m in their water. I also know that if they’re zig-zagging, they’re probably getting hungry, so I leave them alone.’” Her other favorite dive destination is Bonaire.

Gill is justifiably proud of the many hundreds of beautiful photographs she’s taken while diving over the years.

“I love scuba diving and can do this forever. My goal is to be the oldest woman diver,” she said. At 73, she has many years to go but is up for the challenge.

Gill similarly ‘jumped right in’ to her life at Monarch Landing when she moved to the senior living community in September. “I’d been living in my condominium in Warrenville. My doctor told me, ‘it’s not healthy to be living by yourself,’ and so I visited Monarch Landing. I got a good feeling. I immediately thought, ‘I would like to live here,’” she recalled.

Gill explained, “The community is beautiful, and there’s lots to do here. The staff is wonderful, the residents are wonderful, and because of the dining program, the ‘no cook, no clean’ factor is a biggie.” She said she enjoys being active and especially loves the water volleyball program. “Oh my god, I love it. It’s twice a week, and we have so much fun. We’re just laughing and playing, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Reflecting on her decision to dive right in to move to Monarch Landing, Gill said, “I love it here!”

Watch more about Jackie on Naperville Community Television