The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Junior plunges into scuba diving passion

Junior Vika Gavrilyuk scuba dives in the North Suburban YMCA pool. She and her father try to take a scuba trip at least once a year, during which they may dive up to 12 times throughout the vacation. They have dived in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. Photo by Euben Ko

As a bull shark swam beneath her feet, junior Vika Gavrilyuk floated cautiously at the surface of the Caribbean Sea.

“After looking at the bull shark and thinking that thing can do anything it wants to do, in retrospect, maybe that physics quiz or math test isn’t so bad,” Gavrilyuk said.

Gavrilyuk has swum through caves, explored sunken shipwrecks and has come face-to-face with marine life since she earned her first scuba diving certification at age 13. The certification allowed her to dive in open waters up to 60 feet deep. 

To earn her certification, Gavrilyuk had to first learn dive theory, which is the baseline knowledge of scuba diving.

“[Dive theory is] just teaching you how air pressure works underwater, how to work your equipment, how to care for your equipment [and] what to do in an emergency,” Gavrilyuk said.

After passing a written exam that tested her understanding of dive theory, Gavrilyuk moved on to pool training sessions, during which she learned how to dive with scuba equipment, such as her mask and oxygen tank. Her training culminated in her first open water dive off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

“The first open water dive that I did, I looked down and could not see anything,” said Gavrilyuk. “I had no choice but to go down, and it ended up being a really shallow dive. But nonetheless, the fact that you can’t see the bottom is actually pretty terrifying at first.”

Gavrilyuk received her second certification when she was 14 years old, allowing her to dive down to 130 feet below sea level. 

On her first 100-foot dive, Gavrilyuk saw a turtle with its head in a sponge.

“Sometimes you will have trash floating around the marine life or you will have fish carrying around trash,” said Gavrilyuk. “It’s really sad to look at.”

She often sees cans and plastic bags buried in sand and scattered around reefs, which Gavrilyuk and other divers help clean up.

“Divers are encouraged to bring small mesh bags with their gear so that if they see trash, they are encouraged to pick it up and bring it back to shore,” Gavrilyuk said.

Gavrilyuk has also seen a sunken Volkswagen car and explored an underwater shipwreck. 

During her first shipwreck dive in Mexico, a 9-foot eel swam below Gavrilyuk as she entered the ship.

Vitaliy Gavrilyuk, Vika Gavrilyuk’s father and licensed scuba instructor, gets excited to see his daughter grow and advance despite his personal concerns, he said.

“She wants to go deeper, she wants to see more things, and sometimes teenagers forget about safety,” Vitaliy Gavrilyuk said.

According to Vika Gavrilyuk, diving with her father helps her learn to take in the underwater environment and appreciate the ocean life around her.

“When he dives, he just sits [on the ocean floor] and lets everything unfold,” said Vika Gavrilyuk. “I feel like that’s a habit I’ve picked up on.”

About the Contributor
Jaiden Han, Staff Writer
Jaiden Han (‘26) is a Staff Writer and has been a member of Torch since his sophomore year.