Mokoaleli’s dream to scuba dive



MASERU – An aquatic sport scuba diving is an underwater  sport originated in Spain but played in many modern countries of the world, and to might shock many Lesotho’s own Thato Mokoaleli plans to explore the ocean, learn new techniques and come back to save the lives of his compatriots.

Mokoaleli, from Ha Mabote, Berea, started his journey in swimming in 2015 as a hobby but later realized he wanted to learn more and advance his skills.

He was introduced to lifesaving where he attended a number of workshops and was equipped with certificated skills from various training modules.

He then became a lifeguard in one of the hotels in Maseru, making sure no one drowned on his watch, while also offering basic swimming and survival skills along the journey.

The 23-year-old attended  Unity English Medium Primary School and then went on to further his studies at New Millennium High School from 2013 to 2017; and then from 2018 went to the Lerotholi Polytechnic to study electrical installation.

“I got into some swimming competitions where I was able to get some Gold, Bronze medals and some certificates as well.

When still a lifeguard, due to our country having a small number of people who can swim and save lives I got a number of calls from the Lesotho Swimmers Association and some other individuals telling me of incidents of people who had drowned or been washed away by rivers, dams as well as lakes, I did not have equipment but was willing to help,” he says.

He then worked together with the Lesotho Mounted Police Service divers in its Special Operations Unit on a few missions to search for bodies at the Robert (Motimposo) and Maqalika Dams for most of 2020. Afterwards he was recognized by a popular social media newspaper which put him antics under the spotlight.

“Calls kept on coming but it is unfortunate I was not able to help due to shortage of equipment because I did not want to take risks that would later put me in danger.

There were so many calls, especially last year towards year end and this year at the beginning as we had heavy rainfalls. We had a partnership with Lesotho Defence Force Special Forces divers in which we exchanged knowledge and skills in water lifesaving,” Mokoaleli continued.

He said this took up to two months and was a great success, and that this is where he saw the necessity of learning how to scuba dive “because I wanted to embark on a journey of being a professional scuba diver, it was unfortunate that winter was approaching so we had to stop due to temperature changes.”

“When I was a lifeguard, there were also so many challenges being around a swimming pool watching over people swimming because some claimed they could swim. Yes, they could but the problem was that they were weak swimmers, so dealing with them was quite a challenge…it is just saving the life of someone drunk.

Apart from that, the dawn of the Covid pandemic has also been a challenge because it leads to so many things being shut down, including swimming pools. It is a challenge to us because we aren’t able to offer swimming lessons,” he added.

Mokoaleli wants to improve his knowledge in improving air tank consumption, aquatic knowledge, diving techniques, as these are the usual goals first set by new scuba divers.

“And they are important goals to have as they will help me to become a good diver, apart from that it will be a great privilege to see myself where near oceans because I will one day swim with the big fish such as sharks.”

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