A Trailblazer from Chennai – A Story of Dive Instructor – Madhumathy

Madhumathy Chandrasekaran, born and brought up near the shores of Chennai took swimming lessons when she was just 4 years old.  An absolute water baby, she loved being in the water. While growing up searching for the coins underwater in the pool was her pet game and never ever thought that one day she will be involved in underwater research. She was not into competitive swimming but hit the waters during weekends.

Getting hooked on SCUBA diving

This was not a pre-planned profession. She had planned to do a marine undergraduate course. A casual SCUBA diving in Pondicherry ( her tennis coach runs a dive centre Temple Adventures in Pondy) when she was 17 years old changed her life for good and she got hooked on diving being captivated by the ocean and the rich marine life. Deciding to become a professional diver and discontinue her college studies ( BSc Biotechnology) was a major decision taken by her and supported by the family. As she was steadfast in her decision, her parents agreed to support her only if she continued her studies in distance education. While continuing her under graduation in distance education, she trained hard, away from home at Pondicherry to become a Dive master when she was 18.5 years old, the first professional level in SCUBA diving.

Life’s challenges

Life always throw challenges to build our self-belief, patience & resilience. Soon after she became a dive master she was bedridden for 2 months due to a bulging disc. This was a very difficult phase for her, a young girl rearing to go and prove herself in an unknown and not so popular field had to overcome uncertainties in life with a bleak future staring at her.  Those were the trying times spent questioning herself on her choice of profession, quitting regular college and investing huge money to reach the professional level. Luckily after unsuccessful visits to couple of Orthopaedics, she found the right one who boosted her confidence and guaranteed her recovery with complete bed rest.  She made huge efforts to stay positive with the help of her family and  was motivated by her urge to succeed in her profession.

Youngest Female Instructor

After 6 months she traveled to Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands (around 3200 km from New Zealand) to work as a Divemaster and complete her Instructor course. This was her maiden overseas travel that too very far off from her homeland. The job of a divemaster is strenuous and tiring, preparing the equipment, filling and carrying the cylinders, preparing the boat, and guiding the divers. She was literally cut off from the family as internet charges were expensive and she had to walk 20 minutes for a free wifi hotspot to send messages on FB. As India is 15.5 hours ahead in time It will be midnight 12.30 pm in India when she could send messages. She did not share her hardships with her parents except how tired she was both physically and mentally but always sounded confident of reaching her goal. A simple homemade rasam and potato fry was missed in the cold weather. An instant connection with family when she was down was terribly missed. Having lived all these years in Chennai, she battled the rough and cold weather, dived in the Great Pacific to become the Youngest Female Instructor in Tamil Nadu and one of the youngest in India. She also passed the Instructor exams in six different specialties.

A Life Changer

Her travel and stay in Rarotonga transformed her life as a person and a Professional Instructor. Staying in a dormitory with a single toilet, managing cultural bias, homesickness and food habits were not easy but she was resolved to prove to herself how resilient she was, self-assured of the end result. She returned home a better person, learning more about herself, understanding the importance of money and relationships.

Maritime Archaeology

While diving in different waters in India, Cook Islands and Cambodia, she was fascinated by the history of the oceans, its amazing wealth and stories it offered.  Coupled with her love for sea she decided to study further in Maritime Archaeology. Though she didn’t have the basic knowledge in Archaeology, she got admission in Flinders University, South Australia due to sheer passion for the underwater and her diving skills. She was lucky to learn from the best brains in Maritime Archaeology and when she completed her Masters in 2019, she was the first trained Female Marine Archaeologist in India. Yes in every word she is a Trailblazer.

Field Schools and Excavations

Madhumathy, the first Female Indian student to study Maritime Archaeology in Flinders, made the country proud by being the first recipient of MaP fund to participate in a field school in Vietnam. Her other awards include Flinders University Vice Chancellor’s academic commendation for high GPA, first Indian to do internship in Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington DC. She was involved in underwater investigations in Australia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The notable ship wrecks investigations were  “Amazon ” and “ South Australian “  which helped her to   acquire technical skills like photogrammetry, side scan sonar, GIS, drone photography apart from archaeological survey and site mapping. She was part of a team which investigated a possible 300 B.C temple in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Madhumathy works as a Master Scuba Diver Trainer in Temple Adventures, Pondicherry and also spends considerable time in her research work. Her vision is to pursue research in India and explore the vast marine resources available here. She is interested in sharing her knowledge with young archaeologists and archaeology students by conducting out- reach programmes.  Any university can contact her for getting their students trained in SCUBA diving and to learn more about underwater research. She has delivered lectures in Tamil University, Tanjore and AVC College, Mayiladuthurai.

The other facets of Madhumathy are a passionate singer, articulate speaker, resilient and ambitious woman, a voice for women’s issues, volunteer, and a soft skills trainer. She is reachable at +91- 9361695437 /

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