Scots baby free dives with dad, four months after premature birth

Four month old Mara Wasik who, after a tough start in life, is mastering the art of free diving.'She is pictured with dad, Shane. Picture: Nikki Wasik.
Four month old Mara Wasik who, after a tough start in life, is mastering the art of free diving.'She is pictured with dad, Shane. Picture: Nikki Wasik.
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She arrived in the world almost ten weeks early and her weight dropped to little more than a bag of sugar after she was born.

Now, at just four months old, a Scots baby has moved on from her traumatic start in life to free dive underwater.

Mara Wasik pictured in hospital after her premature birth -now she's mastering the art of free diving. Picture: Shane and Nikki Wasik

Mara Wasik pictured in hospital after her premature birth -now she's mastering the art of free diving. Picture: Shane and Nikki Wasik

With a father who swims with sharks for a living - and a Gaelic first name which means the sea - Mara Wasik seems destined to be a water baby.

Hand-in-hand with her father Shane, she progressed from basic swimming lessons to free dive underwater for the first time last week.

Mr Wasik, 37, who runs Basking Shark Scotland, escorting tourists to swim with the gentle giants in the Hebridean waters off Oban, said: “We have been swimming with Mara a few times but this was the first time I have tried to do something underwater.

“Mara is doing really well now after her rough start to the world. She will soon be five months old and she is taking to the water well. Not quite ready for the Atlantic yet but a 30 degree pool is fine.”

Mara Wasik pictured in hospital after her premature birth -now she's mastering the art of free diving. Pics by Shane and Nikki Wasik

Mara Wasik pictured in hospital after her premature birth -now she's mastering the art of free diving. Pics by Shane and Nikki Wasik

For their first few months babies have a breath holding reflex action and after getting Mara used to being quickly dipped in the water, as a fun game, she was happy to take her first free dive with her father, while her mother, Nikki, captured the moment on camera.

Mrs Wasik, 36, said: “She is just a little mermaid, she has come through so much, against all the odds, she was never meant to be here so early.”

Mara’s mother was rushed by ambulance from Oban to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

Mr Wasik was at a trade event in Birmingham when the drama unfolded. His wife had driven to Glasgow, to pick up a friend who flown from New Zealand to spend a holiday with them.

All was well when the women returned home and friend Gina Richards, 47, went for an early night after her long journey.

Mrs Wasik said: “She was pretty jet-lagged. We got home to Oban about 5pm on a Sunday night and by midnight I was at the hospital. I had started having funny little pains and felt not quite myself so I phoned NHS 24, then I started bleeding. They wanted to send a helicopter, but we decided just phoning 999 was OK.

“I felt like I was making a big fuss, so I just left my friend sleeping, I left her a note to say could she please feed the cat.”

After a quick check over at Oban’s Lorn and Islands hospital she was transferred to Paisley.

She said: “It was a blue light journey and we hit a deer on the way. It’s a windy road and would normally take two and a half hours but I was there in an hour and 40 minutes - and that included the deer accident.

“We were driving at about 70 miles an hour and then we came to a complete stop - they didn’t want to worry me but when we got to hospital they said there had been a wee deer on the road.”

Mara’s birth weight of 3lb 6oz dropped to just 2lb 13oz and she spent six weeks in the hospital’s special baby care unit because she was so premature she couldn’t suck to feed.

Mrs Wasik said: “On the Wednesday morning her wee heart rate kept dropping and when she was born it was quite sad because they said you might not even get to look at her. She wasn’t breathing and had to be ventilated, but she was just amazing, in 36 hours she was breathing on her own. She is the bravest thing, now she is free diving with daddy.”