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Podcasts, Webbies, and YouTubes … OH MY!

Last spring, DAN’s nerdy risk mitigation coordinator cum cave diver Christine Tamburri identified the quintessential tech tomes that should be on every tekkie’s bookshelf. Now we have asked her to take us on a dive deep into the world of diving pods, webinars with a few YouTube channels thrown in, to satisfy your listening appetites. Feed your head, and heart.

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By Christine Tamburri. Header image by SJ Alice Bennett

InDEPTH’s Guide To Non-print Oral Diving Media

In the May issue of InDEPTH, we discussed essential reading materials that all tekkies should have on their library bookshelves. Gone are the days of excuse after excuse surrounding the time commitment needed to read a book cover-to-cover. Today, tekkies far and wide are turning to podcasts, webinars, and YouTube Channels to feed their heads on all things diving. From personal storytelling by some of the biggest names in the industry, to discussions on military diving, and everything in between, these resources have become so mainstream that some tekkies have even taken to watching and listening to them on long deco hangs! 

You are invited to the next generation of learning materials and to build that tekkie playlist one podcast, webinar, and YouTube channel at a time. 

The Oral Dive History Collection

Merriam-Webster defines “oral history” as a recording containing information about the past obtained from in-depth interviews concerning personal experiences, recollections, and reflections. There are several podcasts that exist to preserve stories of the greats while providing a wealth of knowledge and entertainment to divers of all abilities and backgrounds:

These are just a few examples of oral history podcasts. Guests include Andy Torbet, Cristina Zenato, Brett Seymour, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Phil Short, and Jill Heinerth with topics ranging from wildlife encounters to cave diving and exploration projects. Regardless of individual interests, there is something for every tekkie within these podcast series! Some podcasts revolve around a common theme, which is the case with National Geographic’s Into the Depths (Host: Tara Roberts). This six-part series follows one woman’s journey to document and preserve the history of slave ships in the Atlantic Ocean. For the tekkie looking for a standalone podcast to listen to on the drive to the dive site, Mentors for Military (Host: Robert Gowin) recorded an episode that discusses the process of becoming a Diving Medical Officer in the U.S. Navy, while an episode from TEK.95 (Host: Fred Garth) relives a presentation given by Dr. Bill Hamilton and John Cera on mixed gas diving from aquaCORPS Tek.95 conference.

From Sidemount Tweaks to Freedive Geeks & Everything in Between

Despite being weightless while immersed, divers gravitate toward a plethora of special interests within the community and, thankfully, there are podcasts for almost everyone—new divers, experienced divers, and even those that are uncertified. Learn all about what it takes to dive from a physiological perspective by listening to Fitness in Diving (Host: Dr. David Charash); The Dive Locker (Host: Tec Clark) takes an in-depth look at teaching techniques, risk management, and the dive business.

For those who love to challenge the status quo and get their cylinders off their back, Speaking Sidemount (Host: Steve Davis) is a fantastic resource for tips and tricks from some of the best sidemount divers in the world. If wearing no cylinders is of interest, Freedive Café (Host: Donny Mac) discusses all things breath holding from world records to everyday training. 

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One unique podcast series surrounds an even more unique subsect of diving. The Bottom Dwellers (Host: Armando Gonzalez) is the only podcast created by commercial divers for commercial divers, but those of all backgrounds are welcome to join in and learn from the discussions. Note that the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI), Houston, Texas just announced (8.19.22) that they plan to debut their first-ever podcast—THE DOWNLINE—soon, where ADCI Executive Director Phil Newsum and Gary Jones, Board of Directors, will discuss relevant industry topics and association news. Listen up hardhat divers!

Another unique sector of diving is rooted in the military, and there are several resources available. Deep-Sea Stories (Host: Ross Garcia) is an in-depth series that covers a variety of topics about the U.S. Navy, while standalone podcasts from Fair Winds (Host: Petty Officer Nathaniel Romeo), The 18th Airborne (Host: Joe Buccino), and Canadian Army Podcast (Host: Captain Adam Orton) cover the United States Coast Guard Dive Program, the training required to become an Army diver, and the nature of work undertaken by combat divers, respectively. 

Podcast Mixtape

If boredom by repetitive topic after repetitive topic comes easily, fear not! There are several podcast series that cover all things diving (and even non-diving). The Dive Table (Hosts: Jay Gardner and Nick Hogle) is a short but impactful series that discusses everything from destination diving to controversial training philosophies. The Scuba Diving Podcast (Host: Kenny Dyal), The Great Dive Podcast (Hosts: James Mott and Brandon Schwartz), The BiG Scuba Podcast (Hosts: Ian Last and Gemma Kemp) and the newly created Into the Overhead (Hosts: Dene Ulmschneider and Joshua Underwood) are all extremely diverse and cover a range of topics like ecology, photography, and rebreather diving. These podcasts have it all! 

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OZ Dive Show Podcast (Host: Dean Laffan and Michael Menduno) focuses on specific accomplishments and areas of expertise for several guests, including Dr. Dawn Kernagis, Professor Simon Mitchell, and Dr. Neal Pollock. 

Into the Planet (Host: Jill Heinerth) recounts the life of one of the most prolific female technical divers in the industry; the hosts discuss cold water diving and women’s empowerment, among other topics. 

There is something for divers of all ages and backgrounds, and boredom will surely be avoided by diving into these captivating podcast series!

Saltwater Stories About Protecting the Planet

Building an engaging and educational tekkie playlist is rooted in variety. Divers may wish to expand their boundaries into the non-diving world with a few podcasts inspired by responsible boating, coral protection, and conservation education. Dockside (Host: Diana Fu) is a new series dedicated to safe and sustainable boating practices, and it hosts discussions on oil spills and lifeguard rescues. 

For nerdy divers who love science, check out Meet the Ocean (Host: Paul North)—a student-led podcast conveying stories from scientists and explorers. One final series that divers may find interesting is OceanPoddy (Host: Madeline St Clair), which discusses shark fin training, ocean physics, and even drone crashes!

For tekkies with packed schedules, a standalone episode by Blue Frontier (Host: David Helvarg and Vicki Nichols Goldstein) interviews explorer Don Walsh as he describes his journey seven miles underwater. 

It is important to remember that without clean, healthy waters, the dive industry cannot thrive and the hobby that we all enjoy could be put into jeopardy. Diving podcasts are an excellent way to learn more about how divers can make a positive impact on the planet!

For Our International Friends

Divers from around the world love to listen to and learn from podcasts of all varieties so, of course, a few international series need to be included for our friends far and wide! For Spanish-speaking divers, there are several choices. Full podcast series include Bajo las Olas (Host: Ester “Garcela” Moreno), which covers wreck diving, cave diving, and more, and BRAVE Divers (Host: Gisela García et al.), which is both a podcast and a YouTube Channel. 

For our Spanish-speaking friends who do not have the time to commit to listening to a full series, there are few standalone episodes that are worth diving into. Journey Sports (Host: Óscar Garza) has two relevant episodes, one about ocean exploration in Mexico and the other about the Great Mayan Aquifer Project. For those looking for chats about going deeper for longer, Radio El Respeto (Host: Félix RodrÍguez) interviewed Miguel Lozano who, as of February 2021, was one of only six freedivers to ever descend to 120 m/393 ft.

A Visual Learner’s Playlist

As the world of technology continues to develop, more and more resources are becoming available for tekkies hoping to feed their head with all things diving. Webinars and YouTube channels are becoming popular mechanisms to learn everything under the sun and under the sea.

Webinar-savvy tekkies may want to dive into content from Divers Alert Network , and Divers Alert Network Southern Africa, which cover topics ranging from hyperbaric chambers, to diving safety and environmental stewardship. Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) offers a deep dive into all manner of (paid) diving content in GUE.TV. They also offer free diving content on the GUE YouTube Channel

One outstanding byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic was an extremely diverse series of more than 70 webinars from The Diver Medic (Host: Chantelle Newman). These cover public safety diving, cave conservation, accident investigations, and so much more, and they are an incredible source of information from some of the biggest names in the industry. 

The author posing for the requisite cheesy product shot

Informative YouTube channels are also a great resource divers can use to build their skill sets and to learn new things about the industry, gear, and training. Setting the standard in edutainment is Jonathan Bird with his BlueWorldTV (Host: Jonathan Bird) YouTube channel. These 10- to 15-minute episodes cover topics like diving in aquariums and crawling through the mud in tiny caves. Jonathan also recently directed an IMAX film, Ancient Caves, which dives into the importance of karst geology and STEM education. With over one million subscribers on YouTube, tekkies of all ages and experience levels will find joy in the cinematography of BlueWorldTV.

Divers Ready (Host: James Blackman) combines education with humor to deliver a wealth of information to knowledge-hungry divers. Time-traveling tekkies may find interest in the Alec Peirce Scuba (Host: Alec Peirce) YouTube channel as he discusses tech tips and vintage scuba in an enthusiastic, yet informative manner. Alec covers cylinder inspections, scuba gear developed in 1955, and other diving history topics, and this channel will always leave viewers coming back for something new, interesting, and unique. 

Rounding out this dynamic list are two educational YouTube channels that keep things lighthearted and exciting. Scuba Jake (Host: Jake Koehler) is a modern-day treasure hunter who takes viewers along on his underwater adventures to find lost phones, wallets, and keys. For his efforts, Jake even won the “Visionary Award” at Beneath the Sea in 2019! DIVE TALK (Hosts: Woody Alpern and Gus Gonzalez) is a newer YouTube channel that also keeps things lighthearted, even while discussing serious topics. Through their infamous “Cave Divers React” videos, Woody Alpern and Gus Gonzalez take viewers along on their adventures into growing as divers and instructors, and through their major success on YouTube, people from around the world are becoming inspired to either start diving or to continue their dive education.

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Whether a tekkie chooses podcasts, webinars, or YouTube channels as their educational secret weapon, it is important to continue to learn and grow as a diver. These platforms streamline education and provide ample entertainment along the way. So, on your next long deco hang or drive to the dive site, tune into one of these resources. You never know what you might discover!


Listen Up Divers: 48 Channels and Counting!

The 18th Airborne
Spend a little or a lot of time with host Joe Buccino as he chats with some of the most prominent figures inside America’s most prestigious military unit. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Alec Peirce Scuba
is dedicated to making your scuba diving easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Alec examines, through his plethora of playlists, the major and minor features of all your equipment needs.

Are you a Scuba Diver – Fancy a brew?
Check out Andy the Northern Diver at Apple Podcasts. Over a brew or two, he has insightful and lively discussions with an incredible range of divers who influence his progression from rec to tech to professional diver.

Bajo las Olas
¡Bajo las Olas ya está aquí! Refrescando, como cada agosto, los días más calurosos en superficie. Esta vez Miguel reflexiona sobre el Valet Diving, y Juan Antonio nos hace viajar a uno de los grandes atractivos de México¡ los cenotes! ¡Esperamos que os guste!

The Big Deep
is in the top 2% of all podcasts listened to worldwide, Big Deep is about and for people who have a strong enough connection to our world’s oceans that they have dedicated their lives to being in or working on behalf of the water.

The BiG Scuba Podcast
features Brits, Ian and Gemma, who are dedicated to all things diving and ocean related. This new, independent podcast aims to provide light-hearted encouragement and inspiration to divers and wannabe divers. 

Blue Frontier
is dedicated to protecting and assuring the health of our oceans, Blue Frontier builds solution-oriented citizen engagement into the decision making processes that will positively impact our public seas and all who depend on them.

BlueWorldTV
Meet talented cinematographer Jonathan Bird, Emmy Award-winning authority on the underwater world, as he documents “the world beneath the waves”.

The Bottom Dwellers
Check out this podcast by working commercial divers for commercial divers. You’ll find sea stories, near misses, and interviews by underwater welders and contractors. Also: beer reviews and diver life in general.

BRAVE Divers
Nos encontramos con Manel Melchor y Roi Freeman para descubrir más acerca de la historia del submarinismo. A tod@s nos apasiona el buceo recreativo, pero ¿somos realmente conocedores de su historia? Una charla muy interesante para aprender más sobre nuestra pasión.

Canadian Army Podcast
Combat Divers are combat engineers with specialized underwater training. Listen in to hear all about the challenging nature of the work of the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering.

DeeperBlue
Your weekly guide to everything happening around the world … underwater. Each week they cover what’s happening in scuba, freediving, dive travel, and ocean advocates.

Deep-Sea Stories
Master Diver Steve Mulholland, in his effort to advance the “Man in the Sea Museum” into full integration with Panama City and Bay County, FL, recounts his time in the Navy Diving and Salvage, Deep Submergence Unit, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support.

Dive Immersion
Carlos Lander is in pursuit of working with public entities who need a comprehensive range of underwater educational programs within the branch of public safety, scientific, and archaeological diving.

Dive In: The Podcast
A weekly all-about-diving podcast based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada with diving news, interviews with guests from all over the world on dive topics, ocean advocacy, and more. Light-hearted show by four avid divers who examine issues relevant to divers and the oceans. New shows every Monday.

The Dive Locker
A podcast for dive professionals, industry leader Tec Clark explores the latest in diving industry resources that make you excellent at teaching, risk management, and business. “If you want to succeed as a dive professional, this is the podcast for you.”

The Diver Medic
Chantelle Newman, EMS Diver, member of the Woman Divers Hall of Fame hosts this podcast to promote safety in diving and provide medical information to divers around the world. Her solutions are practical and much sought-after.

DAN TV
DAN actually is the man! DAN helps divers in need with medical emergency assistance and promotes diving safety through research, education, products and services. If you don’t know the power of DAN worldwide, you need to check it out.

Divers Alert Network Southern Africa
Trusted by millions of divers for more than 40 years, DAN has been the go-to source helping divers, dive professionals and health care providers stay safer and be more prepared. DAN South Africa is particularly active in providing new content on its channel. Take a look.

Divers Ready
Become a better scuba diver—with videos to sharpen diving skills, with sharing hints and tips, with gear reviews to assist in making smarter equipment choices, and with reviews of dive travel experiences to help you plan your next dive adventure.

Dive Stories
PADI shares diving’s most inspirational characters and their narratives with the world. Join them as they talk scuba, freediving, underwater exploration, travel, conservation and how to save the ocean.

The Dive Table
Join hosts Nick and Jay and they pull up a chair at the table and share their stories, opinions, and adventures of the continuing love affair with scuba diving. A down-to-earth, often hilarious, and always honest listen.

DIVE TALK
Listen in as Woody and Gus tackle a variety of subjects from the scuba and dive industries: agencies, rec & tech, cave, rebreathers, destinations, gear, techniques, and a never-ending stream of best practices.

Fair Winds
The US Coast Guard’s Google podcasts for those interested in having a larger appreciation of, and who might even be considering a career in the CG. Host Petty Officer Nat Romeo and his guests share stories about all things Coast Guard related.

Fitness in Diving
An audio series hosted by Dr. David Charash about the six components of diving fitness. In this series, you can expect conversations with leaders in the diving world and discussions about how divers can dive smart.

Freedive Café
Here Donny really goes deep to reveal the personal stories, inspirations, and techniques of freedivers from competitors, trainers, photographers, ocean conservationists, and more. Check it out for yourself.

Global Underwater Explorers’ Youtube Channel
GUE motivates and trains some of the most passionate divers in the world. Their channel is the perfect place to visit if you’re interested in getting deeper into diving. Their goals are to explore and conserve our underwater world and to educate the next generation of avid divers to the highest standards. 

The Great Dive Podcast
This is the Car Talk of Scuba Diving, where James and Brando engage in unrehearsed banter about all things related to their shared passion for exploring the underwater world and the diving community.

GUE.tv
Home to a variety of fun and educational videos where you will find a growing library of underwater demonstrations sure to help you feel more comfortable and capable in the water. GUE.tv is available on all of your devices as a paid subscription.

Into the Depths
Join National Geographic’s explorer Tara Roberts in this six-part series as she documents some of the thousand slave ships that wrecked in the Atlantic during the transatlantic slave trade and follows a group of Black divers who are dedicated to finding and documenting the wrecks of the forgotten.

Into the Overhead
Dene Ulmschneider and Joshua Underwood dive into the underground world.

Into the Planet
The one and only Jill Heinerth, along with Robert McClellan, talks underwater photography, video, technical scuba and basically how to save the planet. Listen in for a treat.

Journey Sports
Host Óscar Garza has two relevant underwater episodes, one about the Great Mayan Aquifer Project, and the other about ocean exploration in Mexico .

League of Extraordinary Divers
Hosted by Tec Clark, this podcast features diving legends of the past and present sharing some of their best scuba diving stories. You’ll hear stories such as their original scuba training, scariest diving stories, funniest diving stories, favorite diving locations, as well as tips for divers.

Meet the Ocean
Voted best Nature Podcast, here host Paul North uses creative sound design and his own storytelling to convince current and future generations that their planet is worth discovering and defending.

Mentors for Military
The hosts of this show are military vets and the guests are fascinating folks with a message to share. Real talk with real people. Check in with them.

My Ocean
[Editors Note: There appears to be a problem with this podcast. It won’t load.] Listeners get to go on an adventure with host Alexis Brown into the minds of some of the world’s true ocean champions and dive into the remarkable ways they are protecting our blue planet by throwing convention to the wind and following their own path to making a difference.

OceanPoddy
Ocean Poddy is a fun, unfiltered (and occasionally tipsy) podcast about the sea, hosted by tropical marine biologist & underwater photographer Mads St Clair. So grab a glass of wine and get ready to dive in as Ocean Poddy brings a menagerie of saltwater-lovin’ people into your daily life—and proves that it’s not all doom and gloom for our blue planet..

OZ Dive Show Podcast
Replays of featured talks given at OZTEK 2019 with diving banter and 2022 OZTEK updates provided by hosts: Dean Laffan, OZDive/OZTek conveyor Sue Crowe, and Michael Menduno

POD Diver Radio
Each episode involves a discussion for serious divers, with top diving experts, educators, scientists, and explorers. Expeditions, equipment, hyperbaric medicine, training, dive travel, aquatic science,free, cave and wreck diving, and all things underwater.

Radio El Respeto
Miguel Lozano and the power of Apnea: 12 people have stepped on the moon in the entire history of mankind, only six have descended to 120 meters on a breathhold.

The Scuba Diving Podcast
Leaders from travel to equipment, aquariums to scuba instructors, mermaids to boat captains, and everything in between are here in one place. 

Scuba Goat
Welcome to Australia’s #1 scuba diving podcast hosted by Matt Waters who hopes to stoke the diving dreams of listeners, spread the word of majestic global dive locations, the operators that provide the foundations and service that we require to submerge, explore and protect our blue world.

Scuba Jake
Everything you ever wanted to know about treasure hunting underwater.

Dockside
With over 20 year’s experience, host Matt Rayl shares first-hand knowledge from experts educating pond and lake owners and lake management professionals. 

Speaking Sidemount
Sidemount diving is sweeping the world and becoming the configuration of choice for many in both rec and tech diving. Here host Steve Davis presents the people, events and ideas that are making sidemount what it is. 

TEK95
InDEPTH magazine featured a talk by the late legendary diving physiologist Dr. RW Bill Hamilton and anesthetist and cave explorer John Crea from the 1995 TEK.Conference held in San Francisco.

THE DOWNLINE
The Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) will be launching their podcast soon. Hosts ADCI Executive Director Phil Newsum and Gary Jones, Board of Directors, will discuss relevant industry topics and association news. 


Dive Deeper

InDEPTH: How Deep Is Your Library by Christine Tamburri


Christine Tamburri is the Risk Mitigation Coordinator at DAN. She began diving in 2016 and never looked back, spending her weekends diving and meeting industry leaders along the way. After graduating from Penn State University in 2020, she decided that a full-time job in the industry was her calling, and she became a summer intern at DAN. Later that year, she was hired into her current role where she develops e-learning courses, assists first aid instructors worldwide, and designs risk assessment tools for dive operators and professionals. Christine is an avid cave and technical diver who spends every spare moment of her free time either cave diving or planning to go cave diving.

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Community

The Risk and Management of Record Chasing

The pursuit of deep diving records is an unsettling but accepted facet of tech diving culture. On the one hand, we are driven as a species by our genetic predisposition to “Go Where No One Has Gone Before.” Blame it on our DRD4-7R explorer gene! On the other, many question the value and legitimacy of conducting a high risk, touch-and-go line dive for recognition and bragging rights alone. Where and how do we reconcile the two? Here diving physiologist Neal Pollock seeks to answer those questions in a compelling, principled exposition that may help you to sharpen your beliefs.

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By Neal W. Pollock, PhD. Header image: Nuno Gomes getting ready to make his 2005 world record dive to 318.25m m/1039 ft in the Gulf of Aquaba.

Humans have probably been chasing records as long as we have existed. Og was almost certainly proud of discovering that two stones could be rubbed together to make fire, and it likely resulted in a solid community standing for at least a while. Tempting though it may be, we cannot blame our interest in records on the advent of the Internet or social media. The Guinness Book of World Records, a small example of documenting novelty, was first published in Great Britain in 1955. The Internet and social media, however, have made the striving for and tracking of new records more intense. 

Record making is well established in diving as well as in most other communities. There are interminable lists of the first makers of equipment, the first to implement or explore, and the most extreme doers of deeds. History shows them to be pivotal, meaningful, or trivial as it unfolds. Keeping the record straight is important, but the decision as to why and whether to pursue records is worth debating. 

I am a fan of documenting meaningful events, but I have concerns over an excessive focus on arbitrary milestones. When a community puts more weight on records than actual achievements, the drive can become pointless or problematic. The pointless includes many Guinness records, such as the most number of people brushing their teeth simultaneously and the largest rubber band ball.

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While some in the diving community have pursued fairly pointless but low risk records, it is the problematic ones that are a much greater concern. Underwater activities involve greater risk than many other endeavors, relying on equipment, training, technique, and practice to produce an envelope in which reasonable levels of safety can be maintained. Pursuing records is generally about pushing boundaries, and when the boundaries are set by the interaction of physics and physiology, the erosion of safety buffers can produce serious risk. The pursuit of targets can overwhelm well-founded safety concerns and common sense. 

“Record chasing can produce good outcomes, and some meaningful achievements, but when going forward is reliant on misplaced beliefs that personal motivation and superiority can overcome unforgiving limits, the outcome can be bad for both individual and community, even if considered successful.” 

Record chasing can produce good outcomes, and some meaningful achievements, but when going forward is reliant on misplaced beliefs that personal motivation and superiority can overcome unforgiving limits, the outcome can be bad for both individual and community, even if considered successful. 

Nuno Gomes’ support team for his 2005 Guinness World Record Dive to 318.25m/1039 ft

One of the chief challenges in diving is that the interaction of physics and physiology creates difficult-to-define limits. There are differences in tolerance between individuals and often between exposures. Different breathing gas mixtures can alter narcotic potential, respiratory gas density, decompression stress, and susceptibility to oxygen toxicity and high pressure nervous syndrome, among other concerns. Differences in workload, stress, physical fitness, and physical skill can also alter the response to other more fixed stressors. Practically, the interactions between the host of factors is complex and can make the element of chance more important than people would like to admit. A scary reality of many boundary-pushing events is the fact that getting away with something once, or even multiple times, does not necessarily make it safe, and almost certainly not safe for all. 

Ahmed Gabr’s 2014 Guinness World Record Deep Dive remains under controversy

Records achieved with a large helping of good luck still count, but they can be extremely troubling if others are encouraged to try to surpass them. Not only can tolerance and good fortune differ, the lessons learned in building to “record” performance may not be appreciated by those who follow, potentially magnifying the risks. 

Care is warranted to decide on what “records” are truly worth pursuing and what should be left alone. A simple practical test is whether an activity serves any purpose beyond the record attempt. If there is no other benefit or purpose, the value in it may not be sufficient to continue, especially when the associated risks may be high. 

Source: Nuno Gomes

Record attempts are sometimes pursued by relative newcomers to a field. It is unclear how much of this is due to simple enthusiasm or a desire to stand out, but all such efforts are best met with counsel before encouragement. The field needs leaders, and the next generation of leaders, but this requires keeping those with potential both healthy and engaged. This may come down to mindset—finding what is most important and appropriate to pursue as part of personal growth. 

Leaders who want to establish themselves are best served by ensuring that they have the best understanding, skill, and experience within the realm of what they will need to do rather than pushing the envelope for increased fame. Chasing records by sacrificing safety margins and/or ignoring compromised states of affairs is not compatible with accepted best practice. Those looking up to leaders for inspiration may not fully appreciate the issues and concerns, but the best leaders will be conscious of the total impact their efforts can have on others. 

Karen van den Oever after she dived to a depth of 246.65 m/809 ft in Bushmansgat cave, South Africa, representing the women’s world record deep cave dive. 

Bragging about exceptional or record exploits is problematic in that it can encourage others who may be inadequately prepared to follow suit. It may be a hard reality for the keen, hungry, and superbly confident instructor to accept, but they can provide a much better service to their students by encouraging them to stay within the accepted realm of operational safety. This is often most effectively demonstrated through example. The goal should be to promote a long and healthy diving life, effectively achieved by solid training and an instilled appreciation for the value of robust safety buffers and a constant revisiting of “what if” preparation. 

We should recognize the meaningful efforts in the community, but without losing sight of the implications of such endeavors. Promotion of a positive safety culture requires questioning whether things should be done, and how things that should be done can be done with appropriate safety margins. If meaningful efforts result in record achievements they should be applauded, but always with an appropriate framing of any associated value, limitations, hazards, and implications.

Reporting the exceptional is important, but a high priority should also be put on recognizing activities and efforts that are unexceptional in outcome due to appropriate preparation and execution within safe boundaries. Efforts to improve training, awareness, and operational safety must always be promoted. Safety programming is challenging since, when it is effective…, nothing happens. Ongoing commitment is required to ensure that it continues to be effective. 

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I would posit that the best record attempts are those pursued without fanfare, moving quietly from concept through to safe workup stages and then safe completion. The reporting of record efforts should always consider the value and relevance of the activity. Achievements that violate the criteria for safe performance should be neither encouraged nor glorified. 

We live in a time when the pursuit and promotion of records can be expected to continue, but appropriate framing can help to ensure that the community benefits from a sustained focus on safety and thoughtfulness.

See Companion Story: I Trained Doc Deep by Jon Kieran

Dive Deeper

InDEPTH: Fact or Fiction? Revisiting Guinness World Record Deepest Scuba Dive by Michael Menduno

InDEPTH: Karen van den Oever Continues to Push the Depth at Bushmansgat: Her New Record—246m by Nuno Gomes

InDEPTH: South African Cave Diver Karen van den Oever Sets New Women’s Deep Cave Diving Record by Nuno Gomes

InDEPTH: Opinion: Don’t Break That Record by Dimitris Fifis

InDEPTH: Diving Beyond 250 Meters: The Deepest Cave Dives Today Compared to the Nineties by Michael Menduno and Nuno Gomes

InDEPTH: Extending The Envelope Revisited: The 30 Deepest Tech Shipwreck Dives by Michael Menduno

InDEPTH:  High Pressure Problems on Über-Deep Dives: Dealing with HPNS by Reilly Fogarty


Neal Pollock holds a Research Chair in Hyperbaric and Diving Medicine and is an Associate Professor in Kinesiology at Université Laval in Québec, Canada. He was previously Research Director at Divers Alert Network (DAN) in Durham, North Carolina. His academic training is in zoology, exercise physiology, and environmental physiology. His research interests focus on human health and safety in extreme environments.

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