British cave divers are among the top practitioners and rescuers in the world ~ famously leading the team, for instance, which found and brought to safety the boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018. It may be hard to understand the impetus to explore subterranean caves with murky, underwater stretches. As one cave diver recently said, there are no accidents in cave diving, only fatalities.
However, the exhileration of being the first to see what is around the corner and the beauty of the caverns are what motivate these brave souls. In the UK, one of the first pioneers was Graham Balcombe (1907-2000), who helped set up the Cave Diving Group of Great Britain & N.Ireland in 1946. Another was Bob Leakey (1914-2013), who conquered his claustrophobia and aquaphobia with extraordinary courage. It was said of him that no-one wanted to be his diving ‘buddy’, but they would definitely want him in their rescue team!
Expert cave divers such as Martyn Farr (1951-) and Rick Stanton, MBE,GM (1961-) have propelled advancements in cave diving equipment. From barely being able to stand up in early rigs, it is now possible to explore deeper and further than ever before in modern wetsuits, with rebreathers and underwater scooters.
(Top image: pxhere.com / Public domain)