A few years ago, I gave a presentation about the state of diving as a sport. My basic point was that diving was more accessible than it has ever been, and there should be droves of people learning to dive, yet diving is flat…at best.
The people who started the sport in the 50s were their own heroes. And the sport grew. From 1958 to 1961, (and for years afterward in syndication) we had Sea Hunt’s Mike Nelson to get people excited about diving. And the sport grew. From 1968 to 1975, we had The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau to get us excited about diving. I remember watching that show as a kid. I have no doubt it inspired my desire to travel, explore the world and to dive. And the sport grew.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a hero like that today. There is no modern diving hero.
In 2005, I wrote my first novel with that problem in mind. I wanted to make the diving real enough that my fellow divers would go, “Yep, I can do that!” but I also wanted to make it exciting for non-divers so they would think about diving. One of the best compliments I ever got on a novel was when a non-diver told me that she could feel herself underwater while reading one of my books. For the record, the most amusing negative review I got for my first novel was “The prose is tepid.” I doubt it would be possible to be more cliché than that. Still, I learned from writing that book and the stories that have come after it.
I know several people who are doing amazing things diving. They are traveling the world and exploring new destinations. I have good friends who run fantastic businesses teaching divers to dive. Rich Synowiec and Darcy Kieran come to mind. Rich teaches diving in Michigan and Darcy in Montreal. In spite of their locations, they both have large followings and lots of divers. There are many, many others. They all know how to make diving fun and cool. Another good friend, Greg Holt, has built a tremendous life for himself with the syndicated radio show—Scuba Radio. (You can check him out at Scubaradio.com.) There are also people doing incredible scientific work in the ocean.
I’ve just released a new diving adventure as a Kindle novella called “Sea Monster”. It is set in the Florida Keys. Tomorrow, I plan to release a new children’s book called “Swimming with Sharks” for 5-9 year old wanna-be divers and kids who love the ocean. Next month, I plan to release a new novel as well. Stay tuned and share these stories with your diving friends and the non-divers as well. Get them thinking about diving and then find a way to get them underwater.
So, while I’ll never be diving’s hero, I plan to keep writing stories that help divers think about diving when they’re forced to stay dry and help non-divers think to themselves “I want to do that!” I’m hopeful someday soon we will find a new hero that inspires the next generation of divers as well.
Maybe one of you out there should step up to be the next diving hero….