Finding our fins Kieran Hatton - Technical Diving Instructor and owner of Diving In Depth

Thanks to Kieran, from Diving in Depth, for writing this blog for us and coming to see us at Aquamarine Medicals for his HSE Diving Medical. A little bit about Kieran: Kieran is a professional technical diving instructor, with a particular interest in wreck diving and the stories that accompany those wrecks. Kieran has a focus on teaching closed circuit rebreathers (CCR) and open circuit (OC) technical courses, as well as leading trips and expeditions to locations throughout the world. We hope you enjoy this blog and 'find your fins, and find some positives post Covid-19'.

Working as a professional diver but also diving recreationally as my hobby it was gutting (on a personal level) to have what we love put out of reach. As divers we spent last spring looking at gorgeous sunshine, flat seas and stunning visibility, literally itching to get back out there. But that is behind us now, so how can we move forward and be ready for the next epic adventure?


May 2020 saw the UK emerge from what we now know as ‘lockdown #1’, diving was a bit behind most recreational activities, maybe fear at the top, or the slow dated hierarchy of the diving world being reluctant (again) to move forward. Diving wise we had lost the first 2 bank holidays of the season through the national restrictions and the 3rd through diving’s slow emergence. So as divers we can easily sit and lay blame as to why the season was slow to start.

In my world, where my teaching and trips tend to be based in the technical realm (not that I do not love a bimble with a single cylinder…breaking out of lockdown in Bovi harbour was brilliant!). Even when we were allowed out diving was slow and lethargic to get going. I found myself on the telephone practically pleading with people to come on trips they were booked on and were looking forward to.

English Channel

Whilst this was tough at the time, to gain from it and move forward, I think it is necessary to evaluate why divers were reluctant to get going when the opportunity presented itself.

Aquila Jellyfish

Clearly lockdown has affected many people in many ways, psychologically, financially or health wise. As a collective group it would be difficult to single out how we can help people overcome individual psychological issues (though as a social recreational activity I’m sure there is masses of good to be done), the financial strains of the pandemic are a complex issue worthy of their own chapter and verse

What we can try to explore though is people’s health concerns and their reluctance to return to the water.

It should be clearly stated that I am a diving instructor, not a medical professional or virologist! These are my thoughts, opinions, and musings. And I reserve the right to change them.

Photo: Croatia, Kalliopi telegraph face

As we are all very aware now, ‘Rona’ (let’s keep in informal) can have severe effects to the respiratory system. As divers though I think we need to look at this in context. If we had been severely unwell with Covid, hospitalised, having required supplementary oxygen then diving is unlikely to be on our immediate horizon. This sort of case would not fit into any sort of grey area.

Photo: Truk lagoon, Nippo Maru gun mounts

Where the concerns with diving could potentially lay is in those that have been unwell with mild symptoms, those that were positive with no symptoms and those that are concerned they may have been positive but asymptomatic. How do we address the fears of this group? As an industry we would hope divers are going to be rushing to grab their fins and race to the coast when we are released from what is now ‘lockdown #3’.

Photo: Seiko Maru gallery

Post ‘Rona #1’, one of the main reasons cited by the ‘powers that be’ for the slow return to diving were potential complications whilst diving following an asymptomatic infection. As a professional diver this was a worrying stance. Without a significant study into the effects of asymptomatic infection in divers, the prospects for diving were not good. 2 weeks, and a U-turn later, diving was on again.

Now while it has been quite cathartic writing this, what would really be of more benefit is how can we let Rona move us in a potentially better direction?

As far as studying the effects of asymptomatic cases in divers, if you are still reading this then there is a chance that you are part of that study. The likelihood of any professional research being undertaken on what is such a small % of people in this time frame is unlikely. Though the likes of DAN may (one would assume) collate accident data to see if there are any correlations between those and the effects of the Rona.

Photo: Notung, bridge gear

Maybe, rather than focussing on Rona we should look at our general fitness. You do not need to be a member of SAGE to look around the average group of divers to see that this is not an activity that attracts athletes. As professional divers we need to have a medical every year, like it or not this plots our BMI, lung function and general fitness year on year (having many years of these is not necessarily a pleasing sight). For divers out there that are concerned about resuming diving during, and after the Cov-19 pandemic I believe there could be a lot of positives to come out of an in-depth diving medical.

The tests taken will likely highlight any potential breathing problems/chest complications that could pose a problem whilst diving and may be the legacy of a positive Rona test, an asymptomatic event or something altogether unrelated.

The tangible upside might be that it gets more divers moving more which can only be good for divers and diving. So, grab your bike, boots or trainers and get moving, chances are it will help on a multitude of fronts.

Photo: Heian Maru telegraph


Kieran Hatton