Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Divers aged 50 and over urged to shape up for UK water

Kim Langridge
Image caption Kim Langridge said that maintaining fitness is important for divers

A professional dive instructor on the Isle of Wight says older divers need to ensure they are fit enough for the sport, after a report showed they faced an increased risk.

Kim Langridge is a 58-year-old member of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

He manages to dive all year round but said after the winter, people needed to focus on getting their fitness levels up.

Figures from the British Sub Aqua Club indicate that over 50s are over-represented in their yearly fatality reports.

Mr Langridge said: "It's probably a number of factors, one is divers' fitness, particularly as we get a little bit older.


He added: "There is a lot of equipment both to keep us warm and that we use for the diving and it's not uncommon to see people of all ages getting physically tired and stressed before they are even in the water.

"Now obviously if you are older and your fitness level isn't what it could be then this is starting to predispose you towards an incident."

Figures for 2011 show older divers are almost five times more likely to be involved in fatal incidents than divers who are younger.

There were 11 diving deaths last year and eight of those were people over 50, which means they make up 73% of the total deaths.

But a previous study indicated the over 50s only represented 16% of the diving population.

Jane Maddocks, 64, from Gosport is a member of the British Sub Aqua Club.

She said: "Speaking from a personal point of view, I know that now I am much more conscious of having to do more exercise to keep my fitness level up to speed because I know I'm not as fit as I was when I was a 30-year-old. But it doesn't mean that I can't be fit enough to dive.

"A few years ago to be diving at 50 was quite extraordinary.

"Now we've got divers that are diving in their 60s, 70s, 80s, I believe there is one diver in his 90s, so all power to their elbow, let's carry on diving for as long as we can."

'Quite shocking'

A spokesman from the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) said diver age did seem to be emerging as a factor in the number of fatalities, but that actual numbers of deaths were very small.

Image caption Diving in UK waters is very different from the excellent visibility in places like Barbados

He said as a result it was difficult to say that fitness was part of the problem.

Some of those that died in recent years had been classed as "very fit", he said

Mr Langridge, who owns Island Divers on the Isle of Wight, said it was still a good idea for older divers to get in shape before they took to the water.

He added: "Getting back into the pool and actually having some practice sessions is an excellent idea.

"Getting familiar with the equipment again, practising some skills and then starting off with some offshore dives.

"Diving in the UK is particularly challenging because of our conditions.

"The common factor is, maybe after a break, people do a couple of dives on holiday in the Red Sea or the Maldives, they come back buy the kit thinking, that's it I can get back into this, and they go from 30 metres visibility in warm water to maybe two metres in cold water and that can actually be quite shocking."

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