Wonders Underwater: Sharks, Shipwrecks and a 93-Year-Old Man
When Norman Lancefield purchased himself some scuba gear in 1970, he didn’t know he would be using it until 2013. In 2011 Scuba Diving Experience being the world’s oldest scuba diver.
“Diving isn’t a dangerous sport,” wrote Lancefield, who was 91-years-old at the time. “It is a hazardous sport and my goal is to avoid the hazards.”
Lancefield wrote that he would have a friend help him get into the water at first, but after that he was on his own.
“I have swum with sharks and dolphins, but at my age you don’t need obvious excitement,” he wrote. “Even a hermit crab can be thrilling – they’re funny creatures, living in second-hand seashells.”
Sharks are the least of a diver’s worries. There are plenty of potential risks involved with the sport, including decompression sickness (“the bends”), nitrogen narcosis and pulmonary embolisms. Lancefield wrote about the one and only time he had been scared while on a dive.
“My mask flooded completely – I had placed part of the seal atop my hood,” he wrote. “I lit my torch, spun wildly in a circle and realized I had lost my buddy.” Lancefield returned to the surface with haste, only to find his friend already in the boat waiting for him.
When the weather was still unfavorably cold, Lancefield would practice his diving skills and test his gear at a local pool in his hometown of Wales in Great Britain. “I’d rather find problems when I am only six feet deep,” he wrote.
Lancefield’s favorite dive location was the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, between Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. War-rattled shipwrecks, ruins of ancient civilizations and hordes of dolphins and dugongs all make the Gulf of Aqaba one of the most popular diving destinations in the world.
“It’s another world down there and I feel privileged to be able to see it,” Lancefield told a Wales Online in August of 2011. The best part of all this? Lancefield only began diving in his 50s after wanting to take his snorkeling hobby to the next level. He was a member of the same aqua club for over 30 years.
“Scuba diving is accessible to all ages and Norman is proof that age is no barrier when you’re doing something you enjoy,” said Mary Tetley, chief executive of the aqua club Lancefield belonged to.