We’ve teamed up with Seiko, who make the Prospex PADI Special Edition Kinetic Dive Watch to look at the challenges faced by divers, and why accurate timekeeping is essential in the most extreme underwater environments. Here Craig Mainprize, a Master Dive Instructor and a former mountaineer, talks about the skills needed to survive at the world’s highest altitudes and deepest depths.
Picture the scene. You’re diving in the icy waters off the UK coast, 35 metres down and several minutes away from the safety of the surface, when your breathing apparatus fails. You reach for your backup, only to find that it’s not working either. Many people would panic, but not Craig Mainprize. “It was, um… quite challenging” he says, describing the incident with masterful understatement.
“It was quite challenging. If you come up too quick from that sort of depth, then you’ll be dead”
Without any air, every fibre of Craig’s body was screaming at him to swim for the surface, but his training told him that “if you come up too quick from that sort of depth, then you’ll be dead.” Ignoring his instincts, Craig forced himself to stay underwater and come up slowly, in order to avoid the deadly build of of nitrogen which leads to the bends.
“You’ve got to think of the logic behind it all,” he explains. “Your body doesn’t need the oxygen because otherwise CPR wouldn’t work. So I knew I had enough oxygen in there, it’s just the level of carbon dioxide which is making my body convulse to want to breathe. So… get over it. Breathe out as you come up, and come up in a controlled manner.”