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Diving centres seeking to cater for increase in disabled divers

Slava, paralysed from the neck down, preparing for a dive in Limassol with Freedom Divers

By Bejay Browne

A local dive company promoting disabled diving in Cyprus has started a crowd funding page to raise the thousands needed to purchase new specialist equipment, including a hoist and trailer.

Sean Flynn, of Freedom Divers, is a professional diver and a qualified disabled diving instructor and told the Sunday Mail that the number of enquiries from disabled customers has doubled in 2018.

He is determined to raise the funds needed to purchase further specialist equipment to help disabled scuba divers experience the water in Cyprus.

Sean said that a hoist, trailer and other equipment will cost around 29,000 euros altogether and it’s a necessary investment as he believes that Cyprus has the potential to become a preferred choice with disabled divers from around the globe.

“It might not sound like a lot but we have 12 disabled divers this year and many more enquiries for next year, as it takes longer to plan holidays and to ensure their needs are covered,” he said.

A portable pop up changing room, a beach wheelchair, a pro lift sling and an underwater scooter are all on the list of items needed.

Sean has already spent around eight to nine thousand euros on equipment, but would ideally next like to purchase a mobile pool hoist that would enable him to get would-be divers in and out of swimming pools at holiday homes and hotels. Pool training is what every diver must go through before heading out into the sea, he said.

“I just can’t afford to buy anymore equipment and I would really like to be able to help them,” he said.

Although a number of hotels have hoists, these are just a few, and they are permanent fixtures, unable to be move, he said.

“These hoists cost around ten thousand euros, but they are very useful in getting people in and out of the water safely and comfortably.”

Sean said that most people are able to dive, no matter what their disability is, and although most other dive centres in Cyprus that take disabled people charge them more as the costs are higher, he doesn’t.  His aim is to help divers feel the freedom of weightlessness in the water.

“For us, It’s not about the money. I only cover my costs on dives with disabled people and that’s not why I do it. To see the joy on their face and to be able to give them an experience that they never thought was possible is a really amazing feeling. It gives them such pleasure,” he said.

On such dives, Sean employers a minimum of a second experienced diver, and in some cases this will be more, to ensure the safety of the disabled diver, this pushes up the costs, he said, but these are not passed onto his customers.

Sean is a fully qualified PADI instructor (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and also as a disabled diving instructor with DDI – Disabled Divers International. He recently took a Russian diver into the water to dive in Limassol using a new ‘Seatrac’ motorised ramp which has been installed at a beach there.

“We used the motorised ramp to take Slava into the sea, it was a pity it broke down when we tried to get him out of the water but we had a plan B just in case, so it was fine.”

He explained that the young Russian holiday maker broke his neck cliff diving a few years previously and was left paralysed from the neck down.

“As he had some experience free diving his breathing was excellent, he was calm and it was great to see him happy.”

Sean noted that many of the disabled divers he has been coaching recently from all over the world have been left disabled after cliff diving.

He said that Cyprus is a perfect place for disabled divers, as the climate is good and there are numerous dive sites.

As and more and more disabled people are making enquiries, Sean said that other dive centres have offered their services, helping with tanks, equipment and staff if Freedom Divers need assistance, he said.

“PD diving in Limassol have been in touch and have been particularly kind and we will be meeting up with them soon,” he said.

For further information: (00 357) 97697383

Email: [email protected]

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