Tomorrow is the SCUBA Challenge, where disabled and able-bodied divers will complete 64 lengths in the pool – fully kitted up – and 2 open water dives to raise money for Disability Day.

Organised by Dave Thompson, who sustained a spinal cord injury whilst playing American Football and has since been a full time wheelchair user with limited use in his left arm and none in his right arm or legs. As well as able-bodied divers, Dave is joined in this year’s challenge by three other disabled divers: two have spinal cord injuries and one has had a quadruple heart bypass. Proving the scuba diving is a fully inclusive hobby.

They are raising money to support the world’s largest ‘not for profit’ voluntary-led disability exhibition. If you would like to join Dave and the team, please email Dave on Alternatively you can donate at

One of the divers is 22 year old ex-serviceman Tom Coleridge, a full time wheelchair user since being shot in Afghanistan in 2010. Tom’s injury left him paralysed from the waist.

The SCUBA Challenge day will start with an 18 m morning dive at Capenwray Quarry in Lancashire, followed by an afternoon 18 m dive at Eccleston Delph and finally late afternoon 64 lengths of the swimming pool at Woolston Leisure Centre, Warrington (UK).

Dave told us how he felt on a previous year’s challenge (and that one didn’t include an open water dives).

“For me it was a slow, slow and even slower pace. After ten lengths I felt a deep pain in my one good shoulder which was probably due to the weeks of training. I managed to stop a few time (under water) whilst John my dive buddy for the day adjusted my weights. But once into a rhythm the next thirty lengths flew by, and at forty five lengths John signalled that I should change my tank as I was low on air, I must admit that I was so knackered, I hadn’t noticed. As I surfaced briefly, my wife Pam handed me a drink, but just reaching for the bottle was excruciatingly painful. The stretching hadn’t done me much good; in fact my single arm long stroke was now reduced to a very small flicker type movement, but it kept me going between several rests lying on the bottom. At one stage I just wanted to close my eyes and go to sleep, thinking that I might wake up and it would be over.

But eventually John counted down the last few lengths from ten, and then somehow I saw one finger. This was it just one to go. One final push to the finish and as I surfaced everyone was standing around the pool cheering and clapping. As I hung onto the edge of the pool I remember seeing Simon’s face with a huge smile, and then Graham grabbed hold of my tank just as I was sliding back into the water. I remember looking around and feeling a huge sense of physical achievement, a sense that I hadn’t felt for twenty two years. One of the highlights of the day was swimming the last length with my son Gavin who was attempting a try dive. Ironically I finished at the opposite end to the pool hoist and had to swim back to get out. But on the way back John handed me a stud earring that had glistened at me each time I swam past it. It’s strange how something so small became a focus even though I was totally exhausted. My spirits were lifted as one by one everyone came forward as I handed out their certificates.”

scuba challenge for disability day
To donate, join in or find out more go to or contact Dave on


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