Paul Heinerth: Cave Diving Legend

Posted on February 18th 2014

EVERY once in a while, you get to interview a sporting legend whose inspiration is felt through the generations. If football has Pele and tennis has Boris Becker, then cave diving has Paul Heinerth.

I'm sure he would be too modest to accept such pedestal-placing, but one only has to look at his list of achievements listed on his website to see why he is so widely regarded by cave divers

"Paul Heinerth is a pioneer in diver education, in both open water and overhead environments ... Paul has been instructing for the National Association of Cave Divers (NACD) and the National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section (NSS-CDS) for over 34 years ... He has held world records for deep cave penetration and is credited with many cave discoveries ... Paul is a member of the United States Deep Caving Team and participates in significant expeditions that explore and survey the uncharted reaches of our world ... His work has been covered by National Geographic in Florida, Mexico, Bahamas and Antarctica."

As part of researching the history of cave diving for the book, I had chance to speak with Paul for a number of hours earlier this week. He was full of rousing tales of the early days of caving in Florida, when the handful of practitioners made their own equipment and ventured into the unknown; of the excitement of exploration; and of the tragedy of losing one's friends.

We covered a fair few topics during our interview, much of which has helped shape the project. Without people like him willing to spend their time reminiscing the idea for the book would lack the engines to get it off the ground. 

While I don't want to give away the details of our conversation just - it will ruin the story to come - I'll drop some stories in the coming weeks as the book nears completion. In the meantime, I thought I would share the below video which visually captures the inspiration of cave diving in the same way Paul does with words.  

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