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Is 91-year-old Norman Lancefield the UK’s oldest scuba diver?

Grandfather-of-two Norman is still taking the plunge at the age of 91

Could this be the UK’s oldest scuba diver? Norman Lancefield is still taking the plunge at the age of 91 and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

Grandfather-of-two Norman, from the Vale of Glamorgan, is an active member of the Barry branch of the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) and still regularly dives to a depth of 10 metres.

He took up the sport at the relatively late age of 58 when he tried some snorkelling on holiday in Spain. On his return decided he would like to improve his new skill.

“In those days, the BSAC ran a night class at Bryn Hafren school in Barry and I thought I might be able to practice my snorkelling,” he said.

“I didn’t go there to dive, but before I knew it they had put a tank on my back. I have been diving ever since.”

Normanhas been a member of his dive club for more than 30 years and still attends training sessions at the same school every week.

His diving career has taken him all over the world including Mexico, Malta, Turkey, and several times to the Red Sea.

He said: “It’s another world down there and I feel privileged to be able to see it. I don’t go much on wrecks and things but I do love to see the seaweed, and when I did my most recent dive there was such a variety of seaweed; some small, some big. It is a beautiful part of nature.”

He watches for other sea life too, and recalls a special moment during a dive off the Gower coast.

“I was following my buddy closely  and I saw what I thought was a stone; and I thought, ‘No, that’s not a stone’ – and would you believe it, it was an octopus,” he said.

“I grabbed my buddy by the ankle and showed him, and we thought, ‘Can you believe it; seeing an octopus in Wales!’ That has always stuck in my mind.”

Norman puts his good health and longevity down to genetics

Russ Phillips, training officer at Barry Sub-Aqua Club, said Norman was a remarkable diver and continued to surpass even some of the younger members of the club.

Russ said: “We have children as young as eight who learn to snorkel and then go on to learn to dive with us and Norman is a terrific inspiration to them. He is a very positive person and a great character. We are lucky to have him in our club – he must be the oldest active scuba diver in theUK.

“Many people say they would be happy to live to his age and still be so fit, let alone diving at 91.”

Diving isn’t Norman’s only unusual hobby, however. The retired mechanical engineer is also a former bee-keeper.

He believes the secret to his good health and good diving lies in his family’s genes.

“My mother’s father worked as a saddler until he was 80 and would walk 17 miles to come and see us,” he said. That will give you some idea.”

Norman also believes diving has helped keep his lungs in good condition and urges youngsters to consider taking up the sport.

He said: “You don’t need to be an Olympic swimmer. I have never been a fast swimmer but I can swim for hours if needed.

“Diving gives you so much more than just swimming. You can go and explore somewhere completely new every time. Like I said, it is another world down there.”


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