IT WAS JUST ANOTHER LEISURE CENTRE swimming pool. It could have been anywhere, but this one was in an inner London borough and had clearly seen better decades. The tiles were cracked and the décor was five years overdue for a revamp. But tonight was a little different.
Ten sets of kit were neatly stowed at the poolside waiting for anyone with a towel, a £10 note and a desire to see at short distance (and with great clarity) the detritus that collects in the bottom of a council-run pool.
All the usual suspects were there. A sprinkling of 10-year-old boys desperately claiming to be 12, all clutching forged letters from an alleged parent. Even more desperate middle-aged men muttering about Hans and Lotte Hass, and how the kids were grown up now and they had always wanted to do it...
And, as ever, there were a couple of those people who were clearly the remnants of a failed care in the community programme, and who you really wouldnt want to be with at 30m on a bad day off Plymouth.
But there were always a few people who you just knew were different. David was one of them. Slightly built and very interested, he took to the equipment as if hed been diving for years.
Confident but not cocky, he listened intently and, after the session, signed up immediately for the full course. He paid all his dues in cash because he had just moved into the area and wanted to get straight into diving.
The Diving Officer, John, asked the obligatory question as he handed over the receipt: What makes you want to train to be a diver
I dont know, said Dave. Theres just something about it I find I cant resist.

hspace=5 ALL THE INSTRUCTORS IN THE CLUB JUMPED at the chance of taking Dave, because they knew how easy that particular skills session would be.
He progressed rapidly through the pool sessions and fared just as well in the open-water dives, despite the cold water and the semi-dry suit.
He quickly bought some secondhand equipment, and it was as if he had dived for years. He signed up for all the trips, and rapidly became a stalwart of the club scene.
After a few months, at the end of the season, the club organised a trip to Portland as a final outing to the sea. This would be the last trip before winter and those interminable dives in cold quarries where, after a time, you began to know the fish by name.
The DO paired up with Dave for a dive on a popular World War Two wreck, and looked forward to a relaxing dive with no challenges before the winter training programme started.
A little way out from the harbour, the pair rolled off the RIB and followed the snaking polypropylene rope to the start of the wreck.
All went well for the first 20 minutes, as they followed the dive plan they had arranged in the bar the night before. But at the agreed turnaround time, Dave suddenly disappeared through a hatch in the side of the crumbling battleship.
John waited around for a couple of minutes, thinking that Dave might have been overcome
by the lure of penetrating a huge wreck at such a shallow depth. After five minutes had passed he became really concerned, and entered the wreck himself.
He reasoned that Dave may have become disorientated and simply needed a reassuring sweep of a dive light to locate the way out.
But after several sweeps there was no response. The wreck was known to be collapsing in on itself, and John was now certain that Dave was trapped somewhere inside it.
Looking at his own gauges, he realised that Dave, as a frightened novice, would be running down his air supply.
John moved slowly into the compartment, being careful to swim above the fine silt to avoid reducing the vis to the point at which he could no longer help his friend.
Suddenly, he felt a weight drop onto him from the top of the compartment. Something was pushing him down to the silt and detritus at the bottom of what, 80 years before, had been the ceiling of a mess deck.

THE VIS DROPPED SUDDENLY TO ZERO as John tried to understand what was happening. As he flailed around, his air supply failed. In panic, he groped for his pony regulator.
He felt the reassuring shape of the second stage, but his wrist was gripped as he tried to deploy it from its clip. John squirmed around, desperate for air and panicked by what was happening.
He turned to see Dave, his eyes gleaming in the milky water, forcing him down towards the floor.
As he drowned in the silt, locked in an iron grip, the last things he saw were Daves eyes staring demonically and triumphantly.
After a few minutes, Dave turned the air supply back on and, pressing the purge valve, released all the air from Johns primary cylinder.
He carefully turned off the supply from the pony cylinder and left Johns body turning softly in the tide.
Dave surfaced alone and waved the boat over, screaming that he had lost his buddy.
The next buddy pair searched for the DO and found him, drowned, where Dave had said he had entered the wreck. Dave was distraught, and could not be comforted by his friends in the club.

THE CORONERS COURT WAS BRIEF in its enquiries, and Dave was exonerated. The experienced diver had left a comparative beginner to penetrate a wreck, and had run into difficulties that led to his death.
All sympathy was with Dave - especially when he told the club that he was giving up diving and leaving the club and the area to start a new life.
He wanted to try to forget his terrible experience at Portland.

IT WAS JUST ANOTHER LEISURE CENTRE swimming pool. It could have been anywhere, but this one was in a northern metropolitan borough and had clearly seen better decades.
The tiles were cracked and the décor was five years overdue for a revamp. But tonight was a little different - it was the local BSAC try-dive night.
The DO smiled as he counted the money the aspiring diver handed to him in full payment for his membership fee.
What makes you want to train to be a diver he asked.
I dont know, said John. Theres just something about it I find I can't resist.