Warning about dangers of diving in pool and sea

Graham Danster in his wheelchair after his diving accident.

Graham Danster, 27, enjoyed soccer and playing with his 3-year-old son until a diving accident earlier this year put him in a wheelchair.

Groote Schuur Hospital warns that diving accidents become more likely at this time of year, when the warmer weather and festive-season celebrations see people throwing caution to the wind around pools and in the sea.

Hospital spokesperson Alaric Jacobs says they have already referred two patients to the acute spinal cord injury (ASCI) unit this month for diving accidents.

“ASCI unit staff have advised members of the public to exercise caution when diving this festive season with the theme, ‘the only safe dive is the one you never take’,” he said.

Mr Danster, 27, became a complete quadriplegic after diving into a swimming pool in February.

“I was at a house party with the neighbours. They have a pool, and I decided to take a dive, and the pool was not deep enough, and I sustained spinal-cord injuries as a result of the dive.”

He ended up in Groote Schuur for two months.

According to the ASCI unit’s Dr Leonie Delport, the profile of a typical diving patient is a young healthy male in the prime of their life between the ages of 17 to 30.

Ninety percent of their diving injury patients were male, she said.

“The peak season for diving accidents is summer from December to February. The most common place of injury is the ocean and the swimming pool.”

Even in the ocean, people could be prone to diving injuries as water could be deceptive.

Alcohol and egos – with men trying to impress women with a good dive – were also frequently involved, she said.

According to her there are several things you should do both to prevent dive-related injuries and to help someone you suspect of having one:

  • Be proactive, educate yourself and others about the dangers of diving into shallow water.
  • Be proactive, educate yourself and others about the dangers of diving into shallow water.
  • Be proactive, educate yourself and others about the dangers of diving into shallow water.
  • Be proactive, educate yourself and others about the dangers of diving into shallow water.

Mr Danster said he was grateful to hospital staff and his family for all the care he had received.

“My plea is that everyone must be careful before diving during this festive season.”

He added: “One single dive can alter your life forever, leading to permanent physical, financial and emotional challenges, and this is an injury that is 100% preventable.”