A diver who was left paralysed from the waist down after a motorcycle accident has gone from new trainee to BSAC Open Water Instructor (OWI) in just four years.

Dan Metcalfe, 35, known by his friends as ‘WheelsDan’, achieved his OWI status over the summer, and is now teaching within his branch, Bingham Sub-Aqua Club. Dan’s OWI mentor, Adrian Collier, said he was a huge asset to the club:

Dan has had to overcome many barriers and he won’t accept no. If he has been unable to teach an element due to disability, then he has simply found an alternative way to do it. His drive is contagious and it has been great fun working with him!

Dan joined Bingham in 2019, as part of his emotional recovery from the trauma of the motorbike accident. However, he was just a few months into his Ocean Diver training when he was involved in a second crash, this time while on a 600-mile charity handcycle ride he was struck by a car, leaving him with injuries to his neck and shoulder. Suffering from PTSD, Dan admits he was in a ‘dark place’ after the second crash. But two of his friends from Bingham – Helena Robertshaw and Paul Jarmin - rallied round and suggested he get back into the water. After completing his first open water dive at Stoney Cove, Dan realised that scuba was going to be part of his recovery, as he explains:

Diving just completely fixed my head and I came out happy, feeling like I’d accomplished something. The feeling lasted a couple of weeks, so we went diving again and I found that it had given me the passion to do something again. I was just as important as my buddy and it felt really good.

Dan Metcalfe, or 'WheelsDan'Dan quickly progressed through the BSAC diving grades, with a dive on Scapa Flow’s F2 his very first sea dive as a qualified Ocean Diver, and got more involved in his branch, including taking on the role of Kit Officer. And in September 2022, he completed three world record attempts for his disability category at Stoney Cove – fastest one mile scuba diving with and without a swimming band and greatest distance scuba diving, all in fresh open water. He has just had the exciting confirmation from the Guinness World Records that all three attempts have been successful. 

Meanwhile, as well as achieving his Open Water Instructor ticket, Dan was also part of the organising team for BSAC’s 70th anniversary River Thames Boat Run. Achieving his OWI status over the summer has just confirmed to Dan how much scuba diving means to him.

Before the crash, I was a builder, a kick boxer and cycled a lot, so was fit and active, but I was never this determined.
There is real therapy in diving – I am focused and free and it stops the noise of the world for a while. I can honestly say diving saved my life.

Dan is now focused on helping other people with disabilities to experience scuba the way he has. 

Scuba is also a great leveller; if there is no medical reason why you can’t dive, then you should. I thrive on what I achieve and how people respond to it as if I can do it, then someone else disabled can.



Want to find out more about the Diving for All programme? 

Discover Diving for All and the DfA instructor programme.

Diving for all programme

The BSAC DfA programme seeks to promote scuba diving to people with disabilities and provide divers, clubs and centres with the knowledge and skills to ensure that diving is safe for all BSAC members.

Read more

Website by NetXtra