Preservación de la historia: Leslie Leaney

Torrance Parker le entrega a Leaney el premio HDS USA E.R. Cross Award.

LESLIE LEANEY ES CONOCIDO for his dive history research and preservation. He has done this work through organizations such as the Cayman Islands’ International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (where he has been the executive director for nearly 20 years), the Commercial Diving Hall of Fame, the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, the Historical Diving Society USA, and other educational organizations. Acquiring a circa 1850 copper and brass dive helmet handmade by the legendary Augustus Siebe stoked his interest in dive history more than four decades ago. Siebe is considered the father of diving and created the equipment that launched the trade internationally.

“There are about six or seven of these known to exist in the world,” he noted. “Mine is the only one that’s in its original condition.”

Además de coleccionar equipo de buceo histórico y antiguo, comenzó a compilar una extensa biblioteca de buceo. En 1992 Leaney se asoció con Skip Dunham para crear la Historical Diving Society USA (HDS USA). En las tres décadas desde su fundación, la organización sin fines de lucro HDS USA ha aumentado de algunas docenas de miembros a aproximadamente 3.000 en todo el mundo. También inició la revista Historical Diving Magazine, que hoy se conoce como The Journal of Diving History.

Leaney has received numerous awards, including DEMA’s Reaching Out Award (2016), the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences NOGI Award for Education (2003), Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year Award (2013), the Wyland Foundation ICON Award (2010), and most recently the 2022 California Scuba Service Award for “turning his passion for diving’s history into a way for thousands to understand and discover theirs.” In addition to the contributions he’s made to our knowledge of dive history, Leaney has also had a highly successful career in the music industry.

En muchos aspectos, sus logros en las industrias del buceo y la música están directamente vinculados a los desafíos que enfrentó cuando era un niño pequeño. Nació en Londres en 1947 y tuvo dificultades en su adolescencia.

“I grew up in the East End of London,” he said. “I didn’t have a great education. I left school when I was 15 and worked three jobs — I worked days and nights because money was so scarce. I was out on the streets and in a motorcycle gang. The future didn’t look particularly bright.”


To escape those circumstances, he joined the Royal Air Force in 1967, but it wasn’t military service that changed his life’s trajectory. It was scuba diving, which he tried at age 22 when he was posted to Singapore.

“In Singapore there were a lot of things to do that you wouldn’t normally get to do where I came from,” Leaney recalled. “The first thing I did was join a scuba club. As soon as I went underwater, it was a different world. It changed my life. Diving was a leveler. Underwater, I was the equal of anyone and better than most. I was really good at it.”

He always had a fascination for the creatures that lived underwater, which started with the ponds near his childhood home. “There was a forest where some of the German bombers would dump their bombs during World War II when they couldn’t find their targets,” Leaney said. “A lot of bomb holes turned into ponds. I was mesmerized by seeing things splash on the surface. You couldn’t see what they were, but they’d splash — newts, salamanders, frogs.

“I was fascinated by what was under the water. It really changed my life when I first started diving and saw marine life face-to-face.”

While in Singapore, he became a scuba instructor and dive officer through the British Sub-Aqua Club, the U.K.’s national governing body of recreational diving. He was responsible for the curriculum and training of dozens of instructors and recreational divers.

En la década de 1970, mucho antes de que la infraestructura del turismo de buceo se volviera algo corriente, Leaney dirigió docenas de expediciones de buceo a las Islas Perhentian en el mar de la China Meridional, el océano Índico y las Maldivas, y buceó en Australia y Nueva Zelanda.

During these years, King Hussein of Jordan asked him to explore if a dive center could be established in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, Jordan. “That’s a bottle-of-wine story,” he said. He was transported aboard the king’s boat to explore the Red Sea every day. “It was a pristine location with pristine sites.”

Leaney has approached his life as one of daring adventures. “I took a lot of risks,” he said. “I believed I could. If you believe you can, you can because you’re already halfway there.”


En 1980 Leaney se mudó a California, donde empezó a trabajar en la industria de la música y exploró las librerías locales para reunir libros de buceo.

“My interest in music started when I was very young,” he said. “I was inoculated with a jukebox needle. I was around when the Beatles started. When I came to America, I wanted to get involved in it. I knew I didn’t have the talent to get into a band, but the drive to be associated with music was so special to me. I started supporting what I call the ‘baby band circuit.’ I liked the challenge. Could I get a band signed to a major label to which I had no connection? I went out seven nights a week with these bands, trying to bump them up to where a band like the Pretenders was. I was driven in both music and diving to succeed.”

En la actualidad, Leaney está trabajando en la 112da edición de The Journal of Diving History’s 112. issue, which will go to subscribers in about 30 countries. “If you find something you like to do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I still live on the edge to some degree, but now I have safety nets, and DAN is a big one.” AD


Obtenga más información de Leslie Leaney en este video preparado para su premio DEMA Reaching Out Award en 2016.

Leslie Leaney

Ciudad natal:
Santa Maria, California

Age: 74

Cantidad de años de buceo: 53

Why I’m a DAN Member:
My friends have always had my back during my adventures. DAN has had that covered, along with my left, right, and front. I’ve always had DAN as a traveling companion.

Leaney está rodeado por cascos de buceo raros que van desde aproximadamente 1850 hasta la década de 1970, con su casco Augustus Siebe al frente.

Leaney observa tras presentar a los pioneros del buceo Jacques-Yves Cousteau y Hans Hass en la exposición de DEMA de 1997. dive pioneers Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Hans Hass at the 1997 DEMA Show.

Leaney exhibe algunos de sus premios RIAA por ventas nacionales de 34 millones de álbumes.

El actor Lloyd Bridges como Mike Nelson Sea Hunt (Investigador submarino) appeared on the cover of issue 68 of Leaney’s The Journal of Diving History.

He always had a fascination for the creatures that lived underwater …

© Alert Diver — Q3 2022

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