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Through the eyes of a legend - interview with Tom Mount, founder of IANTD

Everyone who is at least a little bit interested in technical diving, perfectly knows the figure which is Tom Mount. One of the founders of the IANTD organisation, a precursor and the true father of modern diving. Therefore, we are all the more pleased that during the Baltictech conference Tom Mount found a moment and
Published: May 2, 2011 - 14:46
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:15
Through the eyes of a legend – interview with Tom Mount, founder of IANTD

Everyone who is at least a little bit interested in technical diving, perfectly knows the figure which is Tom Mount. One of the founders of the IANTD organisation, a precursor and the true father of modern diving.

Therefore, we are all the more pleased that during the Baltictech conference Tom Mount found a moment and agreed to talk to us. In the following short interview we tried to introduce a little bit more about the organisation, which he still forms today, the way it operates, the history of its foundation and the goals and ideas it pursues. You will also find out what Tom thinks about the Polish diving scene…

Adam: What was diving like back in the day when you started taking your first steps in teaching?

Tom: When I first started diving in 1958, we didn’t have pressure gauges or jackets, so we had to know our gas consumption very well. We started teaching certain techniques and procedures to keep people alive. Everything revolved around wreck diving and cave diving, so we invented techniques for those types of dives.

A: Many people in Poland consider you as a pioneer when it comes to teaching and diving education. Tell us, how did you come up with the idea of introducing training in diving?

T: I first dived in the army, where I became very interested in cave and deep diving. Continuous diving allowed me to be in the right place at the right time. Then we started to develop the first training programmes as accidents occurred.

A: How did your adventure with IANTD start? Were you previously a member of any other diving organizations?

T: One of the earlier “organizations” that I belonged to was a group of 40 cave divers, which is where it started. Then, in 1968, we formed the National Association For Cave Diving, then in 1985 Dick Rutkowski finished his term at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and formed IAND, which was first a nitrox diving training organization, but only for recreational diving. Then I joined and we created IANTD and then added the “T” as referring to technical diving. We then created the first trimix programme and introduced wreck diving.

A: What do you think made the IANTD project work?

T: We have certainly been very lucky. We duplicated the training so that there were different levels of training, which involved gaining more and more skills and experience. This was our response to the growing demand. Today we already know that to do specific dives, we need to learn specific techniques and have the right training.

A: Tom, how did rebreather training in IANTD get to such a high standard?

T: We started closed circuit training in 1994, when at that time, outside the military, there wasn’t a lot of such equipment available. But then CCR units became popular and our programmes proved to be effective in making them safer to use.

A: How do you operate as an organisation? What are your priorities?

T: We are always developing specific programmes. By doing so, we want to increase diving safety. In IANTD we have many members all over the world and every year we consult together on training standards so that we can further improve our programmes and our manuals. This is a great passion for me. I dive for fun and I dive to increase the safety of those who want to learn to dive.

A: The premise of IANTD from the very beginning was to increase safety in diving. However, a lot has changed since the organisation was founded, including the emergence of a lot of competition, which has resulted in the significant commercialisation of diving. How does IANTD respond to such trends?

T: Yes, as I said, IANTD members have a common goal – we want to make diving safer and we want people to dive. Commercial of course does not mean safe, but instructors also have to make a living from something. As an organisation we give the materials and certification and the rest is in the hands of the person teaching. We are constantly increasing the structure of instructors because the demand is increasing. When you look at the interest in diving 50 years ago and compare it to the current situation, there is clearly an increase. Therefore it is clear that more instructors are needed.

A: What do you think about Poland and our diving activities?

T: I have never been to Poland before. As IANTD we do training here, so I have heard a lot about your divers and the projects that are going on here. So far, all the people from Poland that I have had the pleasure to meet have been very strongly involved in diving. They have definite priorities and are developing strongly. I think you have a great diving community.

A: Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you all the best.

T: Thank you.

Tom Mount was interviewed by Adam Sieczkowski.

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Adam
Adam Sieczkowski instruktor nurkowania podróżnik z zamiłowania, wiecznie poszukuje nowych wyzwań.
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