One man, two accidents, three world record attempts
When Dan Metcalfe had not one, but two accidents that left him paralysed (T8-T10 complete), his attention turned to scuba diving and breaking world records.
Meet the man behind this extraordinary story.
In 2014 I was in a motorbike accident. I came off my bike after slipping on gravel. While I was laid on the road my friend hit me with his bike and I knew straight away that I was paralysed. I was 26 at the time. I was airlifted to hospital by the amazing MAGPAS air ambulance who saved my life.
SIA had some incredible mentors at the hospital and they helped guide me through my journey of living with my new paralysed body. After some considerable time in rehab and getting myself fitter, I was training with British Cycling and being tested to hopefully join the Olympic Team.
In 2018, when out on a 600-mile charity bike ride, I had my second crash. A car that tried to overtake me collided with a lorry then hit me. I was left with a compression in my neck at C4 and a loss of about 40% power in my left shoulder. This second accident ended my racing career, at 30 years old.
Before I was paralysed, I enjoyed all types of sport, so it was no surprise that following my first accident I chose fitness as a focus to keep my life on track. I continued cycling by use of a handcycle and reached 5th ranking in the UK. I also tried many different new sports – fencing, archery, shooting, tennis. I qualified as a gym instructor and Level 3 disability instructor and set up a local fitness club for disabled people and their partners.
I only started scuba diving just before my second accident. I had some real difficulties with my mental health and PTSD after my second crash and my newfound friends at the Bingham Sub Aqua Club saw that I needed help and got me in the water. I found scuba diving really calming for my mind and found that it ‘reset my brain’ every time I went in.
Since then, I have progressed to assistant instructor having completed my Instructor Foundation Course (IFC) and have nearly qualified as a dive leader. Diving gave me a focus when I was in a very dark place with my mental health.
It continues to improve my fitness and offer me endless enjoyment. Without diving and my family (and my diving family) I genuinely don’t know whether I’d be here today.
On 28 September this year at Stoney Cove Dive Centre in Leicester, I beat three diving Guinness world records simultaneously (currently awaiting the official verification). The team I had supporting the challenge was huge and I couldn’t have achieved it without every individual and company who donated their time, skills and resources.
Next year I will be taking part in a massive charity event called ‘Baton of Hope’, campaigning for a zero suicide society. This event is very close to my heart which is why I’m so keen to help. I believe that fitness is key to a disabled life. If you’re interested in scuba diving or any of the other sports I’ve tried, please contact me for a chat. Alternatively, I know SIA would be able to provide some great advice and point you in the right direction.
Dan is raising funds for SIA, and to raise awareness of disability diving and the benefits that diving can have on mental health. To support him please go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wheelsdan
This story appeared in the Winter issue of our magazine FORWARD as part of a larger article about careers after spinal cord injury.
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