Paul is the President of training agency, RAID, and is a working instructor trainer and expedition diver. He’s also an avid wreck, cave, sidemount and rebreather diver. After living in South Africa for 23 years, it's odd Paul discovered diving in the cold waters of Southern England! It’s these kinds of plot twists that define Paul and his passion for doing things differently.
Within months of learning to dive, he had his own center in London and rapidly progressed to Course Director before discovering and pursuing his passion for technical diving with rebreather diving as his main focus, in 2002.
In 2007, Paul decided to concentrate purely on technical diver training and expeditions, and Diving Matrix Tec Lab was born. Tec Lab was innovative in its design and philosophy and set the benchmark for advanced diver training. Then, in 2011, Paul was offered the position as Director of Technical Training for SSI (Scuba Schools International) and was responsible for writing diver and instructor manuals and training standards as well as training future technical instructors and trainers. In 2014, Paul joined and became a co-owner of RAID International. Initially, he held the position of Training Director but in 2019, accepted the position as President for the company.
Paul has dived wrecks and caves all over the world and also safely planned and executed many deep ocean wreck dives. He has participated in multiple expeditions including the HMS Hampshire, Vanguard and Royal Oak in Scapa Flow. In Malta and Italy, he has worked on ancient Italian and Phoenician amphora wrecks and has participated in exploratory dives on the Polish destroyer L-72, the British submarine HMS Olympus, an American WWII B-24 bomber and many others.
Paul regularly contributes to various dive magazines including Submerged, Diver, Sport Diver and Tanked Up. He has worked with Film and TV Companies as a diver, supplier and advisor. He has given many diving-related presentations at training agency member events, OZTek, DEMA, TekDive USA, BalticTech, ADEX, EuroTek, TekCamp, the British Scuba Industry Trade Association, the London International Dive Show and global dealer seminars.
A little boy called Sebastian, motorcycles, tattoos and playing drums are the other major influences in Paul's life.
What (or who) persuaded you to become a professional diver?
I learned to dive with nine of my best friends. After doing my first skill underwater, it was obvious that my life was going to change. Within 6 months, I had my first dive center and the 9 people I learned with helped me build the shop. Such wonderful times.
Describe your biggest challenge when diving.
I’d love to write a dramatic story but, in all honesty, I have had a charmed life in this industry. I have been incredibly lucky; so many wonderful people (and some are ambassadors for Divesoft) have helped me in my diving career.
Which diving achievement are you most proud of?
I am extremely proud of the friendships I have made and the incredible people I have been fortunate enough to dive and work with. The diving industry is an amazing community and I love being part of it. I think my proudest two moments were when I became a member of The Explorers Club and also started my own training agency.
What was your first diving experience like?
It was simply amazing. It was off a beach in the south of England called Chesil Beach. I was in awe of the beauty of the underwater world and became totally hooked. Diving became my life, it’s as simple as that.
Why do you prefer rebreather?
Rebreather allows so much more than traditional open circuit. One of the expeditions I do is at 110 meters and although you can use an open circuit at that depth, dive times are severely reduced due to the gas constraints and the logistics for filling open circuit cylinders at the end of each day versus filling small oxygen and diluent cylinders. I honestly believe that a well-trained diver, adhering to a well-planned dive, is safer on rebreather. In addition, I love the silence and the warmth that a rebreather gives me. Don’t get me started on interaction with aquatic animals while on rebreather, I could write a million words about my dives with sharks and dolphins while using rebreather.
What's your favorite diving gear?
Easy, it’s my Liberty sidemount rebreather. It’s such a versatile piece of equipment. Using it as a traditional sidemount gives me the freedom that only a sidemount diver feels when diving. I also use it as a bailout rebreather and have been working hard developing a protocol that will reduce the amount of open circuit bailout I have to wear on a deep dive. Watch this space.
What's your favorite diving spot?
That’s easy, it’s Malta. Malta has been fought over more than any other island in the world and those amazing islands have wrecks everywhere. From World War I and II wrecks right back to the Phoenicians. I lived in Malta for a few years and loved it. Not only is the sea wonderful but the Maltese people are just amazing. It’s an amazing country in every way.
30. 6. 2020 THE SCUBA NEWSLearn more >
Business-Savvy Paul Toomer Combines Passion and Drive to Become One of Diving’s Most Successful Instructors.