Last updated: May 25, 2020 at 3:20 am
Co-founder and former president of the Historical Diving Society USA; founder of Historical Diver Magazine (1993); former diving of officer for BSAC Special Branch in Singapore; writer; lecturer; consultant on diving history; director of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences.
DEMA Press Release (2016): Leslie Leaney is well-known for his dedication to the preservation and sharing of the dive industry’s history. Leaney started diving in 1969 around the island of Singapore and progressed through the BSAC system becoming a scuba instructor, club Expedition Director, and eventually Diving Officer for BSAC Special Branch in Singapore. In 1980, Leaney relocated to Malibu, California where we began to purse his interest in diving history. Throughout the 1980’s, he compiled an extensive diving library and a collection of historical antique equipment. His archives currently provide reference research material for diving historians and items from his collection are on display at various museums. In 1992, this interest in history lead Leaney to co-found the Historical Diving Society-USA (HDS-USA) with Skip Dunham. The inaugural meeting featured a mix of recreational, military, and commercial divers. The Society continues to provide an educational forum for these separate, but connected, groups to learn about their joint history. Initially formed as a chapter of the British HDS, the Society evolved into an American non-profit corporation. During its more than 20 year existence, Leaney has served as Chairman, President, and Executive Director and helped establish and develop an international Advisory Board of divers, which has continued to grow in stature along with the Society. Under his guidance, the Society grew from a few dozen members to over 2,700 in 44 countries and is internationally affiliated with similar organizations. In 1993, Leaney founded Historical Diver Magazine (later renamed The Journal of Diving History), America’s first and only publication devoted to all aspects of diving history. Through his research, Leaney has written numerous articles that have appeared in several international publications. He has lectured on the subject of diving history at seminars in France, Canada, Mexico, England and America. Leaney’s research is referenced by numerous authors and he has acted as a consultant for The History Channel, The BBC, The Discovery Channel, United States Navy, and other organizations. Leaney has dedicated much of his career to the preservation and education of the industry’s history, which will continue to benefit the industry as a whole for years to come.