Clint Emerson spent 20 years navigating deadly situations with the National Security Agency and the elite SEAL Team Six. Now retired, heâ€™s just released the illustrated 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operativeâ€™s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation, which includes scuba-friendly skills such as clearing a flooded mask without a bubble trail (No. 84), crossing enemy borders by sea (No. 11) and surviving a drowning while restrained (No. 88). We spoke with him about the secrets of his life and work (and he never even offered to kill us afterward).
Q: Were you a diver before your SEAL service?
A: Growing up in Saudi Arabia, boredom was abundant, so diving and Boy Scouts became my pastimes. I got certified as soon as I turned 12 and have never stopped diving. Learning to dive in the Persian Gulf was actually childhood â€œtraining,â€ prepping for an unknown future.
Q: What’s the most valuable thing about 100 Deadly Skills?
A: Itâ€™s not about becoming more deadly â€” itâ€™s about becoming more safe and secure by leveraging the 100 skills. Divers travel the globe; these skills are useful for anyone traveling abroad or domestically. And people who enjoy new adventures and taking calculated risks will certainly enjoy the book.
Q: Have you ever had to rely on your scuba skills in a life-or-death situation?
A: Fortunately, I have never had to jump from an enemy ship to my dive rig staged 20 feet below the pier â€” or maybe I did, hmm, I canâ€™t remember. [Laughs.] As a kid, an adult dive partner left me behind at a tire reef in the Persian Gulf â€” a not-so-good dive partner, to say the least. In times of crisis, remaining calm, cool and collected becomes the most valuable tool, not having the latest, greatest gear on your back. Most of the time, the difference between life and death is how you react.
Q: What are the crucial “deadly skills” for divers?
A: As a SEAL we have several diving mantras: Never dive alone. Plan your dive, dive your plan . Donâ€™t be scared of the dark. And dive with a full bladder, because urine is warm.