In 1935, Jean Painlevé and naval officer Yves Le Prieur founded the first amateur diving club in Europe (after “Bottom scratchers”, a diving club founded by Glenn Orr in California in 1933). Yves Le Prieur was a prolific inventor. In 1933, he conceived the first self-contained aqualung, a pioneering device using a compressed-air cylinder with a demand valve, allowing autonomy from the surface. Jean Painlevé was interested in this venture hoping it would lead to new developments in underwater photography. For the name of their club, Painlevé came up with "Club des Sous l'Eau" (a pun, when pronounced in French the name can mean both ‘Underwater Club’ or ‘Drunkard's Club’).
Header Image Credit: Jean Painlevé (left), Yves Le Prieur and M. Cazalis at an underwater gala at the Pontoise swimming pool, Paris, 1936. Photo: Philippe Halsman. © Copyright Halsman Archive and Archives Jean Painlevé