October 2, 2022


  • The diver who helped with the 2018 Thai cave rescue spoke to Insider about life since the rescue.
  • John Volanthen just launched a leadership webinar and is also the subject of Ron Howard’s new movie, Thirteen Lives.
  • Volanthen reflected on the hard-earned lessons and discussed details of his most famous dive.

It’s been a busy summer John Volanthen.

The British cave diver who co-led the rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach outside the flooded Tham Luang Nang Non cave in July 2018, marked the four-year the triumphant recovery last month.

Volanthen then had the unique experience of seeing himself complete that mission once again, this time on the big screen, played by Hollywood actor Colin Farrell in Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives, a dramatic, yet accurate depiction, according to Volanthen, of the daring rescue mission that ultimately saved the lives of every person trapped in the cave.

Additionally, Volanthen debuted this week a free, online course he created in partnership with EdApp from Safety Culture, a mobile training platform. The Top class under pressure collects the most valuable lessons Volanthen has learned in his years of high-pressure underwater cave diving and aims to make them accessible and applicable to a wider audience.

In an interview with Insider this week, Volanthen reflected on his hard-earned lessons and discussed some of the details of his most famous dive.

He shares his wisdom

After the Tham Luang cave rescue, Volanthen said he began to reflect on the knowledge he gained during his many years of cave diving and realized that these lessons could easily be applied to other workplaces as well as people’s daily lives.

The online course aims to help users develop their leadership skills with lessons covering risk versus reward, high-pressure situations, and the importance of teamwork — all through the lens of Volanthen’s unique perspective and driven by his vivid imagery and teachings.

Throughout the course, Volanthen introduces and expands on his self-created ideas, such as “the quiet voice”—an inner guide similar to gut instinct that can prove useful in stressful situations. and the “library of blueprints” — a cache of past lessons that can be drawn upon in moments of tension.

“Hopefully it will give some people some inspiration or maybe just give them some insight into what they’re capable of,” Volanthen said.

Director Ron Howard stands with several divers, including John Volanthen in "Thirteen Lives" premiere.

Director Ron Howard, center, poses with divers Chris Jewell, from left, Connor Roe, Josh Bratchley, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen as they arrive for a screening of the film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in London, Monday, July 18, 2022.

Photo: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP


Seeing himself on the screen

Last month Volanthen also made his film debut, although he was played by someone else.

Due to the COVID restrictions during the filming of “Thirteen Lives,” Volanthen said he was unable to travel to Australia where the production was filmed. But as one of the main themes of the film, it was still able to influence the final product.

Volanthen told Insider that he spent a lot of time working with both the writers and the sound department on what he believes were effective returns.

“The underwater storytelling is absolutely amazing,” he said. “There’s definitely a sense of drama underwater, which is not easy to achieve.”

But the strangest aspect of the movie-going experience, he said, was undoubtedly watching an actor embody him on screen. Volanthen and Farrell met on Zoom several times, where the former tried to teach the latter how to become him.

“It’s very strange trying to teach someone to be you,” Volanthen said. “It’s not something I ever expected to do, but what I found from watching the movie is that a lot of the ways he’s taken are not what I might have expected or tried to teach him.”

Volanthen credited Farrell with being very thorough and quipped that people in his personal life told him the actor “makes me better than I am”.

The film will be available on Amazon Prime from Friday.



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