President and CEO, Dive Rite, Inc.
Lamar started diving in 1979 after moving to Jacksonville, FL. The springs of North Florida were the closest dive sites to Jacksonville that didn’t require getting on a boat. After diving all of the springs countless times, he was naturally drawn to the caves. He earned his NAUI open water instructor rating in August 1984. And in November 1984, after cave diving for five years and logging over 1000 dives, he earned his cave instructor rating with the NSS-CDS.
He has gone on to explore and map many cave systems in North Florida and around the world with a small group of dive buddies. The motivation to explore and challenge himself led to the design of many new Dive Rite products and diving styles. Lamar was one of the first to use sidemount techniques to push caves beyond the range of back mounted cylinders. In 1985 he used this knowledge and experience to write the first sidemount specialty program for cave divers for the NSS-CDS.
Over the years Lamar has tested and experimented with various cylinder configurations to evolve sidemount diving into the specialty that it has become. He says, "I would have never thought it would become the open water diving style it is today."
He has tested gear and explored caves and wrecks around the world, including caves/mines in Finland, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Australia, Japan, Italy, Russia, and numerous sites in the USA. He was part of the team that connected Telford Springs and Luraville Springs, two cave systems in North Florida. This dive set a short-lived world record for sidemount traverse in 1989, with a distance of 7600 ft. He has been in the icebergs of Antarctica and under the ice in sub-freezing water temperatures. He also dives plenty of wrecks, having been on wrecks in the Dry Tortugas, Egypt, Israel, UAE, Norway, Antarctica, and the Great Lakes.
Lamar is passionate about cave rescue and recovery. He has traveled around the world for the International Cave Rescue/Recovery team, training divers for this specialty, including Australian and Italian teams.
Lamar is still a very active instructor. He has trained more than 650 people to cave dive since 1984, and continues to train rebreather, sidemount, cave, and other technical divers.
After joining Dive Rite in 1984, he developed the first back mounted wing specifically for diving heavy double cylinders that would later become known as the Classic Wing. An updated version of the Classic Wing continues to be a popular wing today. He brought the backplate that is widely used by technical divers into mass production in 1984. He also worked with SEIKO EPSON to develop the first user programmable nitrox computer, the "Bridge", in 1992. After being with the company from the start, in 1997 Lamar bought Dive Rite from his friend and co-founder Mark Leonard.
Lamar continues to actively dive in caves and wrecks around the world. This provides the inspiration for developing and improving the Dive Rite product line by testing it in any environment imaginable.
Affiliations & Awards
IANTD Board of Advisors (current)
National Speleological Society, Chairman (1992-1994)
National Speleological Society, Training Chairman (1987-1992)
International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery (IUCRR) Training Coordinator (current)
National Speleological Society, Lifetime Fellow Award
Florida Springs Exploration Award, 2000
Contributing writer for Advanced Diver Magazine, Divers Magazine, Scuba Times and Sport Diver Magazine
Contributing author NSS-CDS Cave Diving Manual and IANTD Technical Divers Encyclopedia
Instructor: IANTD, NSS-CDS, SDI, TDI
1982 Rock Bluff, Florida
1984 Devil’s Ear, Florida
1985 Siphon Creek Rise Spring, Florida
1985 Bonnet Springs, Florida
1986 Little River, Florida
1986 Section 26, Alabama
1986 Cow Springs, Florida
1989 Suwanacoochee/Edwards, Florida
1989 Telford/Luraville Springs, Florida
1990 Silver Glen, Florida
1994 Blue Springs, Tennessee
1995 Akka, Shigawatari, Ryusendo Caves, Japan
2000 Unnamed sinkholes, Dominican Republic
2007 Rose Sink
During an attempt to connect two cave systems a team of three experienced cave divers became trapped. As they discussed who might come to their rescue they realized that the most qualified rescuers were themselves. Click the title to read the full story.
After twenty years Lamar Hires and Wes Skiles return to Azure Blue, an incredible cave that is off the beaten path. Click the title to read the full story.
Lamar and his son venture to the Russian outback to do some training and enjoy a little adventure during their annual summer vacation. Icy waters, a steep entrance and late night dinners made the trip all the more alluring. Divers are welcome to join Lamar next year, if you dare! Click the title to read the full story.