Legends of Diving Articles


'Keeper of the Flame' Nick Icorn Featured at Legends Dive Festivals


Nick Icorn has appeared at  Legends Festivals.

Nick was born in Hollywood, California. He always had an interest in the ocean. From the age of eight he would go tent camping on southern California beaches. He learned to swim in the Huntington Beach surf and in the pool by the pier. He entered high school in 1943. He was kicked out of the Merchant Marines when they found out he had lied about his age and was only 14. His mother helped him enlist in the United States Marines in 1944. He served in the Philippines and Saipan in the aftermath of WWII.

He married Marilyn in 1950. His diving career began one day at her uncle’s home where in a pool he donned a mask and fins for the first time.

Nick was part of the first formal Underwater Instructors Course. He

holds Instructor certifications from the YMCA, Los Angeles County, NAUI, SSI, PADI and NASDS. In 1969 he became the first Executive Director of PADI developing programs and standards. Under his leadership their instructor base went from 234 to over 12,000 worldwide. He wrote numerous training manuals for the industry including the first, “Standards and Procedures Manual,” and the “Basic Scuba Course,” and the, “Course Director’s Manual.”

He worked for many of the US diving manufacturers including US Cavalero, Ocean Dynamics, Healthways, US Divers, and Sherwood Selpac as an engineer helping in the design evolution of diving equipment.

His honors include two NOGI awards, the DEMA Reaching Out Award, The California Scuba Service Award, the Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award and is a member of the NAUI Hall of Honor.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Maldives, Belize, Hawaii and of course Southern California are some of the places he has been diving. His only diving accident was in the 1970’s in the Bahamas when he suffered the bends.

Nick is also in known for his help in the design of commercial technical diving equipment, considered an expert in hardhat, semi-closed circuit, and mixed gas diving. His love of the sport turned to collecting memorabilia and to writing. He appeared at the Third Annual Legends of Diving Festival at the Portage Quarry in Bowling Green, OH where he displayed the Commeinhes Scuba unit manufactured in 1937. It was considered to be the first SCUBA breathing device, manufactured by Georges Commeinhes in France.

Nick Icorn - Experience for the Hall of Fame

  • Nick Icorn attended the first instructor’s course in the U. S. at Scripps Institute in 1953.

  • Mr. Icorn has been with the L. A. County Instructors Program since 1954.

  • He is qualified as an instructor with NAUI, SSI, YMCA and NASDS.

  • Was the first Executive Director and one of the founders of PADI, Project Director for NAUI, and program Director of NASDS.

  • He has been a design engineer for US Divers, Healthways, Cavalero, Airco Cryogenics, Sherwood Selpac, and Ocean Dynamics.

  • He has twice been presented with the NOGI Award from Academy of U/W Arts and Science, and the Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award.

  • Mr. Icorn was presented with the DEMA Reaching Out Award and inducted into the Diving Hall of Fame.

  • He currently serves as the Director of the National Underwater Museum.

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