Legends of Diving Press Release


International Legends of Diving
Complete Historic Gathering of Diving Pioneers on Grand Bahama Island

Scuba Radio Interviews at Legends in the Bahamas

Contact: Gwen Wyble, Publc Relations Contact
Phone: 419-352-9203 / Fax: 734-621-4041

Legends Honored: At the awards presentation Saturday night Dr. John Clement, Ollie Ferguson, Dave Woodward, Ben Rose, Dr. Jose Jones,
Nick Icorn, Neal Watson, Dottie Frazier, Alec Peirce, John Englander,
Karen Rolle accepting for her husband Nick Rolle, and Robert Croft
each received awards for their contributions to recreational and sport
diving. Freeport News report of the event.
Photo by Chris Guglielmo.

FFREEPORT/LUCAYA, GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND, April 10, 2009 – The International Legends of Diving (ILD) based at the Portage Quarry in Bowling Green, Ohio announces the completion of the fist historic offshore gathering of U.S. and Bahamas diving pioneers at the Pelican Bay Hotel and Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) March 30-April 6, 2009. On hand were 12 U.S. and Bahamian diving legends that were instrumental in developing scuba diving into a safe sport that is popular around the world. According to the Professional Association of Dive Instructors or PADI there are more than 18 million certified divers in the world.

Jeff Rice, founder of the International Legends of Diving is pleased to confirm that the event attracted more than 100 divers and non-divers from across the U.S. and Canada. Among the U.S. dive legends in attendance were Dave Woodward, first UNEXSO Dive Operations Manager 1965; Nick Icorn, former Executive Director of the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) and dive historian; Dottie Frazier, first female Dive Instructor; Robert Croft, first American to set breath hold record free dive to 243 feet; Alec Peirce, collector of the largest Sea Hunt Memorabilia and Dr. A. Jose Jones, marine biologist and founder of the first African American scuba club – Underwater Adventure Seekers (1959) and co-founder of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (1991).

Rice states, “The Legends event held on Grand Bahama Island exceeded our expectations and we were thrilled to have these distinguished group of men and women gather for this historic event and share their stories with more than 120 people who participated in a week filled with special guests, educational seminars, social events, interviews with the press and local high school kids. The hospitality of the Bahamian business community and support from our partners – The Pelican Bay Hotel, Discovery Cruise Line and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism allowed us to ensure that the event exceeded our guests expectations.”

Another focus of the event centered on the recognition of four local Bahamian diving legends including former UNEXSO staff members and founders. The four local legends who were honored along with eight U.S. legends at a special awards ceremony held toward the end of the event are – Ben Rose, former UNEXSO resident naturalist and for whom Ben’s Cavern located in the Lucayan National Park is named; Dr. John Clement, former hyperbaric chamber medical advisor and founding member of UNEXSO; Ollie Ferguson, former UNEXSO Dive Operations Manager and Vice President of Dive Operations and Nick Rolle, who assisted Ben Rose in the early exploration of Grand Bahamas’ underwater cave system.

According to Keith Cooper, UNEXSO Director of Sales & Marketing, “The International Legends of Diving event far exceeded the level of participation that we initially projected. Reactions from the local business community; former UNEXSO founders and staff; area high schools as well the support we have received from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, UNEXSO and local hotels in the Lucaya resort area has been extremely positive. This was an incredible event for the Bahamas and I look forward to the event returning to Grand Bahama Island in 2010.” The event also attracted a number of former UNEXSO staff members who gathered for a “reunion” of their own during the ILD weeklong events. Among the former staff attending were – Dick Clarke (leading deep diving and hyperbaric medicine researcher); Charles and Lucinda Hepp (founding member of UNEXSO and former staff members respectively), Bob Farrelly (educator and NAUI instructor); Chuck Burns, founding member of UNEXSO and John Englander, former owner of UNEXSO (ILD award recipient).

During the event, Jeff Rice was keen on having a few days for the local high school students from Edward St. George and Jack Hayward High Schools to attend the planned activities. The “Kids Meet The Legends” idea was implemented to allow the students from the schools marine science program to research the backgrounds of each of the legends and to “interview” them about the early years of diving including the use of vintage double hose dive gear. Bryan Pennington, president of the VINTAGEDOUBLEHOSE.com donated the use of four vintage double hose regulators for the kids to try out in the UNEXSO dive training pool. Pennington adds, “Many of the divers certified today have never used or seen the unique double hose regulators that were common in the early days of diving. We are delighted to allow the students from the local high schools to learn the proper use of the equipment as part of their normal diver certification.”

Greg Holt, host of SCUBA RADIO was on hand to record the magic of the event. After meeting with the high school kids, the legends of diving, Bahamas Diving Association president Neal Watson (ILD award recipient), and a number of guests attending the event it didn’t take him long to realize that history was being made. Watson noted, “This is an amazing event and I could not ever imagine having so many incredible diving legends in one place to be recognized for their noteworthy accomplishments in diving. What an experience and I am delighted to have been invited to this historic gathering of legendary men and women.”

Culminating with an awards banquet held Saturday evening April 4, 2009 at the Pelican Bay Hotel more than 130 guests dined as the host of the ceremony Dan Orr, President and CEO of Divers Alert Network (DAN) highlighted the amazing accomplishments of each of the 12 recipients. DAN sponsored the ILD awards. The unique award formed and shaped from heated glass depicts a scuba diver performing a “giant stride” as if it were entering the ocean from the rear of a dive boat. Local Bahamian artist Sydney Pratt, owner of the Glass Blow Shop hand made each of the awards that are unique as each of the legends receiving them.

Jeff Rice the ILD event organizer hopes that the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and industry stakeholders will welcome the legends back in 2010. States Rice, “The rich diving history on Grand Bahama makes the destination a viable site for future Legends events. After reviewing most of the comment cards from attendees they are overwhelming in favor of returning the event to the Grand Bahama. A decision will be made after consultation with all relevant partners and staff where the next International Legends of Diving will be held. I expect that by mid to late summer a decision will be reached.”

International Legends of Diving (ILD), a premier diving event created to recognize the accomplishments of men and women who developed the sport of diving was founded in 2006 in Bowling Green, Ohio. ILD seeks the input from a notable list of diving experts and entrepreneurs who sit on the advisory board – Dan Orr, President and CEO of DAN; Neal Watson, President of the Bahamas Diving Association; Dr. A. Jose Jones, world renowned marine biologist and founder of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers; John Englander, President of SeaKeepers International; Dick Clarke, President, National Baromedical Services; Dave Woodward, Notable Historian and Underwater Photographer; Bryan Pennington, President of VINTAGEDOUBLEHOSE.com; and Kevin Russell, Attorney at Law – Commonwealth of the Bahamas and United Kingdom.

ILD’s management team and advisory board has worked for a number of world-class resorts, dive operations and scientific research facilities in the Bahamas, Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, Middle East, Australia, Asia and throughout the continental United States.

ABOUT PORTAGE QUARRY: Located just one mile south of Bowling Green in Northwest Ohio, the Portage Quarry Recreation Club is a complete recreation facility that caters to the Scuba diver enthusiast. The Scuba diver will experience some of the best recreational diving in Ohio with clear water visibility, wreck diving, and plenty of fish. The Scuba dive shop includes tank rentals, nitrox fills, equipment, and PADI instruction. There are three professional beach volleyball courts along with recreational swimming from a sand beach. In the summer the Portage Quarry Recreation Club is home to two music traditions, a music BlowOut the first weekend of July and the annual . Also on the schedule is a Divers Alert Network (DAN) Barbeque and the Advanced Aquatics Steak Roast. Trademarks are the rights of the perspective companies.

Portage Quarry Recreation Club, Inc.
12701 South Dixie
Bowling Green OH, 43402

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