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
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
Karen Rolle accepting for her husband Nick Rolle, and Robert
each received awards for their contributions to recreational and
Freeport News report of the event.
Photo by Chris Guglielmo.
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
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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