Legends of Diving Articles

 

For Women Divers Only!
by Dr. Sam Miller
? 2009 Dr. Sam Miller
All Rights Reserved.

This year ?Legends of Diving? honors one of the nicest and loveliest ladies that ever placed a SCUBA tank on her back, Miss Zale Parry.

Zale IS the first lady of American Diving!

Zale's accomplishments are legendary; third underwater instructor in the world, TV & movie credits, research and, development pioneer, organizer of the underwater film festivals and first woman's depth record holder at 209 feet. You


Zale Parry and Lloyd Bridges
on the set filming an episode
of Sea Hunt.
Zale Parry will
appear with others in the second
annual Legends Festival
August 10-12.

can read all about Zale's many accomplishments elsewhere in the Legends. Or better still, meet her in person at the forthcoming Legends of Diving in August at Portage Quarry.

In the last couple of decades women divers have increased from just a hand full to over thirty percent of the present diving population. They have contributed much to the overall current growth and popularity of the sport as well as establishing organizations, publishing magazines, and writing books devoted to the needs and problems associated with women in diving. Although their contributions aren't as widely publicized or as readily
recognized as their male counter parts, they are rapidly emerging as a major driving force in the sport. It is appropriate and an honor that this article be one of the first to recognize some of the women diver's contributions.


There is long list of modern SCUBA diving books but only a few written by women. Beginning with Dr. Eugenie Clark's 1951 best-selling book of the month club The Lady with a Spear which was followed with the rare The Lady and the Sharks in 1969. Not to be left out in the cold is the equally rare and delightful 1954 Treasure Diving Holidays written by Ohio's own Dr. Barney and Jane Crile of the world famous Cleveland Clinic fame. It is a book of great historical significance as it documents the trials and tribulations of recreational diving in the 1930s to 1954. Certainly a must have book for all Ohio divers.

In the past 25 or so years only a few books have been explicitly written for women by women divers that address the problems that they may encounter when entering the underwater world. The first, Women Underwater, published in 1979 by Dr. Susan Bangasser and Jeannie Bear Sleeper examined the problems that women could encounter when entering the water for the first time. The second book published in 1992 on the female diver by Erin O?Neill and Ella Jean Morgan, When Women Dive, takes over where the Women Underwater leaves off. According to Erin and Ella Jean an updated larger version will be published as soon as their very busy lives will permit. The most recent addition to the women's books is SCUBA Diving- a Woman's Guide by Claire Walter which was published 2000.

Bonnie Cardone was at the helm as editor of Skin Diver magazine for a period of twenty-one years. She also managed to write the very informative book Ship Wrecks of the California Coast and the delightfully entertaining Fireside Diver. Certainly must have books for every serious diver's library.

There was the American women's dive magazines, two in number. Cordea 2000 addresses the problems encountered by women in sport diving. The very informative and very slick Women Underwater Magazine is comprehensive with articles on women's physiology, equipment and underwater adventures.

Dive Girl published in England very professional women's diving magazine. It is international in scope, featuring stories of prominent female divers who have or presently actively contributing to the sport of diving.

Long-time friend and occasional diving companion and fellow LA County Underwater Instructor, Jennifer King who now resides in Florida with her husband and two rapidly growing sons, developed two proactive organizations of women for women divers. "Women's SCUBA Association? (WSA) and "Woman's Equipment Test Team? (WETT) both organizations were actively involved in consulting and testing proposed equipment to insure that it was designed women friendly prior to production.

Canadian Jill Heinerth who owns a Florida dive operation, isn?t a well-known west coast sport diving name, but, our correspondence file is rather thick and her autographed picture adorns the wall of my den in a place of prominence. When not editing or writing articles for Women Underwater Magazine, she straps on all sorts of exotic breathing apparatus and breathing equally exotic gas mixtures that sound like something served at a 1960's San Francisco party. With this gear she dives deeper and longer in places than was thought unattainable for a human, man or woman, just generations ago.

Sharon Ready is a red headed enthusiastic refined English transplant. In addition to being the mother of an Americanized fifteen year old skate boarding son, Christopher, is also Vice President of the exotic trend setting rebreather design and manufacturing company, "Steam Machines.? Sharon is recognized as a world-class expert on all aspects of rebreather design, function and use. She has authored numerous articles and is in the process of writing a very definitive book on rebreather history.

It is also appropriate that the spotlight be turned on several active popular midwestern women divers.

There is a picture imbedded within the recesses my mind from last year's "Legends of diving? that says "There goes the future of diving.? It is of a 13-year-old girl, in a shorty wet suit, fins mask & snorkel in hand casually walking to the diving area of Portage Quarry for a "dip.? That young lady, Shelby Berry is the future of American SCUBA diving! Many of the PQ regulars know Shelby, who just happens to be the lovely energetic teenage granddaughter of Jeff Rice, the owner of Portage Quarry. As may be expected from her heritage she has been in and around the diving community all her short life. When most young girls wished a new doll as a present she wanted a new wet suit, when her playmates wanted a new tricycle she wanted a new regulator. When her classmates were studying the underwater world she was experiencing diving at her grand father's side. Her mother Shonda probably describes Shelby best; She is her "little water baby? who has always been attracted to the water and is as much at home in the water as she is under the water.

Bart Rice, Shelby Berry, and Jeff Rice pose for a three-generation
photo at the Legends of Diving Festival in 2006. Bart flew in
from New Hampshire for the event.

 

Lisa Himmelheber, a relative newcomer to the sport is a Hoosier from the neighboring state of Indiana. I have only corresponded with her as a member of an eboard where she is known as Indy Dive Gal (aka IDG) so have never met her up close and personal. I think I know her as one of those unique women with an extraordinary personality as a bright tropical sunrise and a smile as big as the underwater world she recently entered. Little did she realize when she enrolled in a diving class in November 7, 2006 that she would experience an event that would totally transform and dominate her life; new friends, new values, new priorities. No longer satisfied to be terrestrial bound she occupies all her free time by enrolling a variety of diving classes to increase and upgrade her skills and practicing those newly acquired skills by diving at every opportunity. To paraphrase the motto of the US post office "Neither rain snow or sleet?. can keep the Indy Dive Gal, Lisa Himmelheber, from diving.? So far her diving has been confined to the waters of mid west quarries, but shortly after the Legends of diving she will be heading south diving for the first time in the warm clear waters of the Caribbean.

One of the delightful benefits of events such as the Legends is that you met the nicest people who, are bond by a unique unrequited love of an activity and although separated geographically by many miles soon become close friends. So it was when I met Ric and Michelle Thomas last year at the first Legends of diving.

Several years ago Michelle Ulrich was enjoying life and all its bountiful pleasures; sure she had seen Cousteau on TV but as a land locked Buckeye never in her wildest dreams considered she would ever venture underwater. Then she met the love of her life Ric Thomas and had a life-changing event. For Ric, a diver of unequaled abilities and experience, whom I personally respect very much, introduced her to the joys SCUBA diving! The story could end here but like the huckster says on TV "and there's more!? Under the guidance and watchful eye of Ric they began diving at every opportunity concurrently Michelle gaining experience and advancement in the professional diving ranks to the PADI instructor level. Somewhere along the way they surfaced long enough to become Mr. and Mrs. Thomas. In the past few years, in addition to being a full-time wife and part-time SCUBA instructor, has also become very active and very visible in the Ohio council of divers. She is assisting in organizing and presenting the annual SCUBA fest to spread the gospel of Ohio diving to one and all. Michelle Thomas; a credit to Ohio and the world of SCUBA diving!

Divers all, students, wives, mothers, business people, organizers, designers, authors, world travelers. All have and will continue to contribute to the growth this sport we know called SCUBA diving.

Portions of the above article are excerpted from Dr. Miller's forthcoming book and may not be reproduced or quoted in any manner with out the expressed written permission of the author.

Dr. Samuel Miller

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? 2009 Dr. Sam Miller
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