by Dr. Sam Miller
? 2009 Dr. Sam Miller
All Rights Reserved.
?Legends of Diving? honors one of the nicest and loveliest
ladies that ever placed a SCUBA tank on her back, Miss Zale
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.
Zale Parry and Lloyd Bridges
the set filming an episode
of Sea Hunt.
Zale Parry will
appear with others in the second
annual Legends Festival
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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