Pioneers Have Given Diving a Name
Who do you think made the biggest impact on diving?»Cousteau is an obvious choice but he really wasn’t a hands-on guy. He was more of a producer. Within the same first generation of diving, guys like Stan Waterman, Hans Hass, Bob Hollis, and Al Giddings brought the gift of visual impact to people. Their films and photographs brought diving to the public in a very personal way. And they did it in a time of inferior equipment, both diving gear and cameras. Yet it grabbed the viewer and drove a lot of folks to try diving. The late Paul Tzimoulis did so much for the sport through his stewardship of Skin Diver magazine back in the 1970s especially to promote new and exotic diving locations, liveaboards, and equipment breakthroughs. (This was before the magazine whored itself out to became the worst example of “advertorial” crap.) Manufacturers like Dick Bonin and Hollis really changed the way gear was built and brought to the consumer. They each had a huge influence on me and I’m proud to know them as friends. Sadly, Paul passed away in 2003. We had some great times together. Diving needs some new heroes. If the industry was smart, they’d latch on to Howard and Michele Hall in that role. Their work is superb, they’re telegenic, great speakers, and they’re wonderful ambassadors. They’re impossible not to like. Spending time with them is always uplifting for me. How many people can you say that about?
You are credited as one of the most influential pioneers of modern diving, what do you think?»There have been a lot of good folks who helped move diving ahead. I’m just one who wasn’t afraid to speak up and articulate more progressive perspectives. I saw opportunity in embracing new technology and innovations. It was good business. (Now I sound like some mafia don… “It was only business, Fredo, not personal. Never go against the family.”) Although the conservative lunatic fringe frequently savaged me, eventually all the controversial positions that I took proved to be correct and helped move the sport forward. Look at liveaboards, computers, nitrox, rebreathers, technical diving, solo diving, changes in how training is done. That’s very satisfying.
But it’s worth remembering that old expression: “You can always tell a pioneer… he’s the one with arrows in his back.”»Well, if that’s true, then at times I must have looked like a veteran of Custer’s Last Stand. But hey, that’s life. Diving was very good to me. I made a fortune doing exactly what interested me most and enjoyed every minute of it along the way. If I contributed, even in a small way, to innovation and progress, then I’m glad I gave something back. At this stage, I’ll borrow my own perspective on life from Bob Dylan, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”