A lot of people don’t know this but formal dive training as we know it today was born out of a relationship between the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the County of Los Angeles in the early 1950’s. As a matter of public safety in response to a rash of scuba-related deaths, officials in Los Angeles decided to develop formalized standards and procedures to create a system by which divers could be safely certified. The newly formed County Underwater Unit, looking to pursue a point of authority in the field, reached out to SIO and their Dive Safety Specialist Conrad Limbaugh for help developing standardized training for recreational divers. This resulted in the first formal instructor training program for scuba certification. The rest is history. All, and I mean all, of the current training agencies and their procedures can be traced directly back to the Los Angeles County program and this pioneering partnership.
The partnership continues as every year the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor Certification Course returns to SIO for a weekend of hard ocean training and expert lectures. The photo below is from 1966 and it marked the first year the county handed out the Conrad Limbaugh Award, accepted posthumously by Connie’s widow Nancy. This award remains one of the most prestigious honors in diving.
When people ask you where diving started, you can now tell them. See you out there.