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Who has had the greatest impact on scuba diving?

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The more individuals that explore the world of scuba diving, the more importance is focused on specific individuals that have contributed so greatly to the sport of diving itself.

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Four particular men come to mind with the title of 'Scuba Pioneers' influencing the sport in various ways.

Jacques Cousteau is a name that is well-known for so many outstanding contributions to the diving world. Through his research and tireless experimentation, he is credited with bringing technology and apparatus development to gear, which, in turn, extended the duration that divers could stay down and enjoy the underwater scenery and marine life. Early scuba development could not have been entirely possible without Jacques Cousteau. He led the first archeological underwater explorations and documented his findings in great detail. His documented work is still part of our scuba teachings to this day. Cousteau was also a huge advocate of ecosystem preservation. Many of us can remember watching him on his own weekly tv series in the 60's and 70's which was called 'The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.'

When it comes to scuba training, diving awareness and the popularity of the sport, Albert Tillman is a name that is never forgotten. As Director of Sports and Underwater Activities in Los Angeles in the 1950's, Tillman created the programs necessary in order for divers that had a true passion for the sport to advance to become dive instructors. He not only oversaw the actual program, but developed the textbooks and the films of what later would become an actual college degree program. His accomplishments took him to even greater levels as an award-winning underwater photographer and technical advisor to a tv series that still remains part of our earliest memories, 'Sea Hunt.' Tillman is also the founder of NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors).

When it comes to durable wet suits, sturdy dive gear and lasting dive equipment, Bev Morgan is the man. Through his diligent efforts in respect to innovations of the wetsuit, Morgan greatly impacted not only the sport of open water diving but commercial diving as well. He joined with Bob Kirby, a navy diver with a vast array of skills. Both Morgan and Kirby answered needs when it came to not only the wetsuit but helmets and equipment as well and the Kirby Morgan name is still highly respected in present day.

Dick Rutkowski is a true pioneer in hyperbaric medicine, diving medicine and diver training. His experience and knowledge dates as far back as the 1950's. He worked at NOAA and founded NOAA Diving/Hyperbaric Training and also helped to establish the Diver Treatment Facility in 1973. He is a NOAA Aquanaut and founder of American Nitrox Divers International, the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers and the Undersea Research Foundation. Rutkowski published a diving accident management manual which he is very proud of. It was one of a kind and set the standards for DAN (Divers Alert Network). To this day, he draws students from far and wide as he teaches a class known as 'Advanced Diving/Hyperbaric Medical Team Training Program with Chamber Operations.' Age has not slowed him down one bit. To friends he is lovingly known as "Hyper-Dick" and he resides in the Florida Keys where he is highly respected.

All of these four men not only impacted the sport of scuba diving in the past but continue to impact in the present and their legacies will set the bar for future scuba divers.

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