Larry Thompson Owner and PADI Course Director #360038
I retired from the United States Army after 22+ years of service and returned to Florida where I began diving with friends in high school. I believe that scuba diving is much more than a hobby; it is more accurately a lifelong adventure and has the power to change lives. I am a member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) and a volunteer Divemaster with the Florida Aquarium in Tampa where I log dives virtually every week to help maintain exhibits, lead guest dive experiences, and participate in off-site conservation and research projects. My passion for scuba diving is one that I believe is contagious. Few people return from a scuba dive the same person they were when they started. Mostly the changes are subtle in that they have gained an appreciation for the beauty and diversity of life below the sea. For others, the change is more profound and launches them on a career as a professional diver or in marine biology and environmental stewardship. Scuba diving is a shared time when families can connect. Observing first-hand the transformation students undergo as they progress from the classroom, to the pool, and finally to their checkout dives is irreplaceable. Watching the students’ expressions when they see the aquatic life in the lakes or rivers Calypso uses for instruction and knowing what awaits them at other open water dive locations, is one of the true benefits of scuba instruction.
Laura Thompson PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and Owner's Wife
I took a long time to experience scuba diving, 30+ years to be exact. I finally took the plunge at the Florida Aquarium when they were looking for guests to try out their new Test Dive Scuba program. An hour later I surfaced and said, “I want to do this!” Since that first experience I have visited dive sites across Florida and the Caribbean with Larry. Of course, Larry reminds me that we could have been doing this for the past three decades. But better late than never. Scuba diving gives me the opportunity to see the beauty of God’s creation up close and personal.
Bud LedfordPADI Master Instructor #196448 and Computer Service Technician
While working for Verizon I was transferred to Florida. One item on my bucket list was to learn to scuba dive. 20 years later this is where I am, retired from Verizon and working and teaching at Calypso. During the week, I service dive computers and sports watches. At other times, I teach scuba classes. You name the class and as a Master Instructor I can teach it. One of my other hobbies is crocheting and winning awards for my work.
Rob BrandPADI Master Instructor #242074 Service Manager and PCI/PSI Technician
After retiring as a decorated Firefighter/EMT, I moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2005. As a joke, a friend said that I needed to get my SCUBA certification because it was required for my driver’s license! Of course, this was not true but I still went and got my certification. After my course, I did my first open water drift dive in Cozumel, Mexico. I was instantly hooked on diving and wanted to become an instructor as soon as I got back home. 14 years later and hundreds of dives later, I spend every day doing what makes me happy, teaching people how to dive. One of the great pleasures as an instructor is watching new divers explore one of the most prescious resources the world has to offer, the Oceans!
Ilsia Szczepanski PADI IDC Staff Instructor #238066 and Store Manager
"I love working with students because they challenge my creativity to recommend the best solutions for their diving, swimming, and snorkeling goals." - ilsia
In 2001, the local dive shop in Maryland mailed cards inviting people to come “Discover Scuba Diving” and my husband fell in love with breathing underwater. I was talked into taking the open water class with him and since then we have enjoyed many dives together including scrubbing the Florida Aquarium Coral Reef exhibits. I love living on the edge, whether it is diving to 100 feet depth or climbing redwood trees 100 feet off the ground. At Calypso, I use many skills from my past life as an Internetworking Engineer and Accountant. I primarily enjoy working the retail floor and coordinating the scuba classes. My passion is meeting new divers and teaching scuba classes to convert new timid divers into confident and excited divers that look like they have been diving for years. Just completed another goal, becoming an IDC Staff instructor, which means I will be able to help influence divers that want to become scuba diving instructors.
Ed ZellemPADI IDC Staff Instructor #389640
I got my first PADI certification in a cold, dark quarry near Pittsburgh in 1986. I loved diving from the start. Since then I became a U.S. Navy captain and the award-winning author of five books. and had adventures and dives all over the world. Whenever I could, I always had my dive bag nearby.
Fast forward a three decades in the Navy, and in 2011 I got orders to Central Command in Tampa. It was my first time being stationed in Florida, so I asked people on base where the best local dive ahop was. The first three answers were "Calypso."
I visited the store and saw immediately they were right.
Calypso and its hand-picked team have hit that rare “sweet spot” where fun and professionalism meet. That’s exactly what I was looking for. Calypso is a happy place that provides diving education, opportunities, and equipment sales and service of the highest quality. Calypso became the "home base" for all my recreation diving needs while I finished my time in the military.
I retired from the Navy in 2017 after 30 years' active duty. Now I could share my passion for diving whenever and wherever I wanted! So I started teaching at Calypso. As an IDC Staff Instructor, I can teach students from Open Water Diver all the way through Divemaster. I also can help prepare Instructor Candidate for the PADI Instructor Examination.
No matter WHERE you want to dive, or WHAT level of training you aspire to Calypso can get you there. And I'm happy to help you get there too!
Joe Cassara PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer #367378
As I traveled the country, and some parts of the world for work, I always looked for new adventures and found Scuba to be it. When my wife of now 20 years and I had our 10 year anniversary in Jamaica, we did the Discover Scuba Diving course and immediately signed up to become Open Water divers while on vacation. Once we returned home, I found Calypso and started to enhance my training. The Scuba bug had bitten me. I became friends with some of the fellow Calypso instructors and they challenged me to keep moving onward and upward, and now I find joy in doing the same to all new and continuing students today. There is a rush of excitement to see the looks of wonderment on so many faces as they descend to another world.
Dan Capobianco PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer #423847
Charlie PritchardPADI Open Water Scuba Instructor #175404
Chad Suders PADI Assistant Instructor #455045
I grew up diving in the pool (literary, old school back plate BC and getting to scrub the pool while my dad watched). He may have gotten the idea from Tom Sawyer, but it worked. I knew I was hooked. I was certified early and learned more with each dive. From lobstering in the Keys, yes I do go die hard and bring the gear for Sportsman Weekend, or just snorkeling for scallops in the Crystal River, my friends and family LOVE THE WATER.
By the way my dog's names are Tuna and OKI (middle water), we live in Florida, and it ain't for the mountains.
Greg Rowe PADI Divemaster and DSD Leader #316974
I moved to Tampa and started my own general contracting business in early 2001. With having much better weather here in Tampa I decided to search out a good dive shop in order to earn my open water certificate. Being blessed I found Calypso Divers which helped me complete my "Divemaster Rating". Upon completion, I have been excited to help others complete their certificates as a Calypso divemaster since 2013. It is, and has been, rewarding working with customers in order to help them enjoy the wonderful world of diving. Stop by and visit, it's a friendly, convenient place to learn diving!
Fred Blatchford PADI Divemaster and DSD Leader #423846
Mark Yaffe PADI Divemaster #499854
I moved to Tampa from the Boston area 30 years ago to escape the cold weather. My daughter talked me into taking diving lessons with her and I thought it would be a fun activity to do together.
I completed the Divemaster certification in 2020 from Calypso Divers of Tampa Bay and I knew immediately that I wanted to help other students. The underwater world is so beautiful and the staff at Calypso Divers makes the process of getting certified fun.
My other hobbies are powerlifting, skiing and I’m a collector of antique music boxes.
Jeremy Pollack PADI Divemaster #456205
I became fascinated with diving at an early teen after hearing my friends tell amazing stories. I got certified as a PADI open water diver at 15 years old and never stopped. I have dove a majority of the Florida Springs and most of the Caribbean. My favorite type of diving is wreck diving. After diving for years, I decided to start increasing my knowledge and certifications, ultimately reaching the Divemaster level. This level allows me to start helping new divers discover and master the art of diving. In addition to recreational diving, I dive regularly as a certified Public Safety Diver in Hillsborough County. The zero visibility diving in gator infested water is not nearly as nice as diving Florida's coasts, but it's a job I thoroughly enjoy!
Erick Morgan PADI Divemaster #504313
I love anything and everything about the water. While exploring the ocean via surfing, snorkeling and swimming, I decided that I wanted more time underwater to explore and educate myself on "all" that it has to offer. Once certified to dive, I fell in love and don't plan on looking back. My passion for becoming a divemaster stems from the feeling that I had when I began to see all that diving has to offer. My desire is to pass that feeling on to as many people as I can so that you too may experience that very feeling.
William Harris PADI Divemaster #504682
Just livin' the dream & lovin' every minute of it...
"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure." ~ Paulo Coelho