Larry Thompson Owner and PADI IDCS Instructor #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 IDCS 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 SzczepanskiPADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer #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.
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 (modest) author of five (count them and weep, losers!) 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!
Charlie PritchardPADI Open Water Scuba Instructor #175404
Dan CapobiancoPADI Open Water Scuba Instructor #423847
Fred Blatchford PADI Divemaster and DSD Leader #423846
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!
Sally Pendoley PADI Divemaster #433604
I began SCUBA diving just three short years ago while attending Florida State University’s Underwater Crime Scene Investigation program. Through IANTD and AAUS, I became a certified Public Safety Diver and decided to go a step further by getting trained as a PADI Divemaster during my time living in Panama City Beach. Using sidescan sonar and my Divemaster and Science Diving skills, I took an internship with FSU to survey the damage inflicted on Bay County’s Artificial Reef System as a result of Hurricane Micheal. It didn’t take long for me to realize that SCUBA diving was my passion, I could make a difference in the marine ecosystem and our environment, and that I loved sharing my enthusiasm with others. When my internship concluded and I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and certificate in the summer of 2019, I moved to Tampa eager for more diving opportunities. I plan on continuing to give back to the environment by participating in various clean-up dive opportunities, and I looks forward to sharing my love of diving with Calypso’s future certified divers.
John Szczepanski PADI Divemaster #238065 and Service and PSI/PCI Technician
My first encounter with diving was actually snorkeling, inside the reef around Guam while I was stationed there in the early 1970s. 20 years later, while living in Maryland, I received a coupon for a free ‘Discover Scuba’ class. I enjoyed it enough to get open water certified. After being transferred to Florida, I advanced up to Divemaster, more for the knowledge than to actually work as a divemaster. Since then, I have been a recreational diver and sometimes volunteer at the Florida Aquarium. After repeatedly hearing Ilsia tell me how backed up the service area at Calypso was, I thought how difficult could it be to service regulators, BCDs, and tanks. After all I have spent many years servicing and repairing bicycles, mini-bikes, motorcycles, cars, light trucks, and 4 years of servicing and maintaining B-52 aircraft while I was in the Air Force. After completing training, I now work two to three days a week insuring that Calypso’s clientele have safe, serviceable equipment with which to pursue their own diving adventures.