Learning to be a dive master, with apologies to Lloyd Bridges

By Edie Grossfield

Eric Thibodeau has been scuba diving for a third of his lifetime. He’s only 18, but this young dive-master-in-training knows his stuff. He teaches scuba diving for MDC Sports, the only scuba diving shop (go figure) in Rochester, and the place where us land-locked folk go to get certified for underwater adventures in the Keys, the Caribbean and beyond.

"I first got certified in Hawaii while on vacation, and ever since then I’ve just fallen in love with the sport," Thibodeau said. "While other kids were out playing football or soccer or varsity sports, I was just spending my money on scuba diving."

That’s beautiful, that you had so much passion for something at such a young age.


Yeah ... and the chicks dig it. And, I like that when I’m underwater no one can talk. If people are grumpy on the surface, they’re not grumpy underwater. You can’t hear anything but bubbles. And it’s taken me all over the world. I’ve been to Belize, Honduras, the Cayman Islands, Hawaii, the Florida Keys, Bahamas.

Have you ever seen any episodes of the old TV show "Sea Hunt," starring Lloyd Bridges as the brawny underwater crime fighter Mike Nelson?

I have. I have seen many episodes.

What? That show went off the air 30 years before you were born, and it hasn’t exactly been a regular on TBS.

Yeah, but we have probably 10 shows in the dive shop. And when no one’s around I pop them in and watch them. It was a pretty funny show — I think of it as more of a comedy.

Well, for your ancestors, that was a thrilling adventure show.

Yeah, I guess back in the day, that show was the number one reason why people got into scuba diving. It’s pretty funny to see some of the things that Lloyd did.

What’s with the word snorkel? That is a bizarre name for something, isn’t it? Just say it five times in a row and you’ll see what I mean.


Snorkel, snorkel.

That was only twice.

OK, snorkel, snorkel, snorkel. It is a bizarre name. To tell you the truth, I don’t know why it’s called a snorkel.

What is the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen while scuba diving?

On one particular dive, I saw 12 sting rays, and it was kind of like a flock of birds. And in the background a turtle was right behind them. And it came

up to my mask and he kind of turned his head like in "Finding Nemo." He was kind of like "Hey dude, what’s up?" And it was so beautiful. I could have cried underwater.

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