The Platinum Pro Foundation

By Bill Gleason

In this issue, we list the recipients of the most prestigious and equitable award in the diving world. Called the SSI Platinum Pro 5000, it has been given to fewer than 1,000 divers. This award is prestigious because it is exclusive. Most divers will never even begin to amass the award's simple, basic requirements: At least 5,000 dives or at least 2,500 dives and a significant contribution (scientific, developmental or pioneering) to the world of diving.

The award is equitable because the requirements listed above are the only requirements. You'll find the names of your favorite divemasters (it takes eight to ten years of daily diving at a resort to get enough "mileage") right alongside familiar and famous diving names. This award could be considered a "Who's Who" in the scuba world, since a lifetime commitment to diving is usually necessary to accumulate the number of dives that earn you the ultimate C-card, the Platinum Pro 5000.

This recognition award, now celebrating its fifth anniversary, is an industry standard. The words "Platinum Pro" confer a status that is earned, not artificially manufactured.

The Platinum Pro 5000 Award was the brainchild of Bob Clark, who started Scuba Schools International (SSI) 27 years ago. After it was created, Clark began to see a larger potential in the group of diving professionals who had received it. One of the natural by-products of diving for most of us is that we become, in the words of Jean-Michel Cousteau, "Ambassadors of the Sea." Ambassadors, by their nature, patiently explain and re-explain the mysteries found underwater and how easily and safely we can explore them with either snorkel or scuba.

Bob Clark reasoned there was an untapped potential in the Platinum Pros and their dedication to diving. So, he created the Platinum Pro Foundation. Launched last month, this nonprofit group, set up completely independent of SSI, seeks to harness the resources of the Platinum Pro 5000 recipients and the award's corporate sponsors. There is only one goal: Educate the young (through the school systems and social activities) about both the excitement and mystery of the underwater world and provide an ongoing, level-headed message on the marine environment. Who better to act as spokespersons than the Platinum Pros?

In scope, however, the Platinum Pro Foundation has far more ambitious goals than just being a speaker's bureau for diving (albeit the largest such group in the world). It aims to use its resources to educate young people via a diverse list of communication points, from brochures to videos to direct speaker contact. And it will work. Among the SKIN DIVER staff and contributing editors alone we number some 14 Platinum Pros. Our consensus (and that of most divers), is to support the project 100 percent.

The foundation will not ask for individual memberships or consumer support, so there is no solicitation message here. It is a supremely logical tie-in between a diverse, worldwide group of diving professionals and an idea whose merit is without question. The education of our youth on the wonders of the underwater world will yield fantastic benefits. The Platinum Pros earned their distinctive and unique awards in the past and children, of course, are our future. Many thanks to Bob Clark and the Platinum Pros for finding a way to link the past with the future.