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Scuba family

Ogburns recognized for diving experience

Posted: December 23, 2011 10:38 a.m.
Updated: December 26, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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Andy, Serena and Larry Ogburn, formerly of Camden, were each honored with Platinum Pro 5000 Diver awards for their contributions to the scuba diving community. The family owns Wateree Dive Center Inc. in Columbia.

The owners of Columbia’s Wateree Dive Center Inc., originally from Camden, were honored with a Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Award this year by Scuba School International. Larry, Serena and Andy Ogburn each received an award for their individual number of dives and 35 years of contributions to the diving community.

Larry taught himself to scuba dive in the 1950s on the beaches of South Carolina before organized scuba groups became available. Twenty years later, he and wife Serena became certified divers and opened Wateree Dive Center Inc. in 1976. Originally located in the Sarsfield Hotel building in Camden, the family outgrew the store and moved their business to Columbia in 1978.

“Camden was home,” said son Andy. “As the business grew and the sport grew, Dad quit his job at Du Pont and concentrated on diving.”

Andy, who became a diving instructor in 1986, remembered the store being “fairly busy” in Camden, but Columbia had a bigger market and more divers, he said.

 In addition to an application and two recommendations, the Platinum Pro 5000 requires applicants to have 5,000 documented dives or 2,500 documented dives and a documented contribution to the scuba diving community, according to its website.

The family received a notice to apply for the Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Award and received two required recommendations from former recipients of the award who recognized the family’s commitment to the scuba diving community.

Larry has been on 5,110 scuba diving trips; Serena, 3,500; and Andy, 3,000, according to the Platinum 5000 website. In their 35 years of business the Ogburns established and continue to teach college diving courses at four colleges in South Carolina, including Winthrop University and the University of South Carolina; participated in USS Monitor expeditions; are instructors for numerous scuba associations; and have guided thousands of men, women and children on diving trips. The family goes on about four to five international trips a year to places such as the Caribbean, central South America and the South Pacific.

 “I’m happy diving locally and in faraway locations,” Andy said. “It’s all fun to me.”

In addition to store duties, the Ogburns operate Law Enforcement Rescue Specialist Inc., training public safety, law enforcement and special response teams.

“We don’t do as much business (with Law Enforcement Rescue Specialist) because it’s non-recreational diving,” said Larry, who has trained law enforcement in Lexington, Richland and Georgetown counties.

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