by LINDA FRABL | photos by Soul of Photography

GO DEEP!

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Tennessee (aka “T”) Cumming, a 12-year-old Rancho Santa Fe resident, recently became the youngest Junior Master Diver in the world. The certification title, awarded by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), is a demanding one. It requires 50 open water dives, five additional specialties, and certifications for Open Water Diver, Advanced Water Diver, Emergency First Responder, and Rescue Diver. In addition to these minimum requirements, Tennessee also earned the Junior Night Diver certification through the National Organization of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).


Name: Tennessee Cumming (12)
School: The Winston School
Grade: 6
Parents: Allison and David Cumming
Siblings: Case (13), Samara (8)
Favorite Local Spot: Helen Woodward Animal Center


student_cumming2It was at the age of eight that Tennessee first discovered his love of diving during a family vacation to Bora Bora. He became enamored by the resort’s introduction to scuba diving class, and Tennessee went on to complete several dives that week. Upon returning to the States, Tennessee continued his scuba training with weekly classes at the House of Scuba in Pacific Beach (he professed, “My instructor, Elizabeth ‘Bethy’ Driscoll, is a great teacher!”), and he’s participated in local cleanups/wrecked craft salvaging.

Elaborating on why he adores diving so much, Tennessee declared, “I really like seeing things that most people don’t get to see: the different kinds of fish, manta rays, sharks, sea urchins, octopi, and stuff like that.” Discussing his Junior Master Diver status, Tennessee admitted, “Becoming certified required a lot of hard work, focus, and not a lot of playing around, which is too bad, because my dive instructor and I love to joke around!”

Future scuba-related goals for Tennessee including more salvage diving. He exclaimed, “I would especially like to discover wrecks that have not been found yet. I also like the idea of going down really deep in submarines, and using cool gear!” Tennessee has great memories of his first shipwreck dive of a large Japanese cargo ship that was sunk during WWII off the island of Palau, which he said was his favorite dive ever.

A soon-to-be seventh grader at the Winston School in Del Mar, Tennessee enjoys his science classes the most. He proclaimed, “I can do lots of cool experiments and then I get to see what happens.” As for his professional aspirations, Tennessee hopes to become a Navy SEAL one day, and maybe even design video games on the side. He enthusiastically added, “I will also keep diving. Everyone should try it!”

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