Our Staff

Over Qualified, under paid, and loving the diving lifestyle! Our Instructors are handpicked and the best in the business. Only the best of the best get to join our ranks and be called a Dive Right In Scuba Instructor. Our staff of Instructors and Divemasters is here to ensure you have the most fun possible. Come see why we fell in love with the diving lifestyle.

Our Vehicles

Dive Truck

Dive Truck

About the Truck: Would we be lost without it? Probably not, but this thing is amazing! It holds all of our gear and also has a tent that pops out of the back! We use it for going to the pool, the quarry, and just driving around town! Call the store when you see the truck, tell us the location you saw it, and receive a FREE Air Fill or Tank Rental.

Divers' Dream Boat

Divers' Dream Boat

About the Boat: Purchased in 2010 as a fixer upper, the Dream is now being used to take divers to some of the best wrecks Lake Michigan has to offer! Join us and other divers as we dive all around the Southern End of Lake Michigan. You can see more by going to the WEBSITE

Double Action Dive Boat

Double Action Dive Boat

About the Boat: Purchased in 2013 as the flagship of the fleed, the Double Action is getting a workout on Lake Michigan taking new and experienced divers to the depths and wrecks! Join us and other divers as we dive all around the Southern End of Lake Michigan. You can see more by going to the WEBSITE

Store Staff

Rod Pedersen

Rod Pedersen

Favorite Places to Dive: Lake Michigan, Florida Keys, Bahamas, South Carolina, & Turks and Caicos.

Why I became A Diver: Rod love's teaching new divers as he sees the look of enjoyment, excitement, curiousness, and adventure in the students saucer like eyes. He has taught in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Florida Keys. He enjoys just getting wet and relaxing watching the large pelagic as well as the micro life of the underwater world.

DRIS Responsibilities: Rod does a bit of everything around the shop. Overseeing the Training Department, accounting, and being the owner of Dive Right In Scuba, Rod is the hardest working DRIS Employee!

Mike Pedersen

Mike Pedersen

Favorite thing to see:Anything underwater! There is so much life under the water, how can you go wrong.

DRIS Responsibilities:Mike oversees the general Day to Day of the store and online store. Managing DRIS is something he loves to do and has a passion for growing scuba in the area.

Why I became a Diver: To explore

Rich Padgett

Rich Padgett

Favorite thing to see: I just love being underwater!

DRIS Responsibilities:Rich is a master of the shop. He dabbles in a little bit of everthing. He is also in charge of the Visual Tank Inspections as well as the retail floor.

Why I became a Diver: I was in Boy Scouts and they were having a Discover Scuba. I decided to try it and was HOOKED!!! Game over, now I am a DM and want to stay on the path to Instructor.

Mike Theobald

Frank Collette

Favorite thing to see:Anything underwater or in the ocean

DRIS Responsibilities:Frank is the Code Guru! He is in charge of everything web related with DRIS. He does a great job in the IT department and making sure the online store is up to date and better than any other site out there!

Why I became a Diver: I got into scuba because while on a snorkeling trip in Cozumel I saw several divers below me and I really wanted to be down there so I decided to get certified. Now I'm a certified Rescue Diver.

Mike Theobald

Mike Theobald

Favorite thing to see:Any shipwreck or cave system

DRIS Responsibilities:As well as helping out anywhere he is needed, Michael is in charge of the Drysuit Repairs. He has done almost any repair possible and your suit is in great hands if he is holding it.

Why I became a Diver: I have always wanted to dive and got certified in 1993...I haven't looked back since.

Keith Flynn

Keith Flynn

Favorite thing to see: Shipwrecks in the Great Lakes.

DRIS Responsibilities:Overhauling regulators, BCD's, and Dry suit repairs.

Why I became a Diver: I was intrigued by the thought of being able to breathe under water and decided to become certified in 1993. My goal is to someday be a Dive Master helping other divers.

Jason Gajcak

Jason Gajcak

Favorite thing to see: Caves, shipwrecks, and sharks!

DRIS Responsibilities:Jason takes on any task thrown at him at DRIS. Helping customers and staff at every step when he is at work.

Why I became a Diver: I love doing out of the ordinary activities. Seeing all of the different sea life and formations underwater. It's peaceful and exciting at the same time.

Joe Bailey

Joe Bailey

Favorite thing to see: My bubbles because it means I'm diving.

DRIS Responsibilities:My primary responsibility is regulator repair, I can service all brands of regulators and BCD’s , AGA and OTS full face masks, and the Hollis Prism 2 rebreather. I maintain the compressor room and blend nitrox. I am also the go to guy for travel.

Why I became a Diver: LOVE being under the water!!

Terry Farmer

Terry Farmer

Favorite places to dive: Saint Martin, Grand Cayman, Florida, Gilboa Quarry, Lake Michigan.

DRIS Responsibilities:Support the online store and our full service shop by ensuring all products are shipped out as if they were my own. You can also find me in the storefront helping customers or just trying to help out where needed.

Why I became a Diver: It all started on a trip to Grand Cayman with my family in 2006. I was snorkeling while watching my Father and Sister in law playing with Sting Rays. I thought it looked like a lot more fun down there then I was having at the mercy of the waves and looking out for the notorious blind eel. That afternoon I was in a pool all geared up learning to do what I love now. The only thing I regret is waiting so long to try it.

Kasia Wolender

Kasia Wolender

Favorite places to dive: Cozumel, Curacao, Cenotes, Gilboa Quarry, Lake Michigan.

DRIS Responsibilities:Anything and everything...I help out the team with everything we can to make sure you have a great experience here at Dive Right In Scuba

Why I became a Diver: It all started in Cozumel with a set of snorkeling gear. I wanted to be able to go deeper and be closer to the reef and animals. I became certified as soon as I got back from that trip. It's been my passion ever since.

Chris Lowe

Chris Lowe

Favorite Places to Dive: Florida Keys, St. Lucia, Lake Michigan, The Outer Banks, pretty much anywhere there is something to see!

DRIS Responsibilities:Anything and everything...I help out the team with everything we can to make sure you have a great experience here at Dive Right In Scuba

Why I became a Diver: I had always dreamed of diving, so I decided when I came home from Iraq, that it was time to turn that dream into a reality. Once I took my first breath underwater, there was no turning back....I WAS HOOKED!!!!

Paul Franklin

Paul Franklin

Favorite thing to see: Sealife and wreck diving. I love exploring underwater and am more recently into shark diving - Recent Dive highlights: Whale Sharks, lemons, reef, tigers, nurse, sandbar, bamboo, and zebra sharks.

DRIS Responsibilities:Product updates, marketing, HR, and anywhere else I can make sure customers have a smooth and positive experience with us.

Why I became a Diver: I originally became certified in an undergrad class in 2001 and have always held a passion for scuba. I have a great respect for the underwater world and it's ecology.

Chris Spoo

Chris Spoo

Favorite thing to see: Caves and Mines

DRIS Responsibilities:Tank Monkey

Why I became a Diver: The year was 1998, I was bored, and it looked cool. Later on I was bit by the exploration bug, which led me to caves, mines, shipwrecks, and rebreathers.

Dante

Dante

Favorite thing to see: Bubbles!!

DRIS Responsibilities:I make sure to inspect everyone that walks in the door. If you don't see me, I might be sleeping, just don't tell the boss!!!

Why I became a Diver: Still trying to finish my Openwater Class...I just can't focus, I keep staring at the bubbles and trying to attack them!

Instructors

Rod Pedersen

Rod Pedersen

Favorite Places to Dive: Lake Michigan, Florida Keys, Bahamas, South Carolina, & Turks and Caicos.

Why I became A Diver: Rod love's teaching new divers as he sees the look of enjoyment, excitement, curiousness, and adventure in the students saucer like eyes. He has taught in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Florida Keys. He enjoys just getting wet and relaxing watching the large pelagic as well as the micro life of the underwater world.

Experience: First Breath underwater was July 1960. Instructor Trainer, CPROX1st AED CPR trainer, Emergency First Response CPR, AED Trainer, Open Water Instructor Trainer, Advanced Open Water Instructor, Rescue Diver Instructor, Dive Master Trainer, Assistant Instructor Trainer, Solo Diver Trainer, Professional Cylinder / Scuba Inspector, Visual Tank Inspector, Valve Repair, Eddy Current Inspector.

Instructor for the Following Specialties:

Advanced Buoyancy, Boat, Computer Diver, Computer Nitrox, Deep, Diver Propulsion Vehicle, Drift Diver, Dry Suit, Equipment Specilaty, Full Face Mask, Ice Diver, Marine Ecosystem, Night & Low Visibility, Search & Recovery, Underwater Navigation, Underwater Photographer, Underwater Video, Wreck Diver, Solo Diver, Visual Inspection, Cprox Administrator, Cpr1st, Cprox1stAed, Digital Photography, Project Aware, Fish ID, Aware Coral, Reef Conservation.

Gary Conaway

Gary Conaway

Favorite Thing to See: Anything that is underwater! The aquatic life and new students progressing through the dive lifestyle.

Why I became A Diver: Started out being a public safety diver with a fire dept and fell in love with diving and continued on with recreational diving.

Experience: I'm a Padi Master Instructor and also an SDI Instructor Trainer. I have been diving since May 1975,and logged over 2000 dives. I have dove extensively locally, the colder the better. My newest passion is creating new Instructors and helping them become something special.

Credentials: E.F.R. cpr/aed/first aid-Adult, Instructor Trainer, Openwater Instructor, Advance Openwater Instructor, Rescue Instructor, Dive Master Instructor, Assistant-Instructor Instructor. & NBSP Specialty: Ice, Tec Gas Blender Enriched Air, Underwater Navigator, Night, Wreck, Search & Recovery, Equipment spec. , buoyancy spec., computer spec., cprox, cpr1st,cpr1st-aed, marine ecosystems awareness, multi-level, full face mask, public safety diver, Dry Suit, Underwater Naturalist, Deep Water, Enriched Air, Diver Propulsion Vehicle, Multilevel, Oxgen First Aid, AED for Diver, Marine Life injury.

Jim Shapard

Jim Shapard

Favorite thing to see: My favorite thing to see, underwater, are wrecks. I am always fascinated, and even a little bit "spooked" by seeing a huge, man-made vessel, designed and built to float on top of the water, setting on the bottom. It's a bit humbling. There's also a sense of history with wrecks not intentionally sunk..

Why I became A Diver: I became a diver because I wanted a new adventure in my life. Scuba diving has never disappointed me in that area. Every dive is an adventure!

Experience:First breath underwater was July 15, 1997. Currently a PADI MSDT (Master Scuba Diver Trainer) and an SDI Open Water Instructor.

Credentials

Open Water Instructor, Advanced Open Water Instructor, Rescue Diver Instructor, and Divemaster Instructor.

Instructor for the Following Specialties.

Peak Performance Bouyancy, Wreck diver, Multi-level Diver, Underwater Navigation, Search and Recovery Diver, Underwater Photographer, Deep Diver, Night Diver, Boat Diver, and Enriched Air Diver

Favorite Places to Dive

Jim loves it all, from a mud hole to the crystal waters of the Cayman Islands. His very favorites are most of the Windward and Leeward Islands of the French, Dutch and British West Indies, especially Dominica. Jim also enjoys Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and the Florida Keys. Jim says the best midwest diving is right where we train, Haigh Quarry!

Jim says. "There's nothing like the magical moment when a student first breaths underwater. I can see the excitement in their eyes! It is such a kick to introduce people to the beautiful and thrilling underwater world!"

He has taught in Illinois and the Florida Keys.

Dan Strodtman

Dan Strodtman

Favorite thing to see:In fresh water I like to see wrecks of any type, and in salt water I enjoy all aquatic life and coral reefs.

Why I became A Diver: A high school friend owned a dive shop. I always enjoyed the water, so it was a natural progression. Once becoming certified it's the new discoveries that keep me diving.

Experience:Dan became a certified diver in 1990, a Dive Master in 1996, an Assistant Instructor in 1997 and an instructor in 1998. He currently holds instructor certifications with PADI, SDI, and SSI. Dan has had the pleasure of working with hundreds of wide eyed students over his professional diving career.

Since becoming certified he has logged over a thousand dives in destinations like Palau, Honduras, Bahamas, Curacao, Hawaii, Jamaica, Cayman, Florida Keys, the western pacific. Lake Michigan and where he has logged most of his dives, our own local quarries.

When asked what he enjoys about diving and teaching students he said "What I enjoy most when I dive is neutral bouyancy, the feeling of weightlessness. What I enjoy about teaching is watching the sense of accomplishment students got as they master their skill."

"I am excited to have the opportunity to be a part of Dive Right in SCUBA, our philosophy about diving and teaching divers is similar, and I am having a great time working with the great staff."

Dave Wetherald

Dave Wetherald (Public Safety Specialist)

Favorite thing to see: In the Great Lakes it would be an almost intact shipwreck with decent visibility (I have experienced in excess of 80' visibility). If I am in the Caribbean it would be the different forms of sea life but especially sharks, dolphins and turtles. On the West Coast it is pretty cool to swim through a kelp forest because you never know what you might find.

Why I became A Diver: It may sound trite but I, like many others around my age, became a diver because I was glued to the TV every time Sea Hunt was on (the good one starring Lloyd Bridges � not that the remake with Ron Ely). It was pretty cool when my wife and kids presented me with the boxed set of the entire series for Father's Day one year.

Experience: I started my first SCUBA course through the Chicago Park District in 1973; I only wish I could find that certification card. I started working with diver education around 1976 at Western Illinois University under the direction of Bob Clow (PADI Instructor #M-9 and one of the founders of PADI). I participated in a PADI Instructor Training Course in 1983 that was partially taught by Ralph Erickson (PADI President & Founder). Over the years I ascended through the PADI professional ranks of Divemaster, Instructor, Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Master Instructor and became a PADI Course Director in 1994 with the ability to teach about 30-35 specialties. I am an Emergency First Response (ERD) Instructor Trainer (formerly a PADI Medic First Aid Instructor Trainer) and previously held the rating of Instructor Trainer for the Divers Alert Network (DAN). I crossed over to ERDI/SDI/TDI in 2009 and now specialize in Public Safety Diving where I can combine my diving knowledge with over 30 years of law enforcement experience.

Joe Bailey

Joe Bailey

Favorite thing to see:Everything from the vast colorful sea life to a wreck that emerges through the murky water as you swim towards it.

My Experience:Certified July 09, and haven't stopped. The first breath I took underwater, I knew it was going to change my life. I quickly got through Advanced Open Water and Rescue to get started with my Dive Master training. I didn’t waste any time and decided to become an instructor soon after. I have enjoyed working with and forming new friendships with the rest of the staff at DRIS. My specialties include UW Navigation, Night/Limited Vis, Deep, Limited Penetration Wreck, Boat, Search and Recovery, Dry suit, Solo, and TDI Nitrox. I can teach open water, Advanced Buoyancy, Dry Suit, UW Navigation, Wreck Diver, Night Diver, and Rescue Diver. I am also the regulator technician at the shop as well as the travel coordinator.

Why I became a Diver: I was on a vacation and I had an opportunity to go snorkeling with stingrays and was not content with being stuck at the surface. The rest is history!

Matt Gruca

Matt Gruca (Public Safety Specialist)

Favorite Places to Dive:Cal Sag Canal, Lake Michigan, Rotan and Cozumel.

My Experience:In the summer of 2001 I became a PADI OWSI and in January 2004 I became a SDI OWSI. Currently I am employed Full-Time with the Palos Heights Fire Protection District, since 1998 and became an ERDI Public Safety Instructor in June 2006. I am also the MABAS 19/22 Water Rescue and Recovery Team Leader, which currently has 50 members that specialize in Dive, Ice, and Swift/Flood Water Rescue. Furthermore the team uses Sonar technology to assist in victim and evidence recovery. In April 2006 I was certified to teach the IL OSFM Water Operations course and I can also teach all 5 of the OSFM Technician Courses. This year at the 2014 MABAS Conference I was voted onto the IL MABAS Water Rescue Committee.

Credentials: PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, Dry Suit Instructor, Ice Diver Instructor, SDI Open Water Scuba Instructor, Dry Suit Instructor, CPROX1st AED CPR Instructor, ERDI Instructor, Dry Suit Ops Instructor, Ice Diving Ops Instructor, Full Face Mask Ops Instructor, Surface Ice Rescue Ops Instructor, Contaminated Water Ops Instructor, Underwater Crime Scene Instructor, Swift Water Instructor, OSFM Water Operations Instructor, Watercraft Technician Instructor, Dive Technician Instructor, Ice Dive Technician Instructor, Surface Ice Technician Instructor, and Swift Water Technician Instructor.

Dive Masters

Mike Pedersen

Mike Pedersen

Favorite thing to see:Anything underwater! There is so much life under the water, how can you go wrong.

My Experience:I have been diving since 1992 and have been having fun underwater ever since! With a few hundred dives under my belt, I have been diving all over the world. I have learned so much over the years and enjoy helping new students learn to dive.

Why I became a Diver: To explore

Rich Padgett

Rich Padgett

Favorite thing to see: I just love being underwater!

My Experience:I have been diving since I was 15 and have numerous dives all over the world. I love traveling, and need to do more of it!

Why I became a Diver: I was in Boy Scouts and they were having a Discover Scuba. I decided to try it and was HOOKED!!! Game over, now I am a DM and want to stay on the path to Instructor.

Chris Principe

Chris Principe

Favorite thing to see:I love seeing the aquatic life interacting with the environment, and shipwrecks that provide a fascinating glimpse into history.

My Experience:I became a certified diver in 2009. Since then I have dove in many locations worldwide and achieved a professional level of diving to fulfill my passion for the sport and pass my knowledge onto others.

Why I became a Diver: I became a diver because I have always been fascinated with nature, particularly underwater. I wanted to experience and observe it first hand in a weightless environment. My desire to experience diving has turned into a passion, bordering on obsession, for the sport.

Brian Wetherald

Brian Wetherald

Favorite thing to see:From the wildlife, to the wrecks and even the rocks are exciting to see in the amazing underwater world.

My Experience:I have been certified to dive since 2000, but have been around dive sites since I was a toddler.

Why I became a Diver: I would be lying if I didn't say my Dad's involvement in the sport had nothing to do with it, but I have been interested in diving and everything to be found underwater all my life.

Mike Theobald

Mike Theobald

Favorite thing to see:Any shipwreck or cave system

My Experience:I am a PADI DM and Assistant Instructor. I have over 1200 dives with over half of them in Lake Michigan. I am also PADI Tec Certified.

Why I became a Diver: I have always wanted to dive and got certified in 1993...I haven't looked back since.

Nancy Huntington

Nancy Huntington

Favorite thing to see: I enjoy any kind of diving, from the crystal clear, warm waters of the Caribbean, to the murky cold, more challenging waters of the Midwest. One of my favorite ways to spend a morning or afternoon is on one of DRIS’s Double Action Dive Charters, exploring the many wrecks located in the depths of Lake Michigan. I also enjoy seeing all marine life including sharks, dolphins, and turtles.

My Experience:My first dive dates back to 1986 in St. Thomas , V.I. I also enjoyed diving in Nassau , Bahamas and the Dominican Republic before coming back to Chicago and completing my PADI Open Water certification. I went on to complete Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, and Master Diver certifications. I have also completed specialties in Deep, Wreck, Navigation, Night, Multi-Level, Nitrox, and Solo diving. I realized early on how fun it would be to work with students, so I made the transition to the professional venue by completed concurrent SDI and PADI Divemaster courses.

Why I became a Diver: My passion for diving goes way back to my love for the water. A quick history includes many years of summer lifeguarding jobs along with competitive swimming in high school and throughout college. My first breath underwater with a tank on my back was in 1986. I knew I was hooked upon descent.

Kelly Grahn

Kelly Grahn

Favorite thing to see: I just love being underwater. I prefer a mix of wrecks and aquatic life. I like both purpose sunk artificial reefs and actual wrecks. I love larger animals, sharks, turtles, dolphins, eels, and rays, but also love the special little finds at the macroscopic level that you have to slow down and take time to look for.

My Experience: I got certified in 2007 and did just a few more dives until 2010, when I discovered local diving and the importance of continuing education. In 2011, I rapidly progressed through Advanced Open Water, several specialties, Rescue Diver, and obtained the Master Diver certification in 2012. In 2013 I completed concurrent SDI and PADI Divemaster certifications and became a dive professional. I love working with students and seeing their excitement and wonder as they become new divers.

Why I became a Diver: As a kid, I’d lay on the floor and watched JYC on PBS and became fascinated with the underwater world. I grew up around lots of lakes and swam and snorkeled like crazy through high school, but there wasn’t an opportunity to learn SCUBA until later in life. Once I got certified, it’s become a passion that I love to share.

Chris Lowe

Chris Lowe

Favorite Places to Dive: Florida Keys, St. Lucia, Lake Michigan, The Outer Banks, pretty much anywhere there is something to see!

DRIS Responsibilities:Anything and everything...I help out the team with everything we can to make sure you have a great experience here at Dive Right In Scuba

Why I became a Diver: I had always dreamed of diving, so I decided when I came home from Iraq, that it was time to turn that dream into a reality. Once I took my first breath underwater, there was no turning back....I WAS HOOKED!!!!

Terry Farmer

Terry Farmer

Favorite places to dive: Saint Martin, Grand Cayman, Florida, Gilboa Quarry, Lake Michigan.

DRIS Responsibilities:Support the online store and our full service shop by ensuring all products are shipped out as if they were my own. You can also find me in the storefront helping customers or just trying to help out where needed.

Why I became a Diver: It all started on a trip to Grand Cayman with my family in 2006. I was snorkeling while watching my Father and Sister in law playing with Sting Rays. I thought it looked like a lot more fun down there then I was having at the mercy of the waves and looking out for the notorious blind eel. That afternoon I was in a pool all geared up learning to do what I love now. The only thing I regret is waiting so long to try it.