Just because you learn things a bit differently than others doesn’t mean you can’t master a certain skill.
Check out Tennessee Cumming, who at just 12 years and one day old, became the world’s youngest PADI Junior Master Scuba Diver after completing the final required certification dive in Fiji last week.
Tennessee, whose nickname is “T,” completed the final requirements to earn his Junior Master Scuba Diver rating at 8:35 a.m. local time at the Korolevu dive site, a part of Rainbow Reef in Taveuni, Fiji. T‘s final dive required that he demonstrate competence at rescuing an unconscious diver (his mother Allison) at a depth of 30 feet.
While there are many other Junior Master Scuba Divers in the world, T completed the certificate younger than the existing youngest diver.
Having discovered diving via a Bubblemaker program at a resort in Bora Bora in 2012, T continued his dive education when he and his family moved from Park City, Utah, to San Diego, California and he began taking dive courses under the primary teaching of House of Scuba Dive Instructor (and DeeperBlue.com Staff Writer) Bethy Driscoll.
All the diving T has done since to get the Junior Master Scuba Diver certification — which includes 50 open water dives, an Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, current Emergency First Responder and Rescue Diver Certification, along with five specialties — has helped T manage his ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, oppositional defiance disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, as well as a processing disorder.
As his mom Allison says:
“Diving has become T’s ‘island of competence.’ Raising a child with significant learning differences, it is easy to get caught up in reacting to the challenges they face, rather than focusing on the positive and nurturing their strengths and interests. Even though we knew it would be difficult for him, we knew it was possible even though T mostly kept to himself and seldom expressed interest in sports or other physical activities. Working with Bethy and focusing on his diving has also enabled T to blossom in other areas of his life. He is more communicative and does better in school. The way he expresses himself has improved, and he shows increased mental flexibility. T is just a happier kid.”
T earned his five PADI-required specialties in: Emergency Oxygen Provider, Equipment Specialist, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Boat Diver, and Dry Suit Diver. In addition to that, he also earned a NAUI Junior Night Diver certification. As his father David says:
“There are many types of specialties to choose from, but T picked the ones that are the most technical and complicated. T could have completed more certifications, but he and Bethy had a difficult time finding safe diving conditions due to the unusual El Niño weather in San Diego this past winter.”
T is in the sixth grade and attends The Winston School in the San Diego area, which offers a college preparatory program for bright, creative students in grades 4 through 12 who struggle with autism, Asperger Syndrome, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADD, ADHD, and other specific learning challenges.
His diving achievement has led to the folks at PADI to talk with the Cumming family about making T a PADI Child Ambassador, to generate awareness and passion for the love of diving among a new generation of swimmers and athletes throughout the United States and beyond.