Tim and the author enjoy the ride back to the marina on Lake Erie.

SITTING IN A DUSTY OFFICE chair surrounded by dozens of tanks, scooters, drysuits, a massive compressor, and nearly a hundred photographs of dives from around the world tacked to plywood, I found myself in Tim’s dive shack. It was in this shed that I met my instructor for the first time. He would later become a trusted dive buddy and, even more important, a dive mentor. 

“Let’s plan a dive,” he said, and with that statement kicked off a kind of relationship that can be enormously beneficial to an eager new diver: that of a seasoned and experienced mentor to a student. 

I originally contacted Tim Laurito to explore options surrounding technical dive training. While I could choose from a variety of instructors, I wanted to find someone with a dive philosophy that resonated with me. One specific thing stood out about Tim during our initial conversations that was key to my decision in choosing him as my instructor: Tim wasn’t just training divers; he was building them from the ground up. 

In addition to following the certifying training agency’s standards and requirements, Tim insisted that we dive together as often as possible. He strongly emphasized the importance of working up to skills over time, and he was committed to diving with me at no cost after my certification to ensure I was a safe and confident diver, exceeding agency standards. 

A dedicated mentor like Tim isn’t easy to find. A true mentor provides feedback and instruction that over time build the foundation of a safe and successful diver who is consistent in their skills and able to masterfully execute them. Mentors possess knowledge through their own personal experiences that can advance a diver’s education beyond what is covered in basic instruction. 

Tim surfaces after a successful dive on the Roy A. Jodrey.
Tim surfaces after a successful dive on the Roy A. Jodrey.

While earning a variety of advanced certifications with Tim, I was also able to learn and understand gas blending, the best places to service equipment, the best captains and boats for diving, unique locations other divers rarely visit, and vital background knowledge on safely diving wrecks and caves I had never dived before. 

For divers interested in finding a mentor, I suggest diving as much as possible. The opportunity to foster lasting and meaningful relationships with someone who can act as a mentor increases tremendously the more you get in the water and surround yourself with divers who are actively doing the type of diving that you want to do. 

Watch for someone whose dive philosophy is similar to yours and who has a passion for sharing the sport with others. You may be as fortunate as I was to find someone like Tim. I am thankful to him for going above and beyond to make me the diver I am today. AD

© Alert Diver — Q2 2023