As a young boy, Dave used to accompany his dad on his lobster boat. He credits those times as having helped to instill in him a love of the water. In 2003, he fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming a SCUBA diver and what started off as a hobby quickly became his passion. Additional certifications soon followed and he worked his way up to be an Advanced Open Water Instructor. When he became the owner of Aquatic Specialties in January of 2014, he became one of those lucky people who can turn a favorite pastime into a career. When asked what he loves most about diving and certifying new divers, he answers, “SCUBA diving allows you to explore another world without leaving this one.” Dave loves to certify new divers and is in the water just about every weekend, year-round. Dave & his wife live in Manchester, NH and also have a cottage on Lake Winnisquam.
Barb McKenney Sylvestre
Barb grew up on Lake Winnipesaukee, started diving in 1992 and became one of the youngest ever Open Water Instructors in the SSI organization. Barb’s family opened their first dive shop in 1992. Barb was certified as a Platinum Pro 5000 Instructor and Platinum Pro 5000 Dive Instructor Certifier. Barb dedicated her life to running the store, putting in long hours, building a great team and loving every minute of it. Barb has had many exciting under water adventures, once coming nose to nose with a hammer head shark, another time finding an FBI badge, and once experienced a coral spawn from start to peak while diving. A desire to spend more time with family led to the sale of the store to Dave in January of 2014. Barb still manages the store and teaches swim and SCUBA. Barb is passionate about animals, especially dogs. She & her husband, Rob, live in Milford, NH with several large dogs and a zoo of many small animals. They love traveling, camping and hiking.
After he tried SCUBA diving in Spain while serving in the military and loving it, Rob knew he’d become a certified diver the first chance he got. In 2001 that led him to Aquatic Specialties, where he met Barb. Not only did he become certified as a diver, he & Barb were married six months later. Today Rob is an SSI Gold 500 Instructor, First Aid & CPR Instructor and Dive Master Instructor. He’s also a certified repair technician. Rob loves teaching SCUBA Rangers because he finds working with kids to be tons of fun. He also finds it very rewarding to be able to work with dive students who are experiencing difficulties and being there to see when it finally clicks and becomes fun for them. His advice to someone thinking about becoming certified as an open water dive,: “Find an instructor you trust. That makes all the difference.” When not diving Rob loves to cook and go camping.
Jim tried diving at a resort on his honeymoon and after that, getting certified as an open water diver was something he wanted to do. Eventually he did, and he didn’t stop with open water certification. Today, the list of certifications under Jim’s belt include: Nitrox, Specialty Diver, Advanced Open Water, Master Diver, Dive Guide, Science of Diving, Dive Control Specialist, Stress & Rescue, Open Water Instructor, Associate Instructor & Century 100 Instructor. Jim has been teaching SCUBA classes at Aquatic Specialties since 2012. When he’s not diving, he’s usually looking for locations he’d like to go on vacation for the diving. He & his wife live in Mont Vernon, NH with 2 cats and a dog.
Doris became an Open Water Instructor in 2009 through Aquatic Specialties. Her favorite part of teaching SCUBA is working with students who don’t think they can get certified, helping them, showing them they can and then being there for the thrill when they realize she was right. Her advice to someone considering becoming certified as an open water diver, “Take a Try SCUBA class at Aquatic Specialties first to see if it’s something you want to do.” When she’s not diving, Doris enjoys playing the saxophone and the guitar. She also enjoys free diving. Doris is a talented painter as well and a number of her paintings are on display at Aquatic Specialties.
Hanna is a familiar face behind the counter at Aquatic Specialties as well as one of the Swim Instructors. A marine biology course led to an interest in marine life and a desire to try SCUBA diving. Her dad surprised the family with a Try SCUBA class as Aquatic Specialties in 2013 and they’ve been diving ever since. When Hanna isn’t diving, teaching swim, or working in the store, she enjoys skiing, reading and drawing.
Nick’s older brother, Chris, became certified as an open water diver through Aquatic Specialties, and he encouraged Nick to become certified too, so the brothers could be dive buddies. Chris introduced Nick to Dave, which led to both a new pastime and a part-time job for Nick. Although Nick enjoys his career as a full time high school teacher, enjoys spending time in the store, working with customers and students.
The newest addition to our team, Barb was recently certified and her love for the sport has been growing rapidly. Her husband had been diving for years but had never thought about doing it herself. When she read “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery she was inspired to try it for herself. She was certified at the beginning of summer 2016 and by the end of the season she already had over 40 dives under her belt. She went on her first dive adventure with us to Cozumel in October 2016 and had the time of her life. Now she works here in the shop sharing her love of the sport with others and helping new people to start their own diving adventures. Barb loves to go on her sailboat with her husband and spend time with her grandchildren and her dog Molly.