About PSAI

LEADING THE WAY: SPORT AND EXTENDED RANGE DIVING SINCE 1962

PSAI History

The Professional Scuba Association International is oldest technical / extended range scuba certification agencies in the world. PSAI was the first agency to offer certification at the diver and instructor levels in both recreational sport and technical diving, almost three decades before anyone else.

PSAI was first founded in 1962 as Florida Divers Supply (FDS) by Hal Watts. In 1969 the name was changed to Florida State Skindiving Schools (FSSS). FSSS at the time was one of the largest dive schools in the world, with four locations in

Florida and one in St. Lucia. It was as FSSS where the Golden Triangle originated and later evolved into the PSAI logo used today. As the organization had expanded well beyond the borders of Florida the name was again changed to the Professional Scuba Association (PSA) in 1988. The tenants, upon which PSA training was built, were so successful they led to further expansion into the international diving arena. Thus, in 1995 the “I” was added to PSA to make it the Professional Scuba Association, International (PSAI).

More History

Virtually all of the early history PSAI centers on the vision and leadership of the founder, Hal Watts.

Hal has often been asked how and why he got so interested in deep diving and deep diving records. Actually, Hal got involved in SCUBA by accident. He moved to Orlando Florida from Atlanta, Georgia back in 1961. Hal belonged to the Georgia Arms Collectors association while living in Atlanta. After moving to Orlando he was looking in the newspaper ads for guns. He came across an ad selling SCUBA equipment. Since Hal had only dived once back in 1955 while in law school, he thought it may be interesting to try it again. Hal responded to the ad, bought the used equipment, which included a 1959 US Navy Diving Manual. The person selling the equipment, Jim Bollinger told Hal to read the manual and he would meet Hal at a local hotel swimming pool the next night and show him how to use it. They met and Hal was “hooked”. Hal’s first dive outside of that pool session was on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1962 in Crystal River, Florida to a depth of 51 feet. Man, it was great, except for “having the hell scared out of him” when a “Sea Creature” as long as their boat swam past him. Hal later found out that Manatees, AKA “Sea Cows” were not dangerous.

Hal soon became like a sponge getting all the information he could obtain, diving experience possible, and soon founding Florida Diver’s Supply. His knowledge and success in diving soon caught the attention of John Gaffney – the founder of NASDS. Hal soon became the Training Director of NASDS and NASDS OWI # 1.

Hal Watts

PSAI founder, Hal Watts

PSAI México

Leading the way in sport and technical dive instruction in México

With such beautiful dive sites, it’s no wonder México is one of the world’s top diving destinations. PSAI México certifies divers and dive instructors in all levels of diving. Many of our instructors have international roots and can teach in multiple languages. We are proud to carry on the tradition of excellence in dive instruction.