our instructors

Rick Butler

Master Dive Instructor Trainer

Rick started his scuba diving career at the age of 15. He received his YMCA and NAUI open water certification in 1978. Rick has been diving all over the world. In 1987 he did his internship with a dive shop in St Petersburg, Florida. He started teaching and became an instructor in 1988. Since then he has taught at SPC south campus and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Over the years he has certified many divers at all levels. He is currently an Instructor Trainer.

wade howell


Wade started his diving career in 1991 with his open water certification shortly before entering the US Navy as a hospital corpsman. He has experience teaching various graduate and undergraduate settings, and is a published author. He currently is the pastor at First Baptist Church in Branford, Florida, and holds a Ph.D. in Theology. Wade has three children who are certified divers and they all love to dive the springs and rivers all throughout Florida. He is currently training to be an Instructor so he can pass along his knowledge and experience to future divers.

Ana Benet

Dive Master

Ana is a Florida native, a fluent Spanish speaker, a mother of 4 grown kids, and a former rescue pilot with 23 years peacetime and combat flight experience in Air Force Special Operations Command. Multiple tours in combat zones including Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have helped her develop a disciplined approach to effectively manage high stress environments with patience and resolve. She retired from the Air Force in 2020 and has taken up diving as a recreational pursuit. Ana’s initial certification through PADI spurred her interest to such a degree that she has gone on to advanced and mixed gas as well as formally enrolling in the SEI instructor apprenticeship. She has been teaching as a professional flight instructor for over 25 years and loves teaching underrepresented communities with an interest in helping expand the accessibility of aviation to women and girls and the Latina community. She would like to do the same now with SCUBA.

russ novak


Russ is a full time Deputy Sheriff with Pinellas County and has been in Law Enforcement for 24 years, he has been diving Since 1990 and received his PADI OW certification in 1992.  In 1993 he got his SSI nitrox certification and continued sport diving, and in 2020 he started teaching scuba diving part time and is currently an SEI and PDIC Instructor.  Russ did this the old fashion way… through an Internship.  He assisted in teaching classes, fixing equipment and dive mastering existing classes.  He feels that scuba diving is a great sport and enjoys teaching it.

adam strickland


Adam is a full time Special Operations Supervisor with the Tampa Police Dept. He has been in Law Enforcement for 15 years and loves helping people. Prior to being a Police Officer Adam served 14 years in the Active Duty Air Force with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq before changing over to the Air Force reserves and retiring as a disabled veteran after 21 years of service. Adam started his fascination with scuba while still in the military but began his pursuing his Divemaster/Instructor in 2019. Adam gained his Open Water certification with PADI and then his advanced/Nitrox and Rescue with NAUI. Adam crossed over to SDI/PDIC for his Divemaster and Instructor certification and has fell in love with teaching others about the fun sport of diving. When not teaching he is an avid spearfisherman, mountain biker and loves hanging out with his family and enjoying all life has to give.

Steve "Cody" Smith


Cody is a full time scuba instructor and a part time USCCA firearms instructor. In 2012 Cody decided to go from Open-Water certified to PADI Divemaster to become a dive industry professional. After 8 years in the United States Marine Corps Special Forces, he left the military to work for SpaceX as a rocket propulsion technician. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to go diving while working for SpaceX. He resigned to become a full time PADI instructor. He proceeded to further his career by receiving many specialty instructor certifications. This job is perfect for him because teaching and diving are his two biggest passions in life. So if your looking to get wet with an open water certification, or are interested in becoming an industry professional by becoming a Divemaster, Cody can make it happen.

Kyleigh Ross

Travel & Event Coordinator

Kyleigh has only been diving a few years and has entered into the internship program for Divemaster. She enjoys scuba, volleyball, and biking. She is our residential expert on planning on all of our upcoming dive trips. Reach out to her if you have a special place you want us to plan a trip to! Contact Kyleigh for your travel reservations!