Casey Connell PADI Course Director
Casey Connell discovered scuba diving in 1968 and embraced it wholeheartedly — so much so that he retired from technology in 2002 and became a full-time instructor! “I fell in love with being underwater. It’s my passion and I live it every day. Besides, it beats designing a computer network,” he jokes.
Since leaving high-tech, Casey has been certified by PADI to teach over 25 different specialties. He’s dived all over the world, including Mexico, Malaysia, the Red Sea and the Philippines. He particularly enjoys diving in over-head environments such as shipwrecks and caves.
Lori has always had a passion for teaching others. Seeing the light shine as students understand the material is what made her an exceptional teacher for 38 years in the Whittier Public School District. Now retired, she continues to follow her passion, teaching and motivating students in a different classroom – under the sea.
This year Lori will celebrate her 20th year as a Scuba Instructor, teaching both beginners and advanced divers. It’s clear she loves what she does as her students gain a lifelong appreciation for the underwater world while learning to dive safely and having fun. Enjoying her retirement from the school district, Lori now has the free time to travel and dive in many parts of the world in addition to enjoying the waters off California’s beautiful coast. She’s experienced the joy of diving under icebergs in Alaska, diving with Whale Sharks in Galapagos as well as seeing all stunningly beautiful anemones in Wakatobi, Indonesia.
Graduation is a time to discover new things about yourself, to uncover new paths and set new goals. For Karen Conmy, graduation came with a gift that changed her life forever and gave traveling and vacations a new purpose. Receiving a certificate for her PADI Open Water Diver certification and learning to dive was a graduation gift from her sister that opened her world.
That first step created a love for diving that has taken her on amazing adventures – diving in incredible places like Alaska, the Galapagos, Palau, Indonesia, Costa Rica and the warm waters of the Caribbean. Karen started teaching scuba diving in 2000 because she wanted to share her love of diving and life underwater with students and other experienced divers as well. She’s an amazing addition to the Seas The Day Scuba team of instructors and can’t wait to share new diving experiences with you.
There is a great quote which summarizes friendship, “There are some people who make you laugh a little louder, smile a little brighter and live just a little bit better.” For Sandi Stimpert, this thought regarding friendship couldn’t be more true. It was friends like this that in 1993 signed her up for her first Open Water Scuba Certification class after finding she was constantly monopolizing the TV with any show related to ocean life and underwater adventures. That Scuba class was a life changing event. Once certified, Sandi was hooked. By 1996, she had become a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor.
To this day, Sandi still gets great satisfaction from watching the reactions of students the first time they enter the ocean. On one of her most memorable dives off the coast of California, she was able to interact with a young Grey Whale. After diving with it for about 20 minutes, it got close enough to touch it. She still remembers the dinner-plate-sized eye looking at her while she studied it. It was a once in a lifetime experience that she shares with all her students. When not teaching or working with students, you can most often find Sandi enjoying traveling and taking underwater photographs on her many diving adventures.
There are few spectacular dive spots in the world that Lee Coller hasn’t enjoyed. Having fallen in love with Scuba and earning his Open Water diving certification in 2010, Lee has spent the last six years not only enjoying the waters in Southern California, but exploring many of the world’s most exotic dive spots. One of his most memorable diving adventures took him deep to the fresh water and tranquil beauty of the Silfra Crack, considered by many to be one of the top 10 dive spots in the world. In 39 degree waters with more than 300 feet of visibility, this amazing dive enabled him to swim the crevice between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, reaching out and touching both continents simultaneously.
Lee especially enjoys the mysteries encountered in night diving as well as introducing new divers to the wonders of the ocean. An experienced diver with several diving credentials, Lee became an instructor in 2014 and now teaches specialty courses including Deep Ocean Water, enriched Air (Nitrox), Multilevel, Underwater Navigation, Night Diving, Search and Recovery, Wreck, Full Facemask and Equipment Specialist.
Ana Vogel is a true Southern California Girl. Growing up in Long Beach, California, she spent almost all her time at the beach near her house. She learned to swim in the ocean and to sail in the calm waters of the inlet in Alamitos Bay. Her love of the ocean drove her to get her Open Water certification while attending UCLA. And once she started diving, she couldn’t stop learning until she became a PADI instructor. She loves both the cool waters of California as well as the warm, crystal blue waters of the Caribbean. Her last warm water dive trip to her to Fiji, known as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World.” Ana loves everything about the ocean, but conservation is always first and foremost in her heart. She lives by the mantra – “Take photos, Leave bubbles.” Underwater Photography has become her passion. Assistant Instructor
As a Southern California native, Gregg Payne spent most of his life participating in water sports. However, it wasn’t until he returned to California’s coast after completing graduate school in Arizona, that Gregg discovered one of his all-time favorites. Earning his Open Water Certification was only the first step in developing his love for SCUBA diving. Now with hundreds of dives in Southern California, Hawaii and the Caribbean under his diving weight belt, Gregg uses his teaching skills as a certified trainer to instruct young divers in the fundamentals of safe SCUBA practices.
There is nothing more iconic to Scuba diving in Southern California than the visual of swimming amongst the towering kelp forests near Catalina Island. And it’s in this idyllic setting where Satomi Aihara first fell in love with Scuba. Diving in the cold, clear waters off Catalina, she took her first dive of her Open Water certification class and has never looked back. Satomi currently trains as a professional diver so that one day soon she can share her passion as an instructor to a new generation of divers. As a translator and interpreter for Japanese and English in the video game industry, Satomi hopes to one day travel the world and experience new diving adventures.