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believe Ms. Shirley Lee to be the first certified
African American female diver. Shirley was born
and raised in Alexandria, Virginia where she resides
today. She was an athletic child who loved the water.
She became an excellent swimmer, and she worked
as a lifeguard during the summer at area pools.
Shirley’s passion for sports extends to downhill
skiing, bowling, biking and roller skating.
1965, she met Dr. Jose’ Jones and asked him
to teach her to dive. She became the first female
diver of the Underwater Adventure Seekers (USA)
in 1966. She received her basic certification in
1965. Ms. Lee has logged over 1,000 dives for which
she received the PADI “1,000 Dive” pin.
Her underwater adventures have taken her to such
exotic destinations as Mexico, Jamaica, Egypt, Morocco,
Curacao, Haiti, Bermuda, Borneo, Belize and Malaysia.
Ms. Shirley Lee is the most publicized female African-American
scuba diver in America. Shirley Lee has been featured
in several magazines and books: Ebony magazine in
September 1988, Ebony EM in October 1989, “
The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie” in 1998
and “Spirit Dive” in 1999 by Michael
H. Cottman, and “How They Got Over: African
Americans and the Call of the Sea” in 2003
by Eloise Greenfield. In 1972, Shirley took first
place in the Atlantic Skin Diving Council Rodeo,
Women’s Category. She also placed first in
the Women’s Division free diving, Middle Atlantic
Spear fishing Championship. In 1999, Shirley received
the Lifetime Service Award from the Underwater Adventure
Seekers at its 40th Anniversary Celebration. She
won first place in the UAS Swim for Fitness program
in 2001 by swimming a total of 44 miles in 4 months.
Shirley was a member of the committee of UAS which
organized and sponsored the first summit in Washington,
DC which officially launched the National Association
of Black Scuba Divers. She is still an active and
member of UAS.