Andersen Airman: 20 millionth PADI certified diver worldwide Published Oct. 10, 2011 By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker 36th Wing Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- One of the seven wonders of the natural world, Australia's Great Barrier Reef is arguably the most renowned scuba diving location on earth. Each year, thousands of tourists flock to the Pacific for an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of this historic landmark first-hand. This year, one member of Team Andersen will be joining their ranks after being dealt a particularly sweet hand by lady luck. Second Lt. Alexandra Swanson, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Engineering Flight project programmer, was recently awarded a weeklong trip for two to the Great Barrier Reef after becoming the recipient of the 20 millionth Professional Association of Diving Instructors Open Water Diver course certification Sept. 4. Lieutenant Swanson, a recent Air Force Academy graduate and California native, arrived on Guam in late July and welcomed the opportunity to get reacquainted with the ocean. "I have always loved the water, no matter what shape or form it comes in," she said. "I learned to swim when I was two; my dad was an old windsurfer and he would take me out on his board when I was young. He wanted me to have the same love for the water and adventure as he did." Though a family move put an early end to her love affair with the water, Lieutenant Swanson's desire to explore and discover remained unchanged and as a young cadet she set out to see what the world had to offer. "It wasn't until five years ago when I began traveling in college that I realized I wanted to start diving," she said. "It appealed to me for the same reasons that traveling does: you get to glimpse a whole new side of the world that most other people are completely unaware of." The PADI Open Water Diver course is among the most popular scuba certification courses in the world and consists of classroom teaching modules in addition to hands-on training with a PADI Instructor. On Andersen, Guam Tropical Dive Station has partnered with Outdoor Recreation to offer all the educational materials and diving equipment necessary to become a certified diver and to pursue higher levels of open water certification. According to the 36th Force Support Squadron website, classroom and pool training is conveniently located on base and includes a PADI crew pack, instruction, a buoyancy control device, a regulator and air. Since attaining her goal of becoming a certified open water diver, Lieutenant Swanson has not shied away from exploration in this new frontier. With her trip to the Great Barrier Reef on the horizon, the new diver intends to do more than just get her feet wet. "When I arrived here I thought the location was perfect for traveling to some unique places on this side of the world," the lieutenant said. "But I never would have imagined that simply by pursuing and reaching a personal goal, I would have the chance to visit Australia and explore one of the wonders of the world. I am very grateful and I intend to take full advantage of this rare opportunity." For more information on Andersen's Dive Shop visit the 36 FSS website at www.36fss.com or call 366-6975.