557 Milwaukee Street
Denver, Colorado 80206

Meet The Scuba Staff

Wendelinus Benjamin

SSI Instructor Trainer
POSEIDON Rebreather Instructor
SDI/TDI Instructor
DAN Basic Life Support & First Aid Instructor
DAN Advanced Oxygen First Aid Instructor
Training Director

Born in Indonesia, Wendel was born to dive! His love of traveling and the ocean led him to dedicate his life to teaching others about the wonder and beauty of the underwater world. Wendel has been affiliated with Denver Divers since 1995 and he is currently an owner and Training Director for the organization.

Wendel is also a Poseidon VII Rebreather Instructor, TDI/SDI Instructor, a TDI Nitrox Blender, a ScubaPro Technician, and a Sea Signs Instructor. He has been diving all over the world – Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Bonaire, California, Fiji, Florida, Hawaii, Bay Islands Honduras, Cayman Islands, Indonesia, Martinique, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, and Turks & Caicos. Wendel can teach you almost anything and talk about diving almost anywhere!

Wendel received his B.A. in Business from Metropolitan State College in Denver.


Ali Miller

SSI Dive Control Specialist Instructor
SSI Freediving Instructor
Dive Travel Manager

Ali Miller wore her first mask and snorkel when she was 18 months old. She was certified at the age of 14 in Roatan, Honduras, and went to college in California to be close to the ocean. She is using her degree in Environmental Studies to develop a number of ecological SCUBA and snorkeling programs for Denver Divers, of which she is now an owner.

Ali has been employed at Denver Divers since she graduated from University of Redlands in 2005. She received her MBA from the University of Colorado, Denver in 2014, and is now using her skills to help Denver Divers succeed. Ali is also President of the Colorado Retailers Association.  In that position she spearheaded the "Blue the Dive" initiative launched in November 2013.

Ali embodies the Vision of Denver Divers. “If we let people discover the beauty of the oceans, they’ll protect them for future generations.“


Eric Esser

SSI Dive Control Specialist Instructor
Service/Repair Technician

Esser began his diving career in 1996 in the unlikely location of Puerto Vallarta while vacationing with his family. He dove for several years before he began his dive leader training in early 1999, obtaining his Dive Control Specialist Instructor rating in 2002. Eric now enjoys diving with his wife, Beth, and family whenever possible and finds great satisfaction in introducing his passion to new divers at Denver Divers. He is very even-tempered and kind - a great instructor!

In Eric’s other life he is a manager at a manufacturing company that produces bedding.  He made the bean bag chairs and Sage's bed at Denver Divers - the only dog in the world with a memory foam bed! Eric was born and raised in Colorado and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a finance degree.


John Route

SSI Dive Control Specialist Instructor
SDI/TDI Instructor
DAN Basic Life Support & First Aid Instructor
DAN Advanced Oxygen First Aid Instructor
Service/Repair Technician

Certified in 1992, John Route has logged over 400 dives in both salt and fresh water throughout the world. He earned his Dive Control Specialist in 1997, followed by his Open Water Instructor Certification in 1999.

He teaches a variety of specialty courses including First Aid, Dan O2, Night Diving, Wreck Diving, Stress and Rescue Diving, Dry Suit Diving, Nitrox (both SSI and TDI), and Deep Diving. As Denver Divers builds its technical diving program, John will join David Beebe, Leif Skaar, Nelson Paynter, and Eric Evert in pursuing increasing training and expertise in this extreme version of scuba diving.

John uses his technical skills on another front as a data center manager for a disaster recovery data center. He earned two bachelor’s degrees from Regis University and recently received a Master's Degree in Project Management. He dotes on his Golden Retriever - Butch!


Nelson Paynter

SSI Dive Control Specialist Instructor
Technical Diving Director
SDI/TDI Instructor
TDI Advanced Nitrox Instructor
TDI Technical Decompression Procedures Instructor

The best-kept secret about Nelson Paynter is that he went to Brigham Young University on a football scholarship, receiving his B.A. in History and Spanish. Nelson started diving in the early 80’s, was certified as SSI Open Water Instructor in 2001 and as a Dive Control Specialist Instructor in 2006.

As the owner of Front Range Decorative Concrete Company, Nelson is refinishing the floors at Denver Divers as well as teaching frequently. He has experience diving all over the world at sites including Cozumel, Sea of Cortez, Fiji, Hawaii, California, Florida, Caribbean, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, Australia, and the Bahamas. 

After spending years as the dive shop's "most eligible bachelor," Nelson recently remarried.  He is a father of five and has several grandchildren.


David Beebe

SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor

David Beebe started diving in 2000, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Then – on his third trip ever – he dove with four whale sharks and was hooked!

Since then he has earned advanced instructor ratings including Navigation, Wreck Diving, Computer, Stress and Rescue, Deep Diving, Night Diving, and Limited Visibility Diving – all enhancing his instructor certification. David has continued his training in the realm of technical diving and is certified in Nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, and Decompression Procedures. He is also an avid underwater photographer.

David has a B.S. in Business from Miami University (Ohio). To pay for his passion, he designs and installs commercial kitchens.


John Sherman

SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor
Service and Rental Manager

John started diving in the late 1970s with some of the industry's legends. He learned then that there are no rules in scuba diving - something he has had to unlearned as one of Denver Divers most prolific instructors. He is also an instructor for a variety of specialties including Navigation, Wreck Diving, Computer, Stress and Rescue, Deep Diving, Night Diving and Limited Visibility Diving, and. of course, Equipment Techniques.

John pursued several careers before he found his true calling full time at Denver Divers. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Finance from the University of Colorado. He has over 600 dives and continues to lead trips for the shop.


David Gilbreth

SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor
POSEIDON VII Rebreather Instructor
SSI Nitrox Instructor

David Gilbreth started his diving journey in 1999. Realizing his passion for SCUBA, he made the transition to Dive Professional in 2000 and is currently an Advanced Instructor with more than 500 dives.  David is also a POSEIDON rebreather instructor.  To finance his passion, David does automated performance engineering for a financial services company.


Glenn Tucker

SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor
SSI Scuba Rangers Instructor

Glenn Tucker started his diving career in 1989, doing his certification dives at a dive location that’s good as it gets – Heron Island on the Australian Great Barrier Reef. Glenn subsequently earned all his advanced degrees through Denver Divers, earning his SSI Dive Control Specialist certification in 1999 and his Instructor Certification in 2005.

Glenn has helped customers and students on the retail floor and teaches several special specialty classes, including underwater photography. He served five years as a volunteer diver at Colorado’s Ocean Journey and is an active member of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation.

Glenn’s goal is to go on at least three dive trips a year with Denver Divers. “My ultimate diving goal is to spend three or four months exploring the great dive sites of the South Pacific islands.”


Michael Baclawski

SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor

Born and raised in Denver, Michael had his first taste of salt water surfing as a student at San Diego State University. Open Water certified in 1992, Michael went to Australia to earn his Advanced Diver certification. Michael worked in the U.S. Antarctic Program for five seasons as part of the Hyperbaric Medical Team. He volunteered to serve as surface support for research divers under the Antarctic sea ice. He has traveled to all seven continents, diving in most of the Earth’s oceans along the way.

“I gain a great deal of satisfaction when I see new and seasoned divers have an “ah ha” moment, achieve something they thought they couldn’t, or become filled with a sense of wonder.” – Michael B



Eric Evert

SSI Open Water Instructor

As a little guy, Eric Evert decided he would be Jacque Costeau. To practice, he would lie on the bottom of the local public pool blowing bubbles, panicking more than one lifeguard! He started diving in earnest in 2000 at Denver Divers. For his open water certification, Eric went to Cozumel. Two days after coming back, he bought all his own gear. He was convinced that diving would be a life-long endeavor. Eric became a Dive Control Specialist in 2003
and received his Instructor certification at the end of August 2010.

Born Lincoln, Nebraska, Eric is still a Huskers fan. You can also find him parked in front of “Larry, the Cable Guy!” He originally moved to Colorado as a part of the U.S. Olympic shooting team, making it to the 1996 trials in Atlanta, before discovering scuba as his primary passion. Eric received his bachelor’s degree in food science from the University of Nebraska for food science major and completed a Colorado Institute of Art for Culinary Arts advanced degree.

He explains his love of diving. “As in life, the ocean offers endless possibilities.”


Mark Mulligan

SSI Dive Master Instructor

Mark has been fortunate to dive around the world from the Caribbean to the South Pacific but he loves the Aurora Reservoir best of all. In addition to working with students Mark is also a certified technical and free diver. A native of Baltimore, he now calls Denver home and when not in the shop Mark can be found either hiking up or skiing down one of Colorado’s many mountains. He is an avid triathlete and two-time Ironman.
Mark is a CPA with an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, and an MBA from the University of Maryland.   

Heather Jergensen

SSI Dive Control Specialist
SSI Scuba Rangers Instructor

Since receiving her Open Water Certification in 2002, Heather has logged mostly Caribbean dives. She has always loved the water and in much younger days, Heather competed as a swimmer (and tried on her parents dive gear when they weren’t looking). Although an equal passion for music briefly pulled her from the water, her recent return to diving rejuvenated her love for the sport and sparked a desire to pursue instructor training. Heather has been an instructor for several children’s programs including Kindermusik, Children’s Choir, and Starfish Swim School. Therefore it seems a natural progression for her to join the Denver Divers crew as a Scuba Rangers Instructor and Dive Control Specialist.

Heather’s “real job” is stay-at-home mom to an exuberant 2-year-old boy. When the Colorado weather forces indoor activity, Heather takes her son to the Downtown Aquarium to test her Fish ID skills.

Heather holds a BA in Vocal Music from the University of Colorado in Boulder and an MA in Arts Administration from Golden Gate University.


Gregory Oberley

SSI Dive Control Specialist

Greg Oberley’s professional life revolves around water. As an executive with the Environmental Protection Agency in Region 8, Greg’s expertise is water use. As a dive professional, Greg’s interests include Carribean diving and underwater photography. As Denver Divers develops an underwater photography program, Greg’s photography knowledge will be invaluable.

Greg has experience diving some unusual spots still close to Denver. Ask him about diving the Socorro Islands (Revillagigedos Islands) in Baja Mexico; Mahaual and Banko Chinchoro in Mexico on the border with Belize; and the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound.

He received his B.S. in Geology at the University of Southern Colorado and his M.S. in Environmental Science at the University of Colorado.


Lin Szydlo

SSI Dive Control Specialist

Lin learned to dive in 2004 and quickly became addicted to breathing underwater. Her passion led her to become Denver Divers’ first SSI Master Diver in 2006. In 2008, Lin was certified as an SDI Solo Diver – another first.

DDuring surface intervals Lin likes to hike, read, bike and explore our western wilderness. She also volunteers at a Denver cat shelter. To support her habits, Lin works in mortgage banking.

She claims she got “hooked” on scuba diving in Cozumel and returns frequently.


Brittany Miller

SSI Dive Control Specialist
SSI Scuba Rangers Instructor

Brittany had no option besides learning how to dive! When she was two years old, she started going on dive boats with her family. As soon as she was old enough, she got certified on a family vacation.

Naturally Brittany went to the only school in the United States that boasted year-round scuba diving and non-stop sunshine – the University of Miami. There she found her true passion and has been pursuing it in one form or another ever since. She came home to pursue he PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Denver.


Phillip Bell

SSI Dive Control Specialist

Phillip Bell learned to dive at Denver Divers and earned his Dive Control Specialist certification in 2004. Phil has recently applied his Colorado School of Mines engineering degree to further his understanding of technical diving and underwater photography. He has earned certifications in ten SSI advanced classes since 2002, and continues to dive whenever he has a chance.


dive instructorSandy Martin

SSI Dive Control Specialist

Sandy Martin received her Dive Control Specialist certification after years of study and loyalty to her task in the midst of the last ownership change at Denver Divers. Since January 2001, Sandy has been diving in the waters of Bonaire, Belize, the Florida Keys, Little Cayman, Cozumel, Saba, St. Martin, the Channel Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Tanzania, the Maldives, Palau, Thailand, and the Galapagos.

Sandy is a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado (AMC). She received her bachelor’s degree in human biology and her PhD in biochemisty.


Wade Welch

SSI Dive Control Specialist
SSI Scuba Rangers Instructor

After taking a short break from diving to greet his new baby son, Wade has returned to his teaching role at Denver Divers. Wade was originally certified in 2001 and has tucked more than 300 dives under his belt since then. Among the many dive sites Wade has frequented throughout the Carribean, Roatan remains his favorite destination.

Wade attended Colorado State University and currently serves as a Sales Representative for Atrium Windows.


Bonnie Sherman

SSI Scuba Rangers Instructor
Scuba Rangers Club Coordinator/Manager

Bonnie often calls herself a “corporate refugee.” Being a dive shop owner is a whole new career for her. As does co-owner Carl Miller, Bonnie spent the bulk of her professional life in health administration. She spent 12 years building the children’s insurance program – Child Health Plan Plus – followed by eight more years as an executive and certified project manager for a variety of payor organizations including United HealthCare. She has a master’s in health administration.

Since daughters and shop co-owners Ali and Brittany Miller each learned to dive as soon as was legally possible, “recreating Denver Divers’ Scuba Rangers program was a natural step.”


Judith Persoff

SSI Dive Control Specialist
SSI Scuba Rangers Instructor

Judi became certified in 2002 and now, with over 220 dives, she enjoys traveling to explore new dive sites. Some of her favorite spots range from Cozumel to Fiji, Yap and Palau. The Galapagos were certainly on top of her bucket list. Judi enjoys underwater photography and fish ID.

Judi has worked extensively with children for most of her professional career. For a time, she was a Recreation Therapist and worked with teens in a treatment setting. After going back to school to complete her doctorate in Educational Psychology, she obtained a teaching certificate for working with young children having special needs. Judi sees the Scuba Rangers program as a great introduction for kids to the fun and exciting world of diving.


Patti Vickers

Dive Control Specialist

Patti received her Open Water Diver certification in 2006 with her husband, Corky. She received her Dive Control Specialist certification in 2011. Patti loves diving and has been to several locations in the Caribbean and Hawaii. Patti’s life was focused on raising her two kids and seeing them start their own families. Now she can’t wait to see her five grandkids learn to dive!


Corky Vickers

Advanced Open Water Instructor

“After the kids left home, my wife and I decided to find something we would enjoy doing together. Since we both love the ocean, scuba seemed like a good fit”. Corky and his wife Patti received their Open Water Diver certifications in 2006. Corky’s passion for learning and teaching led him to his Dive Control Specialist certification in 2008, followed by his Open Water Instructor certification in 2009.

Corky is now an Advanced Instructor and is certified to teach several specialties including Navigation, Night and Limited Visibility, Deep Diving, Stress and Rescue, Nitrox Diving, Science of Diving, and Computer Diving. Corky is also certified as a Scubapro service technician and a TDI Nitrox Blender.

Corky received a degree in Chemical Engineering from Texas Tech University and has worked in the oil and gas industry for over 30 years. He joins Denver Divers after teaching for Gobe Divers.


Page Fagan

Dive Control Specialist

Page was born and raised in Wyoming and has always been fascinated by diving. He first pursued scuba certification in the early 70’s but took a detour for marriage and raising a family. He has doubled back in with a vengeance with dives in Cozumel (repeatedly), Grand Cayman, Roatan Honduras, Florida and Hawaii in the last couple of years. Page is a Dive Control Specialist, a trimix rebreather diver, a trimix gas blender and is working on his advanced wreck diving certification.

Page served on city council in his home town of Casper Wyoming, worked for over a decade for a technology consulting firm and taught secondary math and science in Wyoming and Montana. He holds a current Wyoming teaching certificate as well as B.S. degrees in construction management, education and mathematics and a Masters in mathematics. Page is excited to be able to contribute to people discovering the amazing world of diving.


Vince Phelan

SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor
SSI Silver 300 Instructor with 3,857 or more logged dives
Full Face Piece Instructor with PSSI (Public Safety Scuba Instructors)

Vince Phalan brings a welcome wealth of experience and knowledge about rescue diving to Denver Divers. He is a 27-year veteran of the Denver Fire Department and a Public Safety Scuba Instructor through Dive Rescue International in Ft. Collins. In that capacity, he teaches Under-Ice Diving; Confined Space Diving, Underwater Search and Rescue, Over-Ice Rescue, and Dry Suit Diving.

Ironically, Vince was originally certified at Denver Divers in the early 1980s through NASDS, a precursor agency to SSI. By way of Gobe Divers, Vince returns to Denver Divers as an Advanced Open Water Instructor certified through SSI. He has logged more than 1900 dives.

Vince has not limited himself to cold, dark, wet places! He has also been diving in Hawaii, Guam, Truk, Mexico, Belize, South America, and both coasts of the US. “I plan to continue to dive for a long time by making it a big part of my retirement,” Vince reports.



Erin Shockey

SSI Dive Control Specialist
SSI Scuba Rangers Instructor

Erin was SSI certified in 2004 and enjoyed her first trip to Cozumel shortly after. She took some time off and began diving again in 2010 in Belize where the bug bit her. When she came back she contacted Denver Divers and immediately began the Dive Control Specialist program. She enjoys anytime she can be in the water and loves helping students through their open water classes and updates.

When she isn’t in the water she enjoys other outdoor activities such as hiking. In her professional life she is a Business Intelligence developer.

Carl Miller

Service Tech Manager

Carl Miller, partner and member of the ownership family, began diving in 1980 with the original Colorado Scuba Den when it first opened. He and wife Bonnie Sherman were certified in Roatan when the island was practically deserted. Carl has lived in Denver for most of his adult life. He was an editor and political columnist for The Denver Post for nearly 20 years. Later he was vice president of government relations, public policy and regulatory compliance for Colorado Blue Cross and Blue Shield for two decades. He retired shortly before the family purchased Denver Divers in 2009.