The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

August 7, 2009

Going deep: Scuba diver utilizes hobby to repair leaky pools

Tom Menna grew up in Massachusetts, just 35 minutes from Cape Cod’s magnificent shores.

But the lure of the unexplored depths of the Atlantic Ocean in his backyard did not lead him to learn to scuba dive.

It wasn’t until after moving to Johnstown in 1982 – hundreds of miles inland – that he was hit with the desire to explore the deep.

Scuba diving lessons were a birthday present from his wife, Chris.

“I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie,” the 49-year-old Menna said. “It was either skydiving or scuba diving and she figured it was the safer of the two.

“I took a class up at Pitt-Johnstown, got certified, and then, I got hooked.”

Although Menna and his diving buddies go on shark dives and explore wrecks, the Westmont resident has found a way to put his hobby to good use right here at home.

He puts his skill and equipment to work locating and patching leaky swimming pools.

Donning his scuba gear, he dives to the bottom of a problem pool for a visual inspection.

After he finds the source of the leak, he repairs it – typically with a vinyl patch.

Menna recalled his most unusual repair job.

“I got called out in the middle of winter to go to a farm in Portage,” he said.

“The ice had frozen over on the (in-ground) pool and a cow had walked across the top of the pool and fell in and drowned.

“They called me up and said, ‘Can you get the cow out of pool?’ ”

Menna’s job that day was to get straps around the bovine so a tractor could pull it out of the water.

Of course, pool repair is not exactly a full-time job in these parts. It really just provides a bit of extra cash for scuba equipment, but it allows Menna to explore the deep – even if it’s a swimming pool only 5 feet deep.

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