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Mary Free Bed and West Michigan Adaptive Diving hold diving clinic

Mary Free Bed innovation bring together rehabilitation and diving.
Underwriting support from:

Contact Information:

Beverly Smith, President
Tim Marr, Vice President
West Michigan Adaptive Diving Inc.
531 E. Main Avenue
Zeeland, MI 49464
Phone: 616-777-0088

[email protected]


Christy VanHaver, C.T.R.S.
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
235 Wealthy SE  Grand Rapids  MI  49503
Phone: 616-356-1880

[email protected]



Dive Briefing

Dive Briefing /Joy Sanders

Team preparing for next group of divers

Team preparing for next group of divers /Joy Sanders

Preparing for dive

Preparing for dive /Joy Sanders

As one of the few rehabilitation hospitals in Michigan, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital offers unique services to the Grand Rapids area. As Mary Free Bed’s website states, it “strives for excellence, collaborates to achieve results, and embraces innovation.” One of these innovations was developed in conjunction with West Michigan Adaptive Diving, a collaboration that brings SCUBA’s unique experience to Mary Free Bed participants. The adaptive diving clinic is offered annually in October to any clinic participant. The program offers the weightless relief of the water and the rare exposure to an adaptive SCUBA program.

The Adaptive Diving program originated seven years ago when Tim Marr of Altek Sport and SCUBA in Zeeland approached Mary Free Bed about a SCUBA workshop. According to Tim, “We gave them our pitch and got shot down by the lawyers.” Four years later, with the legal aspect resolved, Mary Free Bed contacted Altek to inform it that it was ready to proceed with the program. “What program?” Tim exclaimed! After four years Tim was sure there was no hope in satisfying the legal requirements.

Tim recruited a select group of experienced divers to go through the intensive training program to earn the credentials to be dive buddies with the clinic participants. The training consisted of twenty classroom hours studying anatomy, the nature of injuries, the capabilities and limitations of those with disabilities and the physical effects of the depth and pressure of water. Another twenty hours was hands on pool training which encompassed learning how to handle each disability while working with the person in the water. “The key is to know how not to do any more damage to their bodies. We don’t know everything, but we are still learning,” Tim remarked.  

The Adaptive Diving program with Mary Free Bed became active three years ago. “The goal of the Adaptive program is to get people in the pool and give them an experience that they may never have,” Tim said.

Tim Marr and Beverley Smith founded the non-profit West Michigan Adaptive Diving to teach a SCUBA to anyone who is willing to participate. “West Michigan Adaptive Diving exists to help people who others have placed limits on realize there are no limits,” Beverley commented.

More and more people are finding it is therapeutic. “I think it is an up and coming thing. I think you will see a lot more of it,” Tim said.

If you are interested in more information or would like to contribute to the organization or participate in this activity, contact Beverly Smith or Tim Marr at, [email protected] or by phone, 616-777-0088.

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