Rosalia (Zale) Parry, one of the world's foremost women skin divers, might never have donned breathing apparatus had she not fallen in love. At 22, good-looking Zale holds the world skin-diving depth record for women—209 feet. But until she met Parry Bivens, 28, an aeronautical and aquatic engineer, Zale had never thought about the sport. Parry (there is nothing in the similarity of names) had been diving since childhood, and Zale took it up to be with him. They met while both were working for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, Calif., and their first dates occurred six to 10 fathoms underwater off Santa Catalina Island. Zale took an immediate liking to skin diving ("You get sort of tingly all over and you feel good").
After hunting lobsters in the comparative shallows for a while, Zale prevailed on Parry to teach her the intricacies of deep diving. She spent long hours training in a swimming pool and in her nonswimming hours she devoured dozens of books on the perils of nitrogen narcosis—drunkenness of the depths—and embolism and "the bends"—results of too swift an ascent from great depths. Zale made her successful record attempt last August, deciding to try only the night before. Parry hastily arranged for a tugboat and got the Coast Guard to officiate. Zale went into the water completely equipped, wearing a swimsuit, three woollen sweaters, long Navy underwear, rubber diving suit, swim fins, weight belt, face plate and lung. She descended on a marked rope, to which was attached at 209 feet a slate and crayon. Parry accompanied her, pinching her at intervals to make sure she was all right. Zale hit bottom, spelled "Z-A-L-E" on the slate with the crayon and the record was hers.
Zale and Parry are now testing themselves for depths of 330 feet plus in the pressure chamber he has built in the backyard of his Mandeville Canyon home. Zale is certain she can master the difficulties of pressure and break her own mark.