Diving: Go pro with PADI freediving courses

PHUKET: The branding and professional support provided by PADI, as it moves into the freediving industry with an entire set of courses specific to the sport, looks to create new opportunities for those wanting to become professional freediving instructors.

PADI has a massive background in marketing and supporting businesses, which means that a sustainable career in freediving will likely become more feasible” says Richard Wonka, co-owner with Sarah Whitcher of the Phuket-based Freediving Instructor Training Center, ‘We Freedive’.

Though at a glance it might seem that interested, knowledgeable scuba diving instructors will be prime candidates for becoming freediving instructors, the physiological effects of the two sports make it unsafe for an instructor to teach scuba diving one day and freediving the next.

Because of this, PADI vowed to give the same kind of business support and promotion it provides to scuba schools to the new PADI freediving schools, which will have no association with the scuba diving side of the industry.

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The first such school in Asia is destined to be Phuket’s We Freedive, confirmed Andy Auer, PADI Thailand West Coast regional manager.

“The marketing support of PADI and the PADI brand is very strong. If you put their logo somewhere, it really means something,” Mr Auer said.

To jump start the program, PADI is making it easy to move from other certifying agencies, marking a significant change in approach by encouraging this crossover for scuba instructors.

“It’s very easy for instructors to adapt to that kind of environment and teach this program. So what we have now are instructors from other training organizations wanting to cross over and teach the PADI freediving course, because the materials are great and it’s up-to-date. It’s the newest in the market,” Mr Auer said. “We’ve made it easy for people to cross over. They just have to take the PADI orientation, show us proof of experience and that they are already an instructor with another organization. And basically that’s it.”

PADI scuba diving instructors, who are looking to make changes in their career path, are able to get the entry-level freediving instructor certification by taking the first two of three student-level freediving courses.

Dive masters and assistant scuba diving instructors are also able to obtain their freediving instructor certification by completing all three student-level freediving courses.

However, these are just for receiving your PADI freediver instructor certification, which authorizes you to teach the PADI Basic Freediving course. Those wanting to teach the advanced course need to be a PADI advanced freediving instructor and those wanting to teach the master freediver course, must be PADI master freediver instructors,” Mr Auer said.

We have an enormous database, so when we send a message out it goes to some 22 million people. There will certainly be a percentage of those people who want to explore this sport with PADI, which should lead to increased opportunities for certified PADI freediving instructors.”

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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