PADI Freediver kickstarted in Fiji

1 May

“Fiji is one of those holy grail freediving locations where you have perfect conditions for depth training and stunning aquatic ecosystems to play around. I was surprised at the health of the coral and the marine life in general. The local Fijians were so welcoming and accommodating, just as they’re reputed to be. It’s become a place I’ll always return to”.  

– Adam Stern, PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer and PADI AmbassaDiver

Freediving in the Blue

PADI AmbassaDiver Adam Stern visited Fiji for the first time in early April to train PADI Freedivers and kick start training in the area. 13 PADI Instructors from around Fiji came together to complete some training with the 4 x Australian record holder.

The Instructors completed their PADI Freediver and Advanced Freediver courses, gaining additional training and tips to meet the prerequisites to apply for their PADI Freediver Instructor rating.

PADI Freediver Instructors

Adam was joined by 2 other Instructors who assisted on this programme. Bryan Bailey and Mitch Bennett.

Here is what PADI Advanced Freedving Instructor Bryan Bailey from one of New Zealand’s Freediver Centres, Blenheim Dive Centre, had to say about the training:

“Bula! I would like to congratulate and thank Jen Clent and PADI for organizing Fiji’s first PADI Freedive Instructor program which took place on the beautiful Coral Coast of Viti levu, Fijis main island. I enjoyed immensely instructing alongside Adam Stern and freediving with the Fijian instructor candidates in the warm crystal clear waters with sharks, dolphins and turtles. The freediving ability of the Fijian candidates was already very high having grown up swimming and diving in such perfect conditions. With the extra skills they have been passed on they will make excellent freediving instructors. Bula Vinaka”

Freediving in the reef

Mike Agnew had this to say about the course:

“It really started way back with the movie The Big Blue. For decades, there was a niggling thought in the back of the mind that I really was meant to be a dolphin. Then came PADI, promoting their Freediver courses, and I was hooked. 

Our Regional Manager Jen Clent organized a Freediver Instructor programme for Fiji. The course itself was brilliant. No other word for it. Adam was the ultimate professional, reminding us again and again to keep within our comfort level and enjoy ourselves. Our skills improved remarkably over the 5 days. He was an instructor to emulate, performing amazing feats with some of us students that had difficulties in some areas.

His two assistants for the course, Bryan Bailey from Blenheim Dive Centre and Mitch Bennett continued Adam’s calm philosophy of staying within your comfort zone and enjoying yourself, and were both fish-like compared to most of us clumsy, brick like swimmers.

So now my descent line is marked, my safety lanyard is made, and I can’t wait to get my hands on my first students!

Vinaka Adam, Bryan and Mitch!”

Divers on the Line

Jodie Bly –  “The course was exhilarating, scary but within my comfort zone, challenging and rewarding, practical and physical, seriousness with fun, competitive camaraderie. Adam and his team were awesome being both encouraging and patient, with lots of sound advice and suggestions.  It was not as hard as I thought it would be and being able to hold my breath for 3 minutes and 10 seconds was amazing, I never thought that would be possible for me.  Loved every second of it”.

Divers on the line and above

Ashwin Pal – “The first time I heard there would be a PADI Freediver course to be held in Fiji I was very excited and could not wait to start the course. I have always done freediving and spearfishing but have always wondered what I can do to extend my breath hold times and depth. The first day of my PADI Freediver course I learnt the different techniques of breathing to extend breath hold times. I would say I was an average student but with Adam, Mitch and Bryan’s help I could easily reach my goals. The entire PADI Freediver programme was very interesting and loads of fun. Now I can teach PADI Freediver courses, gain teaching experience and can’t wait to move on the next level of PADI Advanced Freediver. A big vinaka vakalevu (thank you) to Adam, Mitch and Bryan for taking the time coming to Fiji to help us Fijians becoming a PADI Freediver Instructors”.

Bryan ascending

Lani & Josh – “We loved the PADI Freediver programme. Adam is wonderful, very knowledgeable and extremely infectious. I found the training very challenging but in a good way. As a scuba diver I have always thought I was connected to my body but the freediver course taught me to develop this much much further. The techniques Adam taught us really helped build on our experience, understand why our bodies react in certain ways and how to communicate this to our future students.

Scuba diving for me is amazing, but less challenging as time goes on, I feel as though this course and certification has really opened up a whole new world, one that is just really taking off, I am so excited to be a part of it. It’s a new reason to get in the water, to view the underwater world from a new perspective, an exciting new way to challenge myself and a rewarding sport to teach”.

Lani

Karen Koens – “Super human Adam Stern, was strongly supported by Bryan and Mitch, who are both outstanding humans and Instructors themselves. The generosity from them to ensure PADI Freediver was brought to Fiji, and to give the locals a once in a lifetime opportunity was enthusiastically received by those of us fortunate to attend the course. Since then, my company Subsurface Fiji has become a PADI Freediver Centre. We are looking forward to help Fiji develop as a recognised and respected Freediving destination”.

Stefan Janjic – “Before starting the course I only had experience in “aggressive snorkelling” as Adam phrased it throughout our training sessions. I had managed to reach a maximum depth on a breath-hold dive of roughly 15 meters. With two days in a pool, and my second day in open water I went from being able to reach 15 meters as a difficult max to comfortably descending 26.5 meters, with only the reef as the limiting factor. I was even able to make a rescue from 15 meters, my former maximum in a calm and comfortable manner. The essential knowledge and skills I learned to train my mind and body to go deeper, coupled with how to deal with any potential risks in the sport gave me the confidence I needed to teach freediving. I am incredibly excited to start teaching this new water sport, and add to the list of ocean activities that we can offer at Kai Wai Ocean Sports”.

With such enthusiasm and passion for Fiji and it’s beautiful underwater paradise I can’t wait to see this destination develop and be added to every freedivers bucket-list!

After the training concluded Adam and Bryan spent a few days exploring the islands. Adam created a short video of his adventures on one breath which you can watch here.

For information on PADI Freediver, how to get involved or become a PADI Freediver Instructor, visit PADI.com.

All photos credited to Adam Stern.

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