My PADI Story: Aurovici Sercomanens, PADI Freediver Instructor and PADI Freediver Center Owner

PADI Freediver Instructor™, Aurovici Sercomanens, has had a fascinating journey from completing his first freediving course in 2017 to opening the first PADI Freediver™ Center, Epic Freediving, in India in 2018. We asked Aurovici about his passionate journey from his first freediving experience, to opening his own PADI Freediver Center and what we can expect from him in the future.

PADI - Freediver - Freediver Instructor - Pool

What made you want to start freediving?

Like many, I was greatly touched after watching Luc Besson’s film, Grand Blue. The film was spectacular and actually introduced me into the world of freediving. Over the next few years, I started seeing freediving courses offered in India but at the time I was scared that I had to be an elite athlete with a special gift, so I was hesitant to sign up. Then in 2012, I decided that I wanted to give the course a go and learn the sport of freediving. I quickly learnt that I didn’t need to have a special gift and instead, I just needed to be patient and passionate. Unfortunately, there was nothing offered in India at that time and with travelling not being an option for me, I had to wait. In 2017 I was finally able to complete my first freediving course which was held in India. This is where I truly fell in love with the sport.

How did you start training to become a PADI Freediver Instructor?

I travelled to Bali to train at a large freediving camp, an event where freedivers from around the world spend seven days freediving and training, and this is where I met Sergey. Sergey was a PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer and the PADI Freediver Center owner of Crystal Freediving in Koh Tao. It was here that I decided to also become a PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer and open my own school for freediving in Auroville, India – my home town. In April 2018, I headed off to Koh Tao to Sergey’s PADI Freediver Center to undertake my PADI Master Freediver and PADI Freediving Instructor Training courses. It took a few months to train and develop my static, dynamic and depth skills, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Why did you decide to open the first PADI Freediver Center in Auroville, India?

After finishing my instructor course I returned to India to the city of Auroville, to open my own PADI Freediver Center, Epic Freediving. Auroville was founded by Mira Alfassa (known as ‘the Mother’) in 1968 on the principle of being a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose being to realize humanity. Auroville currently has a population of around 2,800 people from around the world. In 1966 UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution commending it as a project of importance to the future of humanity.

I knew that I wanted to develop freediving in India and work with PADI, so it made sense to take the next step and register Epic Freediving as the first PADI Freediver Center in India. India is very big and surely has many great places to freedive. Therefore, I consider myself fortunate to have access to fresh water bodies deeper than 30 meters. Although Auroville is my home town, there are simply no words that can describe it. Only by visiting will you be able to see and experience its beauty.

What’s next for you?

Well, freediving is still unknown in India so there is a lot more work that needs to be done. I would like to help develop the freediving culture and make the sport more known amongst the local community. Also, India doesn’t have any Freediving Instructor Trainers, so I plan on fixing this by becoming a PADI Instructor Trainer in two years’ time – if all goes according to plan!

What does ‘My PADI’ mean to you?

To me, My PADI means excellence, discovery, education and conservation.

Aurovici Sercomanens - PADI Freediver Instructor

Want to become a PADI Freediver Instructor like Aurovici?

Learn more about the PADI Freediver Instructor course or find your local PADI Freediver Center and start exploring the fascinating world of freediving.

PADI First Responder in Action – Dilshan Nanayakkara

Being PADI Professionals, we are all aware of the importance of Emergency First Response (EFR) courses and first aid training in general. The EFR course provides comprehensive first aid training to not only help us prepare for a variety of situations but to also help us properly care for an injured or ill person.

While some of us may think (and hope) that we will never have to use our EFR training in an emergency situation, others have already had to use their EFR skills to save lives. One of these heroic individuals is Sun Diving Center owner, Master Scuba Diver Trainer and Emergency First Response Instructor Dilshan Nanayakkara. Dilshan was able to use his EFR skills in full force to successfully resuscitate and save an unconscious civilian.

Dilshan Nanayakkara- Diver- Instructor- India

We asked Dilshan some questions about his courageous and brave efforts:

What were you doing before the incident?

I was taking a guest from my PADI Dive Center on a guided snorkelling tour at Jungle Beach, Sri Lanka. We arrived at the site on my dive center boat and snorkelled for around an hour. We then decided to go back to shore which is where I saw around 50 people, oddly gathering together on the beach.

What happened next?

I immediately knew something was wrong so I left my snorkelling gear on the beach and ran towards the crowd. When I reached the crowd I saw a man lying on the ground, lifeless, with his friends crying around him. I told everyone I was a trained Emergency First Responder and knew what to do. Instinctively, I first checked for his pulse – but there was not one. I suddenly started yelling “call for an ambulance!” and rolled the patient onto his side to open and check his airways. After this, I immediately gave him two rescue breaths and began CPR. The only thing running through my head at this point was “I need to save this guy’s life.” After the second round of CPR the patient started vomiting. Then finally after one deep breath, the patient miraculously started breathing again.

Did the ambulance then take over from you?

Unfortunately, Jungle Beach is a location that can’t be reached by ambulance. So I had to make a decision on the best (and fastest) way to get the patient to a hospital. I decided to drive him on my boat and meet the ambulance on the closest main road. From here, I was able to quickly tell the paramedics what I witnessed and what first aid I provided him. Overall, the whole experience ended in around 25 minutes but will remain a learning life experience for me, forever.

How is the patients’ health and recovery since the incident?

The patient’s family called me the night of the incident and told me that the doctors had successfully removed water from his lungs, which means he should get better. A week later the patient was able to be discharged from hospital.

Did your Emergency First Response (EFR) skills help you in this situation?

Yes and without these skills I might not have been able to save this man’s life. Therefore, I want to thank PADI for including the EFR course in the structure of the PADI Rescue Diver course. Without PADI, I wouldn’t have become an EFR Instructor or known how to help save this man’s life.

Why should everyone complete their Emergency First Response (EFR) course?

I think that the EFR course is one of the greatest courses that gives you the most important skills that you could ever learn as a human. I believe that this course is essential to both divers and non-divers as it will help them be prepared for any situation. We will never know when accidents are going to occur or when we might need to save another person’s life. Therefore, it’s imperative that we know how to help an injured or ill person and ultimately, how to save someone’s life, if ever needed.

Dilshan Nanayakkara- Diver- Instructor- India

Congratulations to Dilshan for not only putting your EFR skills to use under extreme circumstances, but for also effectively responding in a manner that was able to successfully save this man’s life.

Become an Emergency First Response Instructor to get the additional training necessary to teach the Emergency First Response Primary Care (CPR), Secondary Care (First Aid), Care for Children, CPR & AED course

Emerging Indian Market Bringing New Opportunities

Written by PADI Regional Training Consultant Robert Scammell

Starting from October 2018, GoAir India have opened two direct routes to Phuket from Delhi and Mumbai. GoAir will operate three direct flights per week between Mumbai and Phuket and two direct flights between Delhi and Phuket. This opens a new gateway for travelers to and from India, as previously the only option was to connect via Bangkok. These new flights will offer consumers a lot more convenience and opportunities in their travel.

Conversely, given Phuket’s tourism and ex-pat community this also opens new gateways for those wishing to explore India itself. India already plays host to approximately 120,000 Thai tourists a year (mostly Buddhist pilgrimages) providing a fantastic opportunity for PADI Dive Centers in India to attract foreign tourism. While other destinations such as Malaysia and Bali have been enjoying direct flights from India for some time.

As Industry professionals there are great opportunities with this emerging market, as many Indian nationals are traveling to South East Asia with a specific goal to experience Scuba Diving. India already has a growing outbound tourism diving market with many Indians completing referral training in Indian cities and traveling to South East Asia to complete training. Many businesses are already enjoying Indian nationals travelling to them to further their diver education whilst also experiencing a new destination.

Forecasters are already predicting the number of Indians holidaying abroad is likely to treble 2025 and may account for 40 per cent of the international air trips from the country, according to an aviation think-tank reports. In 2016, there were 21.9 million foreign departures from India, of which 4.8 million were leisure trips. According to reports, in 2025 there will be 13.9 million international leisure departures from India, accounting for 40.3 per cent of the total projected 34.5 million international departures.

Those who travel abroad are a mere 8 per cent of the high-income group population of 55 million, which is expected to exceed 100 million people by 2025, according to the report titled ‘Inflection point for India Outbound Leisure travel’. While in 2017 Thailand had 1,411,942 Indian visitors, a growth of 18.2% from 2016. While other destinations, such as Indonesia, have enjoyed a growth of 190% since 2016. Holiday makers from tier-2 cities in India are expected to play a key role in international travel with the size of high-income and upper-middle class income households growing faster there than in metropolitan areas. The expanding middle-income segment in India will see an increase in demand for domestic and international travel, according to reports.

Research indicates that the most popular leisure destinations for Indian travelers are Dubai, Thailand, France, Singapore and Malaysia. In fact, these five destinations alone accounted for just over 50 per cent of Indian leisure arrivals overseas in 2017. These holiday spots were followed by Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Indonesia (primarily Bali), the US and Switzerland. Millennials who are more adventurous than their predecessors are generally more inclined to spend money on travel rather than save and therefore, will drive the growth in outbound tourism, according to reports. This is also likely to change travel patterns as millennials start to travel with a group of friends or even solo rather than with their large family from India.

The growing India outbound tourism market is a big opportunity for the Scuba Diving Industry, especially in Asian countries, to attract a new customer base and forge links with a rapidly expanding market. As these new Gateways open there is great chance for the PADI Dive Centers to jump on board by building connections with an already established businesses in India. Through tools such as the PADI Travel affiliate program, you will be able to start attracting new customers and see the benefits from the emerging market that is India.

For more information on this market you can contact Robert Scammell, PADI Regional Training Consultant for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – robert.scammell@padi.com.au.

Are You Aware of the Emerging Market That is India?

Written by PADI Regional Training Consultant, Rob Scammell

In recent years we have heard a great deal about the ‘waking lion’, aka China, with many businesses showing incredible growth by expanding into this emerging market that has taken the world, including the diving industry, by storm.

We now have the awakening of the ‘sleeping tiger’, which is India. This is a market that is growing rapidly in both domestic and international regions with many dive businesses in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka reporting a rapid growth of inbound tourists from India.

According to a CNN Money report, India has the fastest economic growth in the last quarter of 2017 showing economic growth of 7.2%, which is faster than China’s growth in the same period and a big jump from the 6.5% India recorded in the previous quarter. India is further expected to widen the gap over China with the international monetary fund predicting it will grow by 7.4% this year.

Given the economic growth and the increased outbound tourism from Indian nationals, this is a fantastic opportunity for PADI Members to get on board and offer services to this interested group.

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There are some advantages to this market over others. Firstly language; although India has 22 official languages and another 1652 mother tongues, English is widely used as a key language of communication. This obviously helps with communicating your messages.

Secondly, people from India rarely travel alone and quite commonly they travel in groups with family or friends, creating an opportunity for you to introduce diving to more than one person at a time.

Many established dive centres in India already have outbound tourism departments specialising in overseas dive travel experience. A great way to increase your customer base would be to establish links with these businesses to encourage them to bring their diving groups to your operation. Dive shows are also appearing in India which are a great opportunity to visit, make contacts and have a business presence.

So now, in fact, could be the time for your business to enjoy the ride, which is the ‘awakening tiger’ of India.

For more information on this market you can contact Robert Scammell, PADI Regional Training Consultant for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – robert.scammell@padi.com.au.