ELEVEN local and overseas scuba divers recently received Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification, after successfully completing a week-long course staged at Sandals Grande Riviera.
Participants — including local Sandals and Beaches as well as Beaches Turks and Caicos watersports team members who were joined by non-Sandals divers from Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands — can now operate as instructors worldwide.
The seminar, which included theoretical and practical applications, was conducted by United States-based PADI designation course director Pat Hammer in conjunction with Jamaican experts, while the two-day examination section was convened by internationally certified examiners.
Subjects covered included physics, physiology, environment, equipment, and recreational dive planning which saw participants learning how to make decisions on how long divers can stay underwater without harming themselves.
The theoretical sessions took place in classroom settings, while a number of practical demonstrations were held in the pools and on dives at sea.
"The international PADI course was part of our constant efforts to produce more diving instructors to meet the demands of guests in our local and international operations, as well as assisting in the development of non-Sandals divers," said Noylis Amair, Sandals group watersports consultant, and one of the local course instructors.
"As a result of our efforts, we now no longer have to employ dive instructors from overseas to operate in Jamaica; we have enough home-grown talent to satisfy our guest population and we will continue to develop more," he added.
Jamaican instructors are currently employed at the Sandals properties throughout the Caribbean, significantly reducing the earlier demand for foreigners in those territories.
Amair was also pleased with the fact that Sandals was not only certifying its instructors, but also providing opportunities for persons outside the company, thereby contributing to the overall development of the profession.
"We are very proud of that fact and see it as our commitment to Caribbean nation building," he said.
Ike Gardner, a lifeguard at Sandals Grande Riviera and one of the participants, had high praise for the course.
"I learned so much and am now well equipped to do the job of instructing my guests. I found the course well planned and informative, and I got a chance to work alongside professional and experienced course instructors," he said. "I am now looking forward to take the next step in becoming a master scuba diving trainer."