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Julie Ferrara: PADI Mermaid Training Will Bring Magic to Your Business and Instruction

Are you interested in bringing magic to your business and training? We caught up with PADI Mermaid Instructor Trainer and owner of Freedive Cozumel, Julie Ferrara, to learn why she decided to dive into the mer-world and how it’s helping expand her teaching and business opportunities.

Instagram: @jewelsdiver

Q: Why and how did you decide to get involved with PADI Mermaid training?

A: My motivation stems from wanting to establish safety standards all across the mer-Industry, from the hobbyist to the ‘pro mer’, there is an immense need for formal training and education.

I learned to freedive in 2006 and immediately dived into competitive freediving. For competition, monofins are the preferred fin for deeper depths and the freediving gals are often referred to as “mermaids” because of that monofin shape and, of course, being on breath-hold. Once I certified as a freediving instructor, I immediately recognized the need for similar safety practice for recreational mermaiding activity and wrote a curriculum for a mermaid specialty.

Fast forward to 2015 . . . I crossed-over to become a PADI Freediver Instructor and continued on with my own mermaid curriculum. I also became certified as a PADI Swim School Instructor to add credibility to my growing mermaid classes. Most recently, I participated on the advisory board to develop the curriculum for the PADI Mermaid program. I provided feedback and also ran beta test trial classes.  

Since then, I have completely adopted the PADI Mermaid program and am ab~shell~utely thrilled with the recent release of PADI Mermaid eLearning.

Q. What can a certified PADI Mermaid can do?

A. In mermaid classes, we talk about the various options for certified mermaids. I use visual aid cards to show students the possibilities. Mermaiding can be for lifestyle, as in for hobby, fitness, or fun; as a public figure or event décor; as a special guest at a party; as a model for promos or marketing, and finally, to teach! Become a PADI Mermaid Instructor, of course! 

We have also created our Mermaids for Conservation team in Cozumel. Through PADI Mermaid classes, artistic swim shows, and public appearances, we swim and freedive to educate, entertain, and inspire folks to join our movement for eco-friendly living, working, and travel.

Q. What are the business benefits of offering PADI Mermaid training and certification?

A. The PADI Mermaid program has benefitted our business by allowing us to open up to a broader market. Apart from the classes, there are so many products and programs, or other streams of income to be generated with a mermaid theme. Bubblemakers and Mermaids,  anyone?

We are better able to connect families because, even if the kids aren’t ready for SCUBA, freediving, or even snorkeling, mermaids is a fin-tastic option. And, for the ladies, the siren call is strong and it is hard to resist swimming in those brightly colored tails!

The possibilities are endless, so we are very motivated to explore and decide upon which we can best capitalize. Plus, we’ve already found super easy and economical ways to give back to the community with mermaids on land or in water. Sharing smiles and mermaid love doesn’t cost anyone anything, but everyone benefits!

Q. Do you have any advice to prepare to become a Mermaid Instructor?

A. Practice your mermaid moves! Apart from basic swim skills, to qualify as a PADI Mermaid Instructor you must demonstrate 11 mermaid skills at role-model quality. The dolphin kick is the fundamental movement, and one that originates from the hips, not from a bend of the knee. Even if you haven’t purchased your own monofin yet, practice the movement with bi-fins, or better yet swim training fins, to really build your core strength and ingrain the muscle memory for when you’re wearing the monofin and tail.

During training you will also be required to demonstrate rescue and assistance skills with both bi-fins and your mermaid tail on. For those skills, a certain level of monofin mastery will be required to perform an adequate meRescue at role-model quality.

Q. What attributes do you look for in your Mermaid Instructor-candidates?

A. With PADI® Pros, it’s easy – there is already a sense of maintaining safety as the priority. Still, mermaiding is quite literally a whole different world. Swimming with a monofin and tail on breath-hold takes practice and getting used to, even for the most seasoned aquatic professional.

I look for a certain amount of humility, patience, and continued love of learning. Since mermaiding will be new for nearly everyone, I think an instructor who can share their own learning process and personal experience with students will be most effective, especially in those moments of prescriptive teaching and finding the best way to guide a student towards finding their ‘inner mer’.

Q. What are some of the things a dive shop will need to get started to offer the PADI Mermaid training?

A. Any dive center or resort who is currently offering SCUBA or freediving courses already has the proper set-up for mermaid class and water sessions. So, they will just need two things to get started; an active certified PADI Mermaid Instructor, and a rental fleet of monofins and mermaid tails. All other gear they should already have – mask, snorkel, weights, float, etc.

After going thru testing of essentially every brand, I use either Mahina Mermaid or Mermaid Linden monofins w Cape Cali diveTails. In my opinion, apart from competitive freediving monofins, these two are the absolute best for actual propulsion and easy “escape” in case of emergency. They also get extra points because their tails are colorful and look fabulous in photos! Cape Cali will soon announce tails manufactured with material produced from recycled fishing nets, demonstrating their 100 percent commitment to ocean conservation.

Q. Any final thoughts to share with PADI Members?

A. The tsunami wave of increasing mermaid popularity is easy to understand, and I think there is a certain synchronicity to the PADI Mermaid program being released in 2021. It arrives at a time when what we all need most is a healthy way to escape from the stress and worries of our human world. Mer-folk represent relaxed, care-free living, a perfectly balanced way of life, and connection with nature. Who couldn’t use a touch of mermaid magic in their life?

Learn More

Are you ready to get started with PADI Mermaid? Login to the PADI Pros’ Site to review the PADI Mermaid program standards and updates in the Q1 and Q2 2021 Training Bulletin.

 Also, read Introducing the New PADI Mermaid Program.

All images provided by Julie Ferrara.


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Instructor Development, Freediver Instructor, instructor development, Mermaid, PADI Freediver, PADI InstructorPADI Pros