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Diving with… Pim Vermeulen, Dahab, Egypt

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In this new ongoing series, we speak with the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer


What is your name?

Pim Vermeulen

What centre are you involved with?

IMMERSION freedive academy and shop. I’m also the organizer of the RedCcup in Dahab, Egypt.

What is your role within the centre?

Business owner and the main instructor

How long has the centre operated for?

Since beginning of 2002, originally based in the Netherlands but from 2012, permanently in Dahab.

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

I have been freediving since 1998. I am an AIDA International Instructor Trainer, AIDA International Judge Instructor, Apnea International Instructor Trainer, NFDB Instructor Trainer, PADI Master Freediver Instructor, PADI Divemaster, PADI EFR Instructor, 9-times National Record holder for the Netherlands and since 2016, Founder and Board Member of AIDA Egypt.

What is your favourite type of diving?

Freediving, of course, although I still scuba dive on my days off.

If you could tell people one thing about the centre (or maybe more) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

First of all, CUSTOMER CARE and I’ve written in capitals with a reason as there I make the biggest difference with other freedive centres. Furthermore, my experience as a freedive instructor and coach goes back to the year 2000 and I have a long history in all aspects of freediving from beginners to World Record holders. My freelance instructors are selected with the utmost care, as quality is the most important thing at Immersion academy!

Where do you currently promote your centre?

Website, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc. but soon we start promotion differently and will come out with merchandising and other related products.

What is your favourite dive and why?

The Blue Hole: because we have close to perfect conditions / depth all year around and with just a 2 minute swim to get 92-95m of depth which is important for safety.

What types of diving are available in this area?

In Dahab any types of diving are possible all year around from freediving (0-350m), scuba diving, tech diving, to snorkeling.

Are you involved with any other centre / locations?

I ‘freelance’ for several scuba centres if they have freedive customers here in Dahab and Sharm el Sheikh. I can travel around the world on invitation, but mainly I work from my own centre.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

As an instructor and coach the most rewarding thing is seeing people change during a course or a coaching program. Of course the biggest changes you will see are in beginner courses like AIDA2, Instructor course, Judge courses and in personal coaching programs.

How would you like help promoting your centre?

More media attention in written media, promo’s, dive exhibitions, etc.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

Since I started diving and freediving, I have loved Manatees and sadly so far I have not been lucky enough to go to Crystal River in Florida to snorkel with them.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

Yes, the main thing is that we will open a brand new high-end freedive, sports and health centre soon in the Lighthouse area of Dahab. There’s a lot of future plans with more information to be released soon.

As a centre what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

The main problem for all of us here in South Sinai is the lack of charter (direct) flights from Sharm to Europe etc. For many, scheduled flights by major airlines are too expensive. Also the bad media attention we get doesn’t help and Dahab is most likely more safe than Europe at the moment.

Once people are here the cost of living is extremely low and you can rent a luxury apartment for only 90GBP, whilst a dinner in Dahab’s most famous restaurant will set you back with just 7GBP. The only risk Dahab truly possesses is the fact that you most likely will never want to leave again after being here for a few weeks!

Is your centre involved in any environmental projects?

At the moment, not any more as the environmental project we were working on stopped last year. We all setting up new ones that will be revealed in the near future. The scuba and freedive industry and the rest of the foreign locals stick together to improve the overall environmental awareness of our customers and Egyptian locals. For example, last year there was a huge project involving three local schools and that was very successful; this year it will be repeated.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

The main problem in any of these industries is that people with limited capabilities as instructor / coach but with amazing marketing skills get a big chunk of the business without delivering quality. They often work under often unsafe conditions and we see this here on an almost daily basis! Furthermore, the trend in Freediving starts to follow the Scuba industry and prices drop and as a result, the quality, safety and customer satisfaction also drops.

We hope to get more support from the organizations we represent but some are mainly focused on expansion rather then creating quality and respecting safety standards. As an AIDA Egypt Board Member I, together with some other foreign Instructors that are involved, work hard to protect the levels of quality in our industry.

Find out more about me and IMMERSION freedive academy at:

Steve Millard is a leading UK based AIDA and PADI Freediving Instructor Trainer who is the owner of Apneists UK freediving group - www.freedivers.co.uk. Currently Press officer to the British Freediving Association and Performance mermaids lead coach.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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