PADI Regional Manager Matt Wenger sits down with the country’s first PADI Freediving Instructor Trainer to learn more about his passion for the sport and his commitment to seeing it blossom in the Maldives.
When did you first discover the sport of freediving?
In the Maldives, we are surrounded by water, so my passion for the ocean developed at a very young age. Most of my childhood was spent in the water so freediving was a natural extension of that. Although I would freedive all the time, and was surrounded by talented freedivers, I had no idea that there was an official term for what we were doing, or that it was a sport that was popular on a global scale. There were no freediving centres in the Maldives then, so I just had no idea.
How did your journey to becoming a professional freediver start?
About a decade ago, I slowly came to know more about freediving as a sport and began exploring opportunities to get into the sport on a more serious level. In 2013, I finally became a certified freediver here in the Maldives and from there; I never looked back. At that time, there weren’t many opportunities in the Maldives to further my training, so over the next few years I travelled to Thailand and the Philippines to attend more advanced courses. Working with leading freediving agencies and under the tutorship of several freediving world champions, in 2015 I returned to the Maldives as an Advanced Instructor. The following year, I became the country’s first Freediving Instructor Trainer, for the Maldives and the SAARC region. In addition, I currently hold three national records in the sport.
What made you want to become a PADI Freediving Instructor Trainer?
With PADI, it was an easy choice because the organisation is globally recognised and trusted. PADI’s brand power is unmatched and the support I receive on a local level is great. Over the past few years, PADI has really emerged as a leader in the sport of freediving and developed some fantastic training materials, so I’m excited to be a part of that here in the Maldives.
Where are you teaching now?
Through my company Freedive Maldives, I conduct courses throughout the Maldives. I’m based in Male’ and teach there, but I also collaborate with resorts such as Bandos Maldives and I travel across the country. I’m always happy to work with local dive centres if they are looking to host some freediving courses.
With the correct training, freediving students can make amazing progress in a relatively small amount of time and I really enjoy seeing that.
So what does the future hold for you?
This is a really exciting time for the sport of freediving in the Maldives. When I started, there were no freediving schools for locals, and anyone interested in the sport would have to either spend a lot of money to go to a resort or travel abroad. At Freedive Maldives, we really believe in making freediving training accessible to locals so now our goal is to get as many Maldivians certified as possible, and making the Maldives a well-known destination for freedivers globally. I’m looking forward to training local instructors and to seeing them go on to teach students from across the world.