223505_10151691229449942_1337041437_nAletta Van Der Merwe

PADI Assistant Instructor and PADI Divemaster, part time

Scubaversity, Johannesburg South Africa

PADI Five Star IDC Centre


What is your current job?

Accounts Executive


Describe a typical day in your working life.

I wake up at 05h00 to leave at 06h15 in the morning. After dropping my children at school and sitting in traffic for about an hour plus, I finally get to the office. Because I’m in a sales environment I need to pre-plan my day to make time for all I need to accomplish in just 8 hours. A typical day consists of contacting and following up on clients, setting up new meetings and going to set meetings, sending quotations and handling client queries. Our company provides technical solutions to huge corporate clients, so my day can also change within a second – from being structured to doing damage control most of the day. So if it’s not stressful enough being in a sales environment, I have an enormous target to reach each month as well. But hey, my motivation for working as hard as I do is to keep on diving and getting to go on trips with Scubaversity – I work to dive!!!


Diver in cave of glass-fish, by Peter DriesselWhen did you start diving?

We are a family of four and 3 of us started diving in June 2012 – Yes, in the middle of winter! My daughter was only 8 at the time, but we can’t wait for her to join us when she turns 10 in November 2013. My husband, my son (10 at the time) and I did a DSD the end of August and were hooked immediately. We did our PADI Open Water Diver on a very cold winters day and qualified in Miracle Waters the following weekend…..it was freezing, but so worth it. The very next weekend we went to Sodwana Bay for our very first sea dives and for my husband and I to complete our PADI Advanced Openwater Course. We have not stopped since. We then started with our specialities one after the other and gathered as much experience as possible. After completing 6 specialities we did our PADI Rescue Diver course and then our Emergency First Response course. We then decided that it was time to start with PADI Dive Masters. There were 7 of us doing the course at the time and because of everyone’s hectic work and social life, it took us about 12 weeks to complete. It was tough because of us having young kids at home, but hey, it was great fun. We were such a strong group and I think we learned so much more than what you would learn on a typical Dive Masters course. So after Dive Masters my husband and I did our Emergency First Response Instructor course and then immediately thereafter we did our PADI Assistant Instructors course. So just to recap – we were so impressed with this ‘diving thing’ that we managed to do our PADI; Open Water, Advanced Open Water course, Six PADI specialities diver courses (Search & Recovery, Deep, Nitrox, Shark, Wreck and Equipment) Rescue course, EFR course, Dive Master course, EFRI and AI in just under 6 months. Unfortunately, I had to go for an operation, so we’ve placed the PADI Instructors on hold for now, but will finish Instructors in December 2013. Once that is finished we won’t stop there. We want to still get to IDC staff instructor one day. Who knows…Course Director might still be a possibility as well


Pool TrioWhen and where did you become a PADI Divemaster?

We wrote our final exam on 28 October 2012 through Scubaversity Dive Club in Ruimsig.


How did you feel when you became a PADI Divemaster?

It was amazing and overwhelming. This is only the first step into what I really want to accomplish as a PADI Professional. Our dream is to be able to leave the corporate world and work permanently in the Diving industry. We want to give our children the best in life and by following this dream we will provide them with a better life as well. And not only is this our dream, but they’ve been so positively influenced that they can’t think of doing anything else. They are just as excited as we are.


What highlights do you recall from your DM course?

Being able to assist with students in training really stands out for me. Then I really enjoyed the skills practise with my fellow Dive Masters. Like I mentioned earlier, we were such a great bunch and we all became such good friends during our DM course.


Where have you worked as PADI Pro?

My husband and I did an EFR course for a family of four in February this year and are now currently running the very first PADI Seal Team for ten children at Scubaversity Dive Club – my daughter being one of them


BFP_5746What is one of your favourite memories in your diving career?

My first favourite memory must be my first sea dive at Sodwana Bay having my husband and son by my side. It was such an amazing experience. Then another highlight was when my husband and I did the bated shark dive in Aliwal Shoal. Wow, what an experience. If you want a rush like no other, then this is a must on your bucket list. At one stage there were about 25 – 30 sharks swimming around us. It was an experience of a lifetime.


What words of advice would you give to new dive professionals?

Never forget why you wanted to become a Dive Professional in the first place. Don’t lose focus and remember we are in the business of changing lives….so go out and change some lives!!! If you manage to change just once family’s life through diving, you have achieved more than most people can say after working 50 years in the corporate world. Have fun and make every second count.

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