You can imagine the fun I had with the article about the new Oceans Sirens Mermaid Academy found at http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/news/ariel-and-aquaman-you-ve-got-company/article_8096b1dc-17ca-11ea-abad-8b4cfba390e4.html
Aside from the fact I did use free diving to stage a murder (sort of) in my first scuba-themed mystery (Shades of Murder), I’ve never been inclined to go through training for free diving (also known as breath hold). Also setting aside the people who train for making/breaking records, 4 to 5 minutes underwater is more the standard for a trained free diver. While that may not seem like a long time, it does give you a nice interaction on a reef or the ability to spear a fish if that’s your thing. Part of taking a scuba course does also involve (or used to) one quick lesson in free diving. It isn’t much in the way of training; more to give you the sensation. There is a little bit of crossover in both types of diving in the sense that how long you can stay underwater on scuba is a function of depth and air consumption. (Those who know this can skip or bear with me). The deeper you dive on scuba, the shorter the amount of time you can stay at depth because of the risk of decompression sickness (DCS or “the bends”). You will also need to save enough air for a 3-5 minute safety stop during your ascent from anything lower than 50 feet as another precaution against DCS. But if you are diving shallow around thirty feet, how rapidly you use air is the main factor in how long you can remain underwater. In general, the more you can relax underwater, the slower you breath and therefore extend your time. The most important difference in free diving and scuba is you absolutely should not hold your breath while on scuba due to potential pressure on your lungs.
Anyway, even though I choose the “techno mermaid” option of scuba as opposed to free diving, I am thrilled with the idea of having a mermaid school close by.