Introducing Marina, Scuba Queen USA!

Hello everyone, Mermaid Marina here!

I am so honored to have been selected to represent the United States in the Miss Scuba International competition. I am excited to represent women in diving while sharing one of my greatest passions: ocean conservation. I stumbled upon this pageant by accident and I am so glad I did! Combining my pageant experience with my work experience at SeaWorld, I knew that this opportunity would be a perfect fit. The adventures that lie ahead are ones I will never forget!

Marina Inserra, Scuba Queen USA 2016

Marina Inserra, Scuba Queen USA 2016

Three years ago, if you would have asked me to go scuba diving with you I would of said 'no way!' Growing up, I guess you could say I had a fear of swimming in lakes and the ocean. I was fearful of all of the little creatures swimming beneath me or even the seaweed touching my feet! Haha Well, this all changed after my sister and I did a Beluga Interaction at SeaWorld a couple years ago. After looking at my sister, with teary eyes, telling me that she wanted to be a dolphin trainer, I agreed to get scuba certified together.

Julie and Marina during a beluga interaction at SeaWorld

Since we grew up in San Diego, my sisters and I had the privilege of getting to visit SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park) and learn about animals from around the world. It was one of my childhood dreams to grow up and become a dolphin trainer or a marine mammal veterinarian.

Left: Julie, Marina & Bri, 2014, Miss America

Right: Marina, Bri & Julie, 1998, San Diego Zoo

That path changed when I started performing in theatre and eventually went on to earn my degree in Theatre Performance from San Diego State University. My freshman year of college, I began working at SeaWorld as a performer for Halloween Spooktacular. A year later, I began working in the Education and Conservation department. Over the past five years, I have split my time between the two departments giving me the opportunity to educate people about ocean conservation through the power of entertainment. Learning should be fun… and what better way to teach people about animals than by getting face-to-face with them through songs and activities in the park. I am now an Instructor in the Education department and get to educate guests at animal exhibits in the park, teach campers on our overnight sleepover programs, lead public tours, and host the Shamu show for field trip students and our public guests. I love my job very much and find it funny that my life has come full circle getting to do both performance and education at SeaWorld, San Diego!

Marina hosting the Shamu show, "Killer Whales: Up Close," 2015

As I expressed interest to get scuba certified, I had plenty of resources to look to. My parents, grandfather, aunt & uncle and many friends were all divers. So the peer pressure began to grow in the form of shared stories and photos that made me more and more excited to dive! When my sister and I were ready to get our scuba certification, we looked to Ocean Enterprises in San Diego. We enrolled in a three week open water certification course. This gave us plenty of time in the classroom, pool and then the ocean. Our first dives were less than ideal! Julie and I both got sick (underwater… ew!) and struggled through our dives. Julie sat out the next dive, leaving her to finish her certification at a later time. But by the end of my fourth dive, I was officially a certified diver!

Julie and Marina - first pool dive!

I immediately continued diving by enrolling in an Advanced Open water course with The WAVES Project. WAVES is a non-profit organization that rehabilitates wounded veterans through scuba diving. I had the privilege of diving with a group of veterans for my advanced open water courses. It was so amazing to see a man with no use of his legs experience the freeing feeling of diving underwater. I will plan to share more stories about The WAVES Project as time goes on. In the meantime, learn more at WavesProject.org.

Steve Rubin, Founder of WAVES & Marina

So why a scuba diving pageant? Well, I have spent the last ten years of my life competing in pageants. I first competed my freshman year of high school in an effort to earn scholarship money for college. I stumbled upon the Miss American Organization and was hooked! The pageant allowed me to perform a talent during the competition, represent a platform for community service, and make friends with similar interests and ambitions. After five attempts, I finally won the title of Miss California 2014 on my 23rd birthday!

Marina being crowned Miss California 2014 on her 23rd birthday!

Getting the opportunity to compete for Miss America was a once in a lifetime chance and an experience I will never forget! I enjoyed spending the year as Miss CA traveling the world promoting my personal platform of breast cancer awareness, the MAO national platform of the Children's Miracle Network, and representing young women of today. I earned over $20,000 in scholarship money that allowed me to recently pay off my student loans! I am forever grateful for this experience and encourage all young women to look into competing in the Miss America Organization.

Now that I have found a pageant that combines my two loves of diving and pageants, I am so excited to embark on this journey! Follow along on this blog for more updates. You can also follow me on Instagram @Mermaid.Marina and @ScubaQueenUSA. "Like" Scuba Queen USA on Facebook.

Marina on a recent dive in Catalina Island. Notice the giant sea bass photobombing?!

I am looking forward to sharing more posts with you in the future!

Sincerely,

Marina Inserra

Scuba Queen USA 2016


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