Of all the sports that I thought I would be hooked on freediving is the last thing that springs to mind. The thought of going under water without breath, riddled me with anxiety and worry. I never really enjoyed scuba. But once I tried it I was hooked.
My unplanned foray into freediving happened in May, when I went to El Nido in the Phillipines. You can read about it here.
We had the opportunity to go freediving again in Bali this month with Fusion Freedive & Yoga. I excitedly booked into two days training in Amed. Amed is a black sand bay where the depth goes to around 30 meters about ten metres out. What a great way to train. No boats required. No bogans in sight as this is mostly a dive destination with people doing their courses and yoga during the day. (We stayed at Bubu Racok homestay which I highly rate.)
On arrival at Fusion, we meet Hanna our guide and get geared up. After biking to the end of the bay we hit the water and warm up, by doing some drills going down to five then ten metres.
So many people ask me how many minutes I can hold my breath for? The diving we do is not for time, but rather for depth. Descending down the rope to even ten metres adds a whole different ball game to holding your breath on the surface. Your lungs compress. Your ears hurt. You need to equalise (as you would with scuba). You need to keep your head straight (looking at the rope) to relax your muscles. All this time, your instinct is telling you “get some air.”
You have to tell your mind to be quiet and learn to relax. As Hanna puts it, “scuba is nice to look at fish, freediving is a sport.”
We warm up to prepare for our deeper dives by doing a couple of exercises such as going to ten meters, hanging out there once you feel the ‘urge’ to breathe then coming up slowly. This builds confidence in being under the water and learning to trust your ability and oxygen. The Ginger Hunk is more advanced than me so while on day one I am trying to get to 15 meters, he is doing drills like going down then up, then going after a short break. Hanna reads both our levels on each dives and gives us tips on how to improve. This is another reason I love freediving. We can both challenge ourselves and train together. We finish day one after I eventually throw up my breakfast, after bobbing around in the water for too long.
Day two begins and we start much the same, but Hanna adds more training into the mix. We learn to rescue each other from ten meters below, practising pulling each other up from that and encouraging the other person to breathe. (Most black outs happen within five meters of the surface, not down below as you may think.) While doing this exercise I realise I love the feeling of kicking down rather than pulling on the rope (free immersion.)
This is how I get to my PB of twenty metres… sometimes it all just feels right.
(Like having a good run, or a shit run, sometimes 10km is easy, sometimes your knee hurts and five is a struggle.)
I am finning down and my ears feel good, and I just keep on going and try not think too much and FUCK, I can’t see anyone at the top anymore and I just keep going down. Ohhh a stinger thing. Wonder what that is? There is the FUCKING end of the rope!! FUCK! I am down here already! Try not to freak out Ash.Turn around. Grab the rope. Stay calm. Head towards the light. Keep looking ahead. There is Hanna. Give her a wave. Keep kicking. Up up up. Safety. Check. Smile.
High fives all around.
*Goes and googles flights back to Bali for more Fusion Freediving to do my level two training. Next stop, 25 meters.
*If you are thinking of giving it a go, then do! It does wonders for your water confidence. Most people can get to 20 after a few days training, then 30 is the next step. After that every meter counts.