F R E E D I V I N G – Day 1
This week is all about FREEDIVING. In capitals, because we are very excited about it!
Have you ever considered it? To be honest, I never did. I thought scuba diving was a sport enough for me, and Freediving seemed somehow very macho. Something about it never really attracted me.
That is, until we actually met some Freedivers. Contrary to my limited beliefs, these guys were very down to earth, calm and spiritual even. After all, there are many common elements with yoga and Freediving. After seeing this, I was intrigued. I wanted to give it a go.
Luckily our friends here in Camiguin island have started a Freediving School, so we were able to try it out close to home. Curious? So am I (not to mention slightly scared)!
We started our first day with a short briefing about the course, and about the exercises we were about to do. Having only read the theory, we were still a bit apprehensive (myself more so than our Adventurous Arno), but slowly I was starting to feel more comfortable. Still, the idea that I had to dive down to a minimum of 10m to get certified seemed a tad bit hard core.
Freediving is a sport, and it will stretch the body and the mind. You put yourself in a new position, you put your body through something it is not familiar with, and you can be certain that your monkey-mind is going a bit crazy in the beginning! This is why the preparation for Freediving includes both the physical and the mental aspects.
We start by laying down on our colorful yoga mats near the seashore, and tried to hold our breaths for as long as we could. I managed 20 seconds (I think partly due to stage fright and performance anxiety…). Arno had no such issues, and clocked more than 2 minutes from the get go.
So I had a lot to improve…
After the breathing exercises I managed to double my time to 55 sec, and Arno passed the 3 minute mark. Then it was time to hit the water!
The first day includes the breathing exercises and a confined water session. Before we get into the water, we stretch. This is a nice way to open up the body, and quiet down the mind before the event of freediving. You will need both the body and the mind to be calm under water, and it’s eventually up to you what you want to do as a pre-dive calm-down. Some yoga and meditation will certainly go along way!
And then. As we were sitting there by the edge of the pool with our familiar diving suits on, and the very unfamiliarly long freediving fins on, the 30 meters we had to dive to pass the test seemed F A R away. But once you do the breathing exercises face down in the water, and start kicking with those massive fins, it’s actually not so bad. Be the dolphin, be the dolphin! was the only conscious thought I tried to let into my busy brain, but of course all other things were roaming around, as I took my final breath and went under.
Breathing is a funny thing. It’s life, it’s energy, it’s automated. The urge to breathe is so strong, for obvious reasons, but it’s surprising how much you can override this urge. When you get the urge to breathe, you are not actually low on oxygen levels, but a bit on the high side on carbon dioxide levels. Your body still has oxygen left to function, and you are left to watch yourself while you are confronted with this urge to BREATHE!
For me the first 10 meters were the most difficult. Getting into motion, realizing what was happening, and every time I wanted to come out already after just a few meters. But then you think – this is just a reaction, and you keep on swimming… Between the first urge to breathe, and the very last one that actually takes you all the way up to the surface, there is a dolphin like moment where you just glide through the waters, free and weightless.
I’m starting to see it. The power of this sport, and why it would make you hooked.
Let’s see what happens tomorrow, when we go into the ocean with just our dolphin-like state of minds and the mind-over-matter-attitude.