Five years ago, on a trip to Venezuela, I scuba dived for the first time. It was a journey that kicked off my passion for the ocean and its conservation. Since then, I’ve been traveling the world improving my diving skills in search of the most pristine coral reefs and wildlife. The more I understood the ocean, though, the more I challenged myself to be in harmony with the sea. I desired to dive with no weights and tanks, in the most natural way possible alongside the greatest’s marine creatures on earth. Then, I went to Hanifaru Bay – the world’s largest manta ray feeding station located in the Maldives – where one is not allowed to scuba dive.
In Hanifaru Bay, I enjoyed swimming and snorkeling with manta rays, but I wished I had the ability to submerge in the ocean and navigate around the mantas without the need to surface every few seconds. That was the moment I decided to start a new chapter in my life. Learning to hold my breath the longest and pushing my body to the limit – freediving seemed the unavoidable next step. One of the greatest challenges to face and to be rewarded for.
It happened in Singapore, in the waters of Lazarus Island. I met up with Chris Kim, from Zen Free Diving – the first freediving school in Singapore. Chris has over ten years freediving experience and is the winner of the SG pool freediving open 2015 and second place in the Australian National depth Championship 2015. First, I did some training in breathing techniques. Then, some stretching and meditation on the deck of the boat. Not much later, I jumped in the water, for some training on the surface, before I inverted my body and headed down, down, down in the ocean. I was terrified and failed the first attempts. On my third or fourth trial, as I tried to control my mind and focus on the swaying rope, it felt supremely still and quiet. Perhaps this is what it feels like for dolphins as they leap into the roar of the air, then splash back down into the silence of the sea.
The key for freediving is to meet the mental challenge of keeping a breath held longer than you believe possible. There is a natural instinct to surface much earlier than necessary – and the trick is to reject that call. Once you understand you can control your mind, you can also conquer the world – and the ocean. It’s all about personal awareness. Although I was extremely attracted to embark on this new sport, I was particularly frightened. “In your time, when you are ready,” Chris said to me as I struggled to strengthen my mind. Only after a few attempts, I was able to appreciate the beauty of submerging in the ocean with no tanks of compressed air, cumbersome jackets or tubes. I understood what freedom is about. And from that moment on I hoped my freediving adventures have only just begun.
Zen Free Diving: www.zenfreediving.org / firstname.lastname@example.org