Freediving is a sport where you go under the water holding your breath. It is the purest way to interact with the ocean and life under the surface while focusing on the mind-body connection on the deepest levels. When you go down on one breath you have to be relaxed to conserve oxygen and adapt to external pressure. Freediving is an extremely meditative experience and becoming one with water for a successful dive is pure bliss.
We got hooked to freediving during our Philippines island hopping at the end of 2017. On the island of Coron, we saw attracting video advertisements to try the sport out and got the opportunity to dive in a week later at Moalboal. Learning how to pop one’s ears to equalize against the growing pressure going down a rope while being surrounded by sardines was an overwhelming experience. As the 16m that beginners were limited to did not satisfy Robert’s curiosity he started training immediately after returning to Estonia and eventually became competitive.
Most of us live in a city environment away from green and blue scenery and with a much too great pace of life. We need to slow down and go into nature as often as possible. There is no better way to do it than freediving – it will boost confidence, help to reach beyond comfort zones, lower anxiety, and stress. It gives busy minds a chance to rest and slows the world down for a while. The time never goes as slow as during harder parts of a static breath-hold during pool training.
On the surface, our bodies have adapted to 1 bar of atmospheric pressure, at 10 meters deep the pressure has doubled to 2, and the size of lungs has decreased to half proportionately. About 20 meters deep divers no longer have air in the lungs to keep them buoyant and they start falling into the depths. This feeling of freedom and weightless flying while looking for calmness in this utmost silence is highly addictive. So is being under pressure and the softness of breath after a diving session.
While freediving is an extreme sport due to the unnaturally long breath-holds and possibly inhospitable environment it is much safer than it sounds. Rescuing is the most important part of beginner courses and properly organised training always has a buddy system – every diver both in the pool and open water has a safety to look over them and help them to surface and oxygen if something goes wrong. In a depth session the person going down is attached to a diving line so the currents don’t drift them away from course towards the bottom and the team at the top can pull them up on emergency. We have not witnessed a real need for intervention outside of pool competitions.
The community of freedivers everywhere is our people. We easily identify with the athletic and kind unchained spirits who value nature, enjoy yoga and meditation. The competitions, camps and gatherings are frictionless encounters full of sharing and learning with a healthy touch of rivalry.
Our traveling is nowadays controlled by freediving opportunities. I don’t mind as those spots are super relaxing and more often than not have a strong touch of yoga and several plant-based food options around. Besides Panglao and Moalboal in the Philippines, we have enjoyed freediving trips to Cyprus, Bali, and Gili islands in Indonesia and the lakes in Estonia and Finland.
Have you tried freediving? Have you found new hobbies while traveling?