I first heard about freediving from a client, who linked floating to the meditative qualities of freediving. Staying calm and controlled is crucial when you’re diving hundreds of feet into the ocean on a single breath.
For the uninitiated, freediving is like diving, but without the breathing apparatus. It’s popular with spearfishers, marine biologists, hobbyists such as underwater photographers, and pretty much anyone who’s enthusiastic about exploring the ocean.
In October, I attended an AIDA 1 Star course, a six-hour session for beginners with theory and practical training. The session was led by Bernard Wong, a certified instructor who teaches Apnea Academy, Pure Apnea, and AIDA courses. He taught us the safety protocols and brought us through several rounds of static and dynamic apnea.
On my first try, I panicked after holding my breath (static) for just thirty seconds. By the end of the class, I’d accomplished a calm and composed three-minute breath-hold. Freediving helps us unlock innate abilities that we’ve lost touch with; you’ll learn about your mind, body, and how to push your limits.
Bernard tells us more about his freediving journey—
Why do you freedive?
I feel that I am able to free my mind whenever I Freedive. I guess it is a form of escape to a different world.
How long have you been freediving, and how has your experience changed over time?
Its been 6 years since I started Freediving. I feel that I get more comfortable underwater over time and this has enabled me to do other activities like Freedive photography.
We’ve heard about a meditative side to Freediving. Can you describe it?
I feel that Freediving calms the mind. Freedivers are able to detach themselves from the real world for the few minutes that they are holding their breath. To be transported to a world where they are able to concentrate only on themselves, away from the stress that they may face from their environment. The ability to once again… feel their heart beating.
Can you name one common misconception people have about free diving?
“Freediving is difficult because I am unable to hold my breath for long.” My answer to that is that breath holding is a technique and an art that has to be practiced and therefore improved. You get the same enjoyment from Freediving with 1 minute of breathhold as you will from 5 minutes of breathhold.
“The heart rate lowers, breath rate lowers, your body starts consuming far less oxygen, brain waves soften, muscles relax, blood starts flowing through your tissues more easily, your metabolism slows, you feel mellow, you feel great.” —James Nestor, 2014 Float Conference
You’ve judged freedive competitions before. What is the competitive scene like?
We have only recently started Freedive competition in Singapore and interest is growing as more people start to learn Freediving.
Is there a big freediving community in Singapore?
There are only a few hundred trained Freedivers in Singapore so I will consider it to be a small community.
What kind of activities help you train for freediving?
Like all sports, I am able to Freedive best when I am physically and mentally fit. There are many sports that can keep me physically fit but not too many activities that could assist on the mental aspects. I guess I am lucky to discover floating and found that I was able to Freedive better after my first float experience with improved ability to relax.
What would you say to convince someone to try freediving?
Give Freediving a try if you like a sport that enables you to look inside yourself. A sport that enables you to look at the world from a different perspective.
If you’re interested in picking up freediving, head over to singaporefreedivers.com
All photos are credited to facebook.com/cosmicdreamstory