Exactly on September 1st was my very first freediving lesson. I arrived at the pool, unaccustomed to new people and surroundings. Had my head down underwater with all my airways blocked. I was perfectly safe, with plenty of oxygen in my lungs and with a well experienced instructor right next to me. It was also the shallow part of the pool, where I can stand up whenever. And yet I turned away and called it quit, much much earlier than I could.
That’s my first reaction to static apnea (discipline of breath holding underwater with no movement). The rest of the training so far has been getting reacquainting with my innate ability to dive. All mammals including humans (in a rather underdeveloped way) have the Mammalian Dive Reflex (MDR) which reduces our heartbeat, conserve heat to the core, and reduce oxygen burn whenever we go underwater with breath hold. Our lungs can be squeezed to tiny sizes by the many bars of pressure yet come back normal sizes.
Freediving is another pursuit I found that combine body mind practice like how I have done yoga and dharma practice. It also connects me to my love of the underwater world in a way that I can be a resident and not a visitor. Well, that’s an aspiration. Still requires much practice to refine my skills to the more natural point.
I went for open water training and freediver exam in Chonburi not very far from Bangkok. The water’s not terribly clear and there’s not much to see compared to the Southern Paradise that I’ve experienced. Still, it was the deep that I came for and I got it. First round of constant weight (diving down and up by myself) I nailed the depth requirement. Gradually I get used to the pressure, but also just not being too separate from the water. This might be good practice for the other parts of my life too.
Still mysterious to me how in about 2 weeks with a handful of training days can turn someone from landlubber to freediver under at least 2 bar of pressure. Diving must be very strong innate ability. Even Couch to 5K programmes require training everyday for many many weeks. The barriers were also mostly mental and that we still don’t appreciate our actual limits which are plenty.
I’m signed up for Advance Freediver programme and look forward to how this shapes my freediving journey and gets me to work my edges more.