So after years of wanting and not knowing, I was finally handed the opportunity to learn a bit more about the sport of freediving. My birthday surprise took me to a location close to Bath in Somerset, where Glebe House provided the facilities. The course leader Emma Farrell met me and three others there and provided us with a fantastic introduction into the history, techniques and safety aspects of the sport.
For me, this course has been a long time coming. I’ve been fascinated by the water and what’s in it, since I can remember. I know a lot of people who SCUBA dive regularly but have always resisted trying myself because I’m convinced the feeling cannot be as free or as natural as being under the water quietly ‘unsupported’. What little ‘free’ diving I have done has always felt like very natural, fun, exciting and where I want to be in the water (not to mention Free ££).
My first ‘lightbulb moment’ during the training came when I was formally introduced to the technique of abdominal or ‘belly’ breathing. I’d heard about this a while ago and have practised regularly on and off. Essentially it’s learning to prioritise the use of the diaphragm to expand the chest cavity to fill the lungs, as opposed to the intercostal muscles of the rib cage when passive breathing. It looks a bit funny when your belly sticks out (especially in public) but it really makes you appreciate that extra capacity you have for air to enter. Probably the most important and useful thing I took away from the course is an understanding for a good regulated preparation for a breath hold, called by those in the know a ‘breathe-up’. This is not something I was previously doing during my (amateurish) preparation for long breath holds and is probably the single thing that has allowed me understand my body more and helped to progress in the meantime.