Monday, 19 August 2013


Since the ORIS video has gone online, I have had many positive reactions, as well as some speculations and comments on the meaning of the voiceover. First things first: the text was written by Pietro Federico, a scriptwriter and poet. This was a perfect match, since one of my loves in life (aside from the water...and snowboarding...and shoes...and coffeeeeeeee) is poetry. Someone commented on the last line: "Dive...Now is the time" as in how this was scillfully inserted into a watch commercial - hahaha!

Fact is: neither Pietro nor I ever thought about "time" in this context at all. The text, including the last line, is the result of a long conversation we had, talking about what happens before, during and after a dive, what I feel and what it is that has drawn me to the depths since I was a child. Reading the observations of others has made me think about Pietro's words, and how well they express what I tried to relate to him.

Reflected in Pietro's poem is what has been fascinating me since the first time I put my head under water: The second I leave the surface, the world is left behind. Its' worries, cares, joys, anything at all, have ceased to be. It is an experience of intense freedom, while at the same time intense connection to what I am doing. I challenge myself - and to me, it is of great importance that this is personal, is mine - and within this challenge I discover myself and my place in the sea. It is a moment of joy. A moment that belongs to me alone. Free of everything.

Leave the surface
Leave all failures, attempts,
Your dreams not fully dreamt.
Challenge your thirst
Your own desire
And in that thirst you'll find a deeper thirst
In that desire,
A deeper desire.
And it will be as though you'd never wept.
So leave your fears behind,
Free your mind,
And dive into the depths.

One of the essential things in freediving is the moment in which you have to commit yourself to your dive. This is similar to many other "extreme" sports - a skydiver leaps from the plane, a cliffdiver from the rock, an extreme skier throws himself down the mountain, etc etc. But -  a skydiver needs to just work up the nerve to take the leap - he has crossed the threshold, the decision over, there is no turning back. This is different for us freedivers - we have to continue to submit ourseves to what we do. I can stop and turn with every kick of my fin, brake every meter the sled draws me down towards the bottom. Until I reach my target, the maximum depth, I can still abort the dive early, give up, quit. This is one of the reasons that freediving is, before anything else, an enormous effort of the mind.

Before I dive, I go deeper and deeper into concentration, until I finally take the last breath, hold still for a second, and leave the surface. From this moment, I have to commit myself to the ocean, mind, body, everything. Without this, you cannot dive successfully to such extremes. You take the last few breaths, and in your mind, cross a line, a line that is yours to cross and no one elses.
It is time to dive.

Find freedom in a step
Beyond your fear.
Feel the blessing
Of every single breath
And cross the line
That no one sees
But you.
And when you return
From the silent depth,
No one can take the freedom
You carry deep inside.

Now is the time.

The thing I love about this video is that it actually shows one of the most beautiful dives I have ever done. It was perfect in every way, one of those rare moments in life when what you have been working hard for is suddenly flawless. The sea was stunning that day. This is what I have been diving for, with or without tanks, for years.

Wake up call tomorrow is at 05:30am. Maybe it will be one of those mornings!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Chaos Day

First things first: after two and a bit weeks of training, I tricked my coach who has been taming my (typical freediver) desire to push for more depth - focusing on building strength and adaptation instead - ignored my depth alarm which was supposed to stop me in 75m and sailed to the plate to swim 80m back up. The next big number! Feels good to have done a pb and thanks to all the pain in the gym and to the evil coach training approach, it was a nice and easy dive. Hurrah!

Since evil coach is merciless, he put the 75m I did not do yesterday on the plan for today. Going out there, it soon became obvious that today was simply not going to go according to plan: I started the session with contractions after 42sec on my warm-up. Next, I went to sit on the pool noodle, ready for my dive, lanyard clipped on, only to realize that I was not wearing my mask. It was still safely on the platform. Having rectified this small mistake, I started the descent, only to be hit by a massive contraction before the freefall, losing the mouthfill and turning in 65m. Needless to say, I did not enjoy the way up either. Even evil coach saw that I was a liability and suggested some repetitions to 30m without weights instead.

After a bit of rest, I slid off the platform only to realize that the seam of my pants had produced two holes: one on the back of my upper thigh, one on my right bum cheek. For a very good reason, kicking was now out of the question, opening the holes any further to be avoided at all costs. The boys suggested that they would look the other way, but I was having none of it! After some discussion, I agreed to do some FIM dives, testing my new weighting. Preparing for the dive on the noodle, the mask fogged up, so I took it off, cleared it, put it back on and thought: "hmmmmm...I was sure I had my snorkel..." Looked down to spot snorkel leisurely sinking away in 15m. Took half a breath, leapt off the noodle and swam after it. As it was also drifting along with the current, ended up doing constant no fins to 20m together with a dynamic no fins which had me surfacing on the outside of the other platform, where evil coach was busy fixing the sled for Will. Faced with my explanation as to what I was doing there, he shook his head and said: "Ok - you are going home!!"

Back at the center and safely out of the water, I made Will laugh with my tale of chaos diving. He headed off to train, I headed off to remove my suit in the shower (which happens to be located out of the backdoor of the center and down a corridor, under the hotel swimming pool). Stepping out, I realized that I did not have my towel. I did not have my bikini. I did not have my shorts. I had nothing but my suit with the torn pants. Made a dash for the center changing rooms, half hiding behind my wetsuit, fortunately without encountering the Egyptian cleaner, and thought: phew! This has to be it! Got dressed and took my banana, milk, water bottle and spoon through to the table to have breakfast. Realized I have left my muesli behind. Got up to go fetch it, picked up my iphone, went back to the table, sat down, picked up the spoon and thought: something is missing.

Muesli was still in my cupbaord. Had my iphone instead.

Have gone home, locked the door and will not leave the house - for NOTHING!!