I had it all planned: wind up the freediving season with two final weeks in Sharm, finish with a nice dive in a small competition, then head home tanned and healthy to face the crazed winter customers. All was going swimmingly, I did not catch any nasty colds in Berlin or London and thought I was home free - until I set foot on the premises of freediving world apnea center, that is. There, I was instantly infected with a killer virus, which knocked me out within 24 hours and is still with me four weeks later, thwarting the "healthy" bit of my plan long term!

Since the sinuses simply would not unblock themselves even though I stayed mostly dry, I decided to go for a novel experience on the final competition day by announcing – wait for it - 21m free immersion! In a dive time of 2min! Ha. Evil coach was ready to disown me, but I had the best time ever. It’s the shallowest official dive I have done since I started freediving, I stopped to equalize every 15cm and I was not nervous at all - amazing!

Stillness. Photo by Daan Verhoeven
People have asked me why I even bothered to compete. I just wanted to be out there and look after my freediving buddies and have a laugh. I think it’s essential to be a bit lighthearted around all of this and not take yourself too seriously. When things don’t go as planned I grumble and moan, but I don’t throw my toys out of the pram and it does not mean I can’t still smile and be happy with my friends. Otherwise, what could possibly be the point of it all? It’s not like I’m going to get rich here. The sea was lovely and even though I could barely leave the surface, I had those moments of stillness underwater that all of us love so much.

What else could there be? This is what it’s all about. Don’t ever forget to take in the colour of the sea around you, say hello to Luda the barracuda and smile at your freediving friends. Now I just have to get through Christmas bookshop madness – then it’s time for my other love: snowy mountain season! Wonderful (white) moments of stillness are to be had there, too, by the way.

And maybe a beer…or two…or three….!


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