I have my eyes shut tight and I’m freefalling headfirst. Equalize. Equalize. Equalize. I’m waiting for the tennis ball at the end of the dive line to break my fall and let me know that I’m 40 metres deep and one step closer to becoming a Freediving Instructor (for safety reasons, we dive with lanyards attached from the dive line to our wrists so that we are always connected to the dive line, and the tennis ball at the bottom of the line prevents the lanyard from slipping over it once we reach the depth we are diving to). One part of my mind is telling me to turn around but the part I’m intent on listening to is chanting, “You have more than enough oxygen” over and over.

At 40 metres my lungs compress to 1/5th the size they were at the surface and all of that pressure feels uncomfortable. But being in the eerie green darkness of the quarry makes any discomfort melt away into the silence of the water that surrounds me. I hit the ball, swing around and start finning to the surface. On the way up, the thought that I will soon be teaching others how to descend into the deep and experience being underwater on one breath of air makes me smile and I’m still smiling when two an a half minutes after the dive started, I break the surface and breathe again.

Our main passion at I AM WATER is to introduce people to the world beneath the surface of the water. Freediving is the best way to do that. It’s no coincidence that the I AM WATER Founder, Hanli Prinsloo is a freediving champion and extremely experienced Freediving Instructor. With Hanli as the inspiration, three of us from the IAW Team, Peter Marshall, Alana Beales and I, had the incredible opportunity to spend 2 weeks with John Daines of Pure Apnea and Cape Town Freediving training to become qualified Freedive Instructors.

It’s no easy task. With an intensive schedule of Theory and Practical requirements, I was intimidated and uncertain if I had it in me. I was mostly worried about the 2 deep dives to 40 metres in a quarry and the 100 metre dynamic, which means two underwater lengths 

underwater of an Olympic size swimming pool while wearing bifins. The amount of physiology we had to study and be able to teach also seemed extremely daunting, but I just kept reminding myself that freediving is what I live and breathe (well, not breathe most of the time!) and surely that would make the 2 weeks a lot easier?

Thankfully I was right. It was both physically and mentally challenging (and exhausting at times), but becoming a teacher of your greatest passion, turns the challenge into a blessing. The human body is designed for and adapted to freedive and it’s incredible to learn more about the depths we are capable of achieving and the access to the underwater world one breath of air can give us. I was also surprised by my own capabilities and how much easier it becomes when you have a great teacher, a supportive team and people who believe in you.

After 2 weeks of deep dives, countless lengths underwater in a swimming pool, hours of lying still and holding our breath, daily stretching sessions, very creative theory presentations, multiple exams and a lot of laughs, all three of us are now qualified to teach freediving courses. And they’re going to be courses with a difference. The funds that we raise from the courses will go back into running outreach programmes for adults and children who would never usually have the opportunity to put a mask on their face, a snorkel in their mouth and fins on their feet and see for themselves how magical the underwater world is. I know from exploring this world myself that it is only by spending time underwater that we can begin to understand why it is crucial to protect.

Why not book a freediving course with 

I AM WATER and we will help you to discover what I mean. Like me, you’ll find it’s easier than you think.

~ Beth Neale | January 2015


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