Big Blue Freediving Emerges
Freediving is any of various aquatic activities that share the practice of breath-hold underwater diving. Examples include breathhold spear fishing, freedive photography, apnea competitions and, to a degree, snorkeling. The activity that garners the most public attention is competitive apnea, an extreme sport, in which competitors attempt to attain great depths, times or distances on a single breath without direct assistance of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba).
Recent interest in this sport has caused dive schools to look at this side of diving as a great alternative to traditional underwater interaction. A recent article in the Times about Freediving in Koh Tao reviewed the sport, the island and the local leaders in free diving; Apnea Total. In the article Guyan Mitra says:
By the end of the two-day course, I was comfortable at 20 metres, a depth that had sounded inconceivable 48 hours earlier. Plus, I was able to dive Ko Tao’s newest underwater site. A boat had recently sunk — without casualty, thankfully — creating a modern wreck around which a kaleidoscope of tropical sea life was investigating.
Using my new-found skills, I was able to probe and glide in and around the wreck, just like my fellow fish. Not quite a merman, but getting there… definitely getting there.
That article in its entirety can be found here
Additional interest was generated from the inflight magazine for Bangkok Airways; “Fah Thai” where photo journalist and fellow technical diving enthusiast Ayesha Cantrell reports about the growing trend of breath hold diving growing on Koh Tao. In the report Ayeasha says:
Go scuba diving around Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand and you may encounter a mermaid. Propelled by her monofin to depths of 50 metres on a single breath of air, Monica Ganame is the nearest you’ll get to meeting one of these mythical creatures underwater.
The Argentinian-born professional free diver wears no air tank or other bulky scuba gear – instead, Monica can hold her breath for up to six minutes and explore the underwater world in its truly natural state. The absence of dive equipment not only allows Monica to interact much more closely with marine life, but also to feel a part of the ocean herself.
Ayesha is referring to Monica Ganame who is co-owner of Apnea Total on Koh Tao, that article can be found here
One of Apnea Totals protege’s is Jeroen Marteens who became a freediving instructor through their school. Jeroen is your typical freediving instructor; Tall, slim and appears to be someone who likes his yoga and perhaps a bit of incense. Jeroen join the Big Blue Family to start our Big Blue Freediving department and has been very busy ever since. With maximum 3 people per course.
Jeroen will be taking out members of the Big Blue Tech team for their freediving course later this month, although there were grumblings between wearing 6 cylinders or none at all it is a fringe and extreme side of scuba diving so technical diving and freediving have quite a lot of similarities.