Whist watching a truly amazing freediving video starring Guillaume Nery, I found myself actually holding my breath with him. How did he do it? How do people hold their breath for so long? I thought it was about time to find out, so I headed down to Kingswood Leisure centre in Bristol for a taster session with the Bristol Freedivers.
So what is freediving in very simple terms? Well once trained to freedive, competitions are held for freedivers to dive straight down in to the depths following a cable, the aim is to dive the deepest and return to the surface all on one breath. Its a popular growing sport too!
For me the thought of being able to hold my breath for a reasonable time was a real draw as it opens up all sorts of possibilities for other sports I love to do, including finswimming and snorkelling!
I arrived at the pool with an open mind to what we would be doing, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t alone either as I had arranged to meet a few other faces from the UK Active Outdoors site and also joining us were a group of people from across the area who had heard about the taster session. It’s nice not to be the only newbie all of the time!
After a warm welcome from the club members running the session we retreated to a small, quiet room and arranged ourselves into a seated circle. We discussed what we would be doing in the session and then started on some good stretching and breathing exercises. This was to loosen us up and help relax us. Then came the interesting stuff! Over the following half an hour we did various breathing exercises and even went outside for a walking/breathing technique. I have to say at the end of the first hour my understanding of how the techniques actually worked was a lot clearer and I really did feel more relaxed.
The second hour of the lesson was in the pool and it was time to put what we had learnt in to practice. With mask and flippers on we were split in to two groups, each doing different….. well games I suppose more than techniques as they were brilliant fun! We all were partnered off too, and some of the games were funny enough to make you laugh and retreat to the surface pretty quickly! I tried to film some of these as you will see in the video below, but I wanted to show as much as possible so not all of them are on there.
It seemed like a lot of fun and games, but all were techniques that help your body become more used to carbon dioxide and surviving with less oxygen. It was probably the most relaxed swimming session I have ever had too and I really felt like I was getting in to the right state of mind for freediving!
The session ended with everyone taking it in turns to do the breathing exercises, then lying face down in the water for 30 seconds. Once the 30 secs were up, our partner would tap us on the back, and without surfacing or taking a further breath, we had to swim under water as far as we could. To my utter amazement I managed to swim a whole length of the pool, and even then when I rose to the surface to touch the side I felt relaxed and fine!! A result for me on the taster session!
Unfortunately since this taster session my mind has been working overtime imagining what could be possible with more training, so watch this space!
If you would like to find out more about freediving check out the following links, and if you want to watch the short video of the taster, or watch the video starring Guillaume Nery that started all this off for me, see below!