21 Jun

Freediving in Amed

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Tanks? No Thanks…

And so begins my introduction to freediving (single breath hold diving). As part of every Divemaster internship at Blue Season, all the interns get to take part in an overnight  AIDA level 1 freediving course led by the very talented Oli Christen from Freedive Flow Bali. Our 2 days of diving and freediving began with a group session in the pool where we learned relaxation techniques and practiced static apnea (breath hold while floating in the pool). Suprisingly, all of us could hold our breath for quite a long time after only a few practices. A couple of us even managed to get past the 2 minute mark after only 1 try.

After proving our worth as breath hold masters we set out in Amed bay to take the skills we learned in the pool into the open water. As Instructor Oli set up the diving buoy, he let down a rope marked with depth measurement which we were meant to dive along. You can imagine my hesitation as the weights at the bottom of the line disappeared into the blue below us. In a level 1 course students are allowed to descend no deeper than 20 meters. Our initial line was let down to 16 meters.  As I quickly learned, vertical freediving presents a lot more challenges than static breath holding in the pool. In addition to controlling the urge to breathe, a freediver also has to think about proper duck diving form, equalization, fin kicking and orientation. I also learned very quickly that I’m not a very good freediver L Even pulling myself down the line, I only managed to make it about 6 or 7 meters before equalization problems forced me to turn around. Thank goodness DMT Alyssa was there to redeem our group by hitting not only the 16m mark but then hitting 20m by the time the session was over. Under Oli’s guidance we all managed to push our limits and enjoy the feeling of silently gliding much deeper than we ever though we would go without a tank strapped to our back. It truly was an amazing experience to feel so free underwater.

Of course, being a Blue Season trip there was also plenty of SCUBA diving. In total we did 4 dives in Amed bay including a night dive (successfully led by yours truly). Amed has many artificial reefs to explore and plenty of aquatic life to see, much of it at a depth of 6 meters or less (great for air consumption). Some of the highlights of the trip were giant schools of batfish both adult and juvenile, huge schools of fusiliers, lionfish and scorpion fish galore, and tons of interesting macro like blunt decorator crabs, pigmy cuttlefish and Durban dancing shrimp. The weather was a little bit rainy (well actually is poured almost the whole time) but who cares when you’re under the waves.

If you are in Bali and are interested in trying out freediving (I highly recommend it), you can get a hold of Oli at www.balifreedive.com or on his facebook page at “Freedive Flow.”

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