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“In fact. But by learning simple techniques through basic training. the world record is in excess of 200m – confounding scientists who once believed that if man descended beyond 30m his lungs would collapse. Some liken the sport to practising a martial art.” Within a very short period of time.September-October 2010 Freediving FREEDIVING MIND. the sense of freedom is tangible as novices typically quickly achieve 45-second dives of 30m. conserving oxygen by restricting blood ﬂow to our extremities through slowing down the heart rate.” Adel Abu Haliqa of FreedivingUAE told us. and soon be gliding silently through the ocean’s deep in a state of total relaxation. this feel good factor is multiplied many times over. Without mechanical aids restricting movement or creating intrusive noise. Here in the Middle East many individuals are discovering the physical.both within themselves and the oceans that surround us. perception. “Anyone can freedive. a beginner can discover their latent freediving abilities. In The Greater Meaning of Water the makers tell the story of an athlete who journeys to his inner-most and the ocean’s depths. today individuals practice it as a holistic method of personal improvement. using freediving as relief from a chronic lung disease. BODY AND SOUL By Craig Barnett Photos Courtesy of FreedivingUAE and Fred Buyle O Gulf countries once relied on it economically. The ﬁlm portrays how a natural and potentially transformative sport actually improves the health and well being of the lead character. Welcome to the freediving renaissance. 27 . Think underwater yoga with the beneﬁts of observing breathtaking marine life thrown in! Somewhat surprisingly. individuals can discover a whole new dimension . The Greater Meaning of Water is the ultimate ‘feel good ﬁlm’ report spectators. In shunning the advice of Hollywood producers to ‘up the danger and drama’ by killing or critically injuring a character. An exhilarating non-adrenaline sport may sound like an oxymoron. discipline and control over your body. our body is designed to instinctively deal with sustained periods of holding our breath and depth – it’s called the Mammalian Dive Reﬂex. anyone who has held their breath underwater has already freedived. It has since been discovered that our bodies operate a ‘blood shift’ mechanism: when lung volume is reduced at depth our blood shifts into vessels around the lungs to compensate. In terms of depths. For participators in the sport. On July 10th the most important freediving ﬁlm since Big Blue premiered in Hollywood to rave reviews and a subsequent clutch of awards. Some freedivers actually report slowing their heart rate by as much as 50 percent and on the surface the breath-hold world record is an incredible eleven minutes. but the breathing exercises and relaxing techniques used during training and pre-dive actually have meditative qualities – while quickly achieving previously unimaginable immersion times and depths provides a burst of overwhelming satisfaction. as it improves lung capa- city and promotes deeper levels of awareness. erasing a week’s stress with each descent. mental and spiritual beneﬁts of breathold immersion. In physiological terms the body automatically optimises respiration.
The AIDA 2-Star course takes the student through to open water for vertical diving into the sea .” explains Abu Haliqa. National Freedive Record Holder Adel Abu Haliqa partners with Alex Boulting to run the AIDA approved FreedivingUAE club. “We’d recommend the AIDA 1-Star course for a complete beginner. You’d think inhaling and exhaling is a natural instinctive function. In the UAE. relaxation. the last surface breath and the appropriate recovery breaths to take on resurfacing. as well as practical practice in the pool. and AIDA 2-Star for someone who is generally conﬁdent in water (such as good swimmers and/or SCUBA divers). until you discover how ‘breathe’ all over again! 28 . “There is also a Discover Freediving Course for those who aren’t 100 percent sure about getting into the sport. During the course students learn about predive breathing techniques.FREEDIVINGUAE.Freediving CONTACTS : FREEDIVINGUAE WEB: WWW. it’s a bit of a test drive.” The courses all involve knowledge development through theory classes. taking qualiﬁed instruction and coaching from the start eliminates bad habits and reduces the risk of serious injury – or possibly fatal accidents.COM APPROXIMATE COSTS: DISCOVER FREEDIVING COURSE COSTS AED 800/ $220 (USD) AIDA 1-STAR COSTS AED 800/ $220 (USD) AIDA 2-STAR COSTS AED 2315/ $630 As when learning any new sport. both are fully qualiﬁed and insured instructors and host regular freediving courses.if the student meets the requirement to pass the course they’ll be diving to a depth of 16m (20m max) and hold their breath for 2 minutes. clinics and symposiums presented by world renowned athletes.
September-October 2010 Freediving FREEDIVING ACTIVITIES Freediving can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and for leisure activities or competitive events. then returns to the surface under their own power. self-awareness. If you want our advice? Take a deep breath and dive in. divers use a spring-loaded harpoon to hunt ﬁsh underwater. there are no restrictions on how a diver descends or ascends. it could just change your life. the diver can pull themselves along during the descent and ascent. Here are some examples: ■ SPEARFISHING: popular in the Middle East. so placing your life in another’s hands develops mutual respect. ■ VARIABLE WEIGHT: Using a weight (usually a sled attached to the guideline) the diver makes an accelerated descent. ■ CONSTANT WEIGHT: this discipline involves descending and ascending without the use of a rope or changing of ballast. professional environment. Freedivers rely on each other for safety. FreedivingUAE organise regular excursions for training and pleasure to Khorfakkan on the UAE’s eastern seaboard. Freediving brings me face to face with my inner self. To promote the social networking aspect of the sport.” Freediving is full of delicious juxtapositions. But it’s also an opportunity to develop emotionally and a way to ‘ﬁnd myself’. ■ SNORKELLING: One of the simplest and fun diving activities that most have enjoyed – but a little training and additional know how can turn the usual splash around on the surface into a full bore freediving adventure. Modern life is pretty hectic and it’s diﬃcult to ﬁnd those few precious moments to be alone with yourself – or more appropriately ‘within’ yourself. “It is an excellent medium for developing myself physically and makes it easier for me to choose a healthy lifestyle. A weighted sled is usually used for the descent and an inﬂatable bag for an accelerated return journey to the surface. 29 . evident from Abu Haliqa’s response to what the sport means to him. and while the self-development. providing me more of those precious moments. ■ FREE IMMERSION: using a vertical guide rope. The sole goal is to get down as deep as possible on the guide rope. Freediving is as close to flying as man can achieve unaided. ■ STATIC APNEA: Usually conducted in shallow water. • Discover another dimension and live life in 3D. The ‘without ﬁns’ version is considered the most physically challenging of AIDA’s competitive formats. trust and a special bond. “They’re a great opportunity experiencing freediving in a safe. to develop one's freediving skills in a friendly atmosphere and making new friends who share the same passion of the Blue. this simple ‘remain immersed as long as possible’ format is popular in competition. self-discipline and personal development all ﬁgure highly. it is also a very sociable sport. Each year Fazza (HH Sheikh Hamdan) holds an international competition in Dubai with big prizes. It’s the middle ground in diﬃculty terms between Constant Weight and Variable Weight in competitive terms. Discover and re-discovery is very much a theme in freediving. ■ NO LIMITS: As the name suggests.” enthuses Abu Haliqa.
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