What was it all about?
The crew at BigStyle are no strangers to the sea and we feel we know it fairly intimately, but a weekend of freediving gave us a whole new perspective and appreciation for the abundance under Ireland’s waves.
We spent the morning in the classroom learning the theory of it all – coming from a background of adrenaline fuelled sports it was an incredible reversal of mindset to realise that this sport was all about slowing down, focusing the mind and deep relaxation… think yoga rather than base-jumping.
Then we took to the deep to practise our new found skills. Firstly in Killary Fjord where we found ourselves climbing upside down on a vertical descent of a 10 metre rope, and then off the sea cliffs of Old Head Co. Mayo where we swam through the kelp jungles surrounded by thousands of silvery fish.
I managed to actually relax under water, I slowed my breath, and with no sense of urgency held on to a thick branch of seaweed 5 metres down. Then I simply allowed the ocean to continue around me as it always has done, as if I wasn’t there at all.
I really felt some progress when we did a static breath hold face down in the water and, using some meditation techniques from our theory classes, we all managed to double if not triple the length of time we could hold our breath.
Then, as mentioned above, to apply that relaxation and newly found abundance of time in order to immerse myself in an unhurried way at depth was a magical experience.
Not being able to equalise properly.
This really diminished my experience and not only stopped me from going deep but also took up a lot of my headspace whereby I couldn’t always be present in the experience.
What I’ve learned for next time
Just like all worthwhile things this will take work to properly get the hang of.
I think I went in with the mindset that I’d be taking up permanent residence at the bottom of the sea, while, of course, it will take me some time to really get the hang of it – starting with my equalisation technique
3 out of 5
It’s totally accessible for everyone and is less reliant on physical fitness and stamina than other sports we take part in. The reason it went up from a 2 to a 3 on the difficulty level is the mental fortitude and patience it requires. A worthy and rewarding challenge for any age or ability as you can take it at whatever pace suits.
A lot of bits are provided on the course and we could have rented a lot of other bits from our wonderful instructors, but we needed some gear of our own. Here’s the rundown:
Snorkel and mask
Thick wetsuit – we saw the wisdom of the 7mm freediving specific suits three hours into our session. We were in 5mm winter surfing suits in late August and we still got quite chilly.
Wetsuit boots, hood and gloves
Fins (they go by the name of flippers to some)
A spear gun (optional extra)
A buoy, ropes, clips and loads of other bits were provided as communal gear by the instructors
Who to talk to about it
Dave and Charlie are a lovely couple not to mention enthusiastic, fun and very capable instructors. We really enjoyed our time with them and hope to do some more stuff with them very soon.
Here’s where to find them.