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A Day in the Life of a Freediver

A day in the life of a freediver is a collection of my perceived details, thoughts and emotions in my reunion with the ocean.

Mornings Near the Ocean

Blink, blink. My eyes would search for a sign of day break. It’s untrue ’til I see a sign of light – maybe streaks of sunlight or just a pale purple melting into a powder blue sky before me.

Few more tossing and turning or maybe a snooze.

The awakening of senses truly takes time in a slow and easy morning as I let each of it savor every element of the place – the salty air, the cool ocean breeze, the soft splashes at the shore, mountain ranges from afar or maybe an endless horizon where the sky kisses the sea, the crowing of the roosters…

Unzip. I’m freed from being cocooned in my hammock, or in the sleeping bag inside the tent sometimes. There is something about a slumber in a tent or hammock by the ocean that would make me choose it as always over spending a night in an air-conditioned room. It is my great yearning and enthusiasm for the nature, perhaps – the reunion with the outdoors where I feel most alive.

A freediver’s morning view

I would always love to feel the earth against my sole. So, I always choose to walk around barefoot near the ocean; the the pebbles and sand being washed in the gaps between my toes by the tiny waves. The waters would also give me those warm morning tickles. The scent of the brine lingers as I soak into the glorious morning by the sea.

Ocean Check

If there’s one thing that we would not wish to wake up to on Freediving days, it’s the sound of the waves coupled with continuous powerful gusts of the wind. Also, the aftermath-of-twenty-shots-of-Tequila kind of current would mean a great sigh and disappointment. Small gentle waves that make the tiny shells and pebbles roll back to the shore are perfectly fine. The ocean is still inviting in that way.

Our most favorite scene would be the ocean being calm and silent; its surface being flat and undisturbed. Further, it would be more lovely if we could see the seabed clearly from where we are standing. It’s a stimulus that automatically draws sunshine into our faces as a form of response.

A friendly reminder for every diver

More often than not, we would choose to dive before breakfast especially if we have seen how calm the ocean is. Well, she is quite unpredictable. One moment, it is just what we all wish her to be. The next thing we know, she has decided to play with her tides, currents and visibility.

Gear Up, Suit Up!

After some breathing exercises and stretching, we would then start gearing up while some of us are suiting up. We would pass around a bottle of baby shampoo and apply a drop or two on our masks’ lenses. In the absence of the shampoo, we would resort to using toothpaste. These hacks really prevent the fogging of the lenses. As we let the mask with the shampoo or the toothpaste sit for a while, we’d lavishly spread sunscreen onto our sun-kissed skin. Lastly, we would pull out our long fins of various colors and materials and head to the waters.

Been exploring the depths with my SUBEA freediving gear from Decathlon Philippines

Before walking into the shore, we would wash off the shampoo or toothpaste, wear our masks. Then, we’ll swim a little farther so we’d be able to wear our fins without hurting them (if you know what I mean).

Line and Depth Training

Upon reaching that exact spot where the depth seems unfathomable, we gather around the buoy as the three of us simultaneously unknot the rope and safely drop the weights. The thing about these experienced freedivers we’re with is that, they know how to make a fix: how deep exactly should the weights go and where to drop it.

Then, once it’s set, we’d float in there steadying our breaths. When one is ready, the coach would put the lanyard on one of his wrists with the dive computer. Then, in his descent, the safety divers would follow. In his ascent and recovery, one of us gets the turn to dive in depths.

As we float in there gazing upon them until they disappear in the abyss, we slow down our heartbeats with the thoughts of how deep can we go today occasionally coming in. Of course, we would want to beat our own personal bests. Every training is a chance to improve ourselves.

An ascending lady freediver
Ascending from the deep

A Journey into the Blue World

Making it into a depth that I have never reached before is quite rewarding. However, there is something priceless that the journey into the blue world further offers. One of the best feelings when freediving is when we start freefalling. Though the density of the brine makes us seem weightless, there’s a certain depth from below where our bodies would just fall freely without even trying, as if it’s giving into its weight. Believe me; it is almost close to flying.

A freediver seemingly weightless underwater
Freedom and weightlessness in the blue world
Freediving gear from Decathlon Philippines

As I close my eyes and fall deeper, the cold pierces through my skin but the the silence becomes more comforting. From that point, it stops being about the depth that I aim to reach but how beautiful and comforting the ocean makes me feel in one breath. These are the reasons why I would often find myself longing for the blue world. This is how freediving actually helps me deal with stress and anxiety.

It feels really good to be diving deeper not until the contraction kicks in – the reminder that I don’t belong to that world. That’s when I’d take the turn for my ascent back to reality.

a freediver ascending through the diving line
Ascending back to reality

The Retreat

After an hour or two of a tiring yet satisfying dive, we would then swim back to the shore. On some days, the retreat is smooth. However, there are those days when the current is outbound which makes it harder for us to swim back.

At the “headquarters”, we would take a shower and wash off the saltwater from our gear. After that, we would dine together then we could go on with how we want to spend our free time. Some of us would go in small groups and socialize while some would spend time on their own; maybe get some sleep, read or mindlessly scroll through their social media dashboards.

Fun Dives

A lady freediver seated in front of a sunken jeepney driver underwater
Part of our fun dives is playing at the dive spots nearby the training area

We often go for fun dives in the afternoon. This is to reward ourselves for a good training or to just merely chill. We do not always get to spend most of our days near the ocean so we’d better make the most out of it. Train now, fun dive later!

Since we usually dive around Batangas, here are the dive sites that we usually go for fun dives.

There are days when the current is on our favor and it would let us stay longer in the waters. When it does, we tend to enjoy the gorgeous golden sunset right there and then. It is quite a way to end the day.

A Day in the Life of a Freediver, In a Nutshell

That’s how a day in the life of a freediver goes. We wake up, dive, eat, rest, socialize and repeat. This is indeed my most favorite as it gives me a break from my life’s actual tiring everyday routine.

When we change into suits and gear up for a dive, we also strip a part of reality off us – the battles, struggles, deadlines or basically a part of who we are that would weigh us down. If we won’t get it off completely, the ocean would take it away from us. That’s how the ocean and this sport heal us. This is why freediving is more than just what it is for me – it has become my life’s balancing element.

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

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