My obsession with freediving started in the clear turquoise waters of Hagi, situated on the northern coast of Japan. In the 2 hour car ride from Yamaguchi to Hagi in a friends car, traveling through mountainside passes, passing small villages and rice fields, I remember my father stories recounting his time in Japan, recalling the majestic seas which were teaming with life.
Glancing at the bottom, some 15 feet away, my body feels warm with the sun resting at my back. I can see an underwater landscape, as beautiful as what is above, yet unexplored. Taking a breath, I begin my descent, my skin kissed by the cold waters, my body reacts with a tightness as I continue the descent. Reaching the bottom, with only a few previous seconds of H2O, I look into a small underwater overhang and am met with eyes looking directly back at me. I’m caught in the playful gaze of a small Sea bass. His playful demeanor is amusing, as I watch him move ever so slightly left to right, as he maintains his stability in this underwater world. He does not scare nor even seem startled, as I stare at him. My lungs constrict, gently telling me I must leave him as I return to my world. Leaving Hagi that day, I was driven to gain access to this underwater world. Upon returning to the U.S. I found a way…
It almost feels as if I’m choking as my diaphragm violently spasms against my lungs, almost forcing me to gasp. My descent stalls, as the tightness in my chest becomes uncomfortable. With wide eyes and dilated pupils, I shoot a glance across the bright yellow descent rope and into the watchful gaze of Rik Edstrom, my PFI freediving instructor. Its a feeling I have never felt before, but I remember the words of Rik “You have a lot more air left than you think.” I can almost see the expectation in his eyes urging me to continue on, silently convincing me that I will be able to hit the target depth of 66ft. Momentarily, I’m awash in in a mental fortitude which urges my body back into realignment towards the depths as I push towards the rocky bottom of Dutch Springs Quarry. My gaze once fixed on the eyes of Rik, catches a white carp swimming on the bottom, just feet below the yellow depth plate my hand must contact.
The rope, resembling barbers pole as I descend, suddenly changes into white and black alternating bars. I’m close, now only a few feet away. My lungs, now feeling depleted of air, seem as though they are sucking air out of my throat. I begin to arrest my descent, by tucking in my knees and bringing my body into a slow turn. The depth plate just out of my grip, I outstretch my arm and with my fingers extended and contact the plate signaling my successful descent to 66ft.
Since that day in the cerulean waters of Dutch Spring, I’ve learned a great deal about free-diving and capabilities of my body; the mechanism which we use to dive and that which we must cherish most. I’ve had the pleasure to diving in a few places since then, including a place called “Half Moon” in Mexico and although the dives are getting easier and my body more akin to the pressure changes as I descend, I am still viscerally aware of how careful I must be as I take my rank as one of the countless land mammals plunging into the depths on one breath of air, straddling a line between two worlds.
–My body yearns to once again peer into the “doorway to the deep.”–
If you in the Philadelphia area, sign up for a course with Rik. It will absolutely be one of the best experiences of your life. http://www.revolutionfreediving.com/