If you want to try freediving, take a recognized freediving course. Never, ever freedive alone or without an experienced dive buddy.
Amongst the garbage-filled, dusty streets and bustling crowds of Sharm el-Sheikh, there is one place where you can find some calm and solitude: the ocean – and that’s why I came. Well, for that and my boyfriend!
Rolf has been working as a scuba instructor in Sharm for the past five years. I met him at a Freediving competition in Dahab eight months ago. He was pushing 80m in Free Immersion at the time (a freediving discipline where you pull on a rope to descend and ascend), almost double what I had been diving. But I made two clean dives to 40m in Free Immersion and 45m in Constant Weight (Using a monofin to decend and ascend) and that secured my place in the British team for the Depth World Championships the following summer.
Allie breathing up and getting ready to dive.
For the Swedish men’s team, it wasn’t so easy but Rolf secured his place on the team with a solid 70m dive in Free Immersion and 50m in Constant Weight No Fins.
Rolf ascending from a Constant Weight No Fins dive.
And here we are, three months to go before the championships; I’ve left my Design job in London, moved to Sharm and now we’re ready to train hard for the World Freediving Championships 2013!
Photo by Paul Wennerholm
We’ll be updating this blog every week with our training progress, lack of progress, injuries and all things that come with the sport of Freediving! We hope this blog about the life of a freediver and our preparations for the World Championships is insightful.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN!
In 2008 I was working as an Underwater Camera Operator and this brought me to Egypt for the first time. I’d come from a tranquil, beautiful paradise island in Thailand where I’d been working for the previous couple of years. I left the land of smiles to take up a job to film the World Freediving Championships for several TV Channels in Sharm. Arriving in the harsh landscape of barren desert mountains and dealing with the angry frowns of abrupt Egyptian taxi drivers in their manic rush to bag the next customer could not have been more of a contrast from where I’d come from; the soft, luscious, palm-filled landscape and welcoming faces of South West Thailand. But nevertheless, I was excited about filming my first job for television, and was ready for a new adventure.
Photo by Katie Dann
Kitting up on the boat, I hauled my scuba tank onto my back, the weight pulling me down in the baking Egyptian sun. I looked out at the freedivers slipping effortlessly into the water and gliding elegantly through the waves in their monofins. They looked like they belonged there and I was in awe. But the question remained in my mind, why would anyone want to hold their breath for that long? Full of curiosity, I grabbed my camcorder and jumped in. Over the next few days of filming the Championships, my questions only became more numerous as I watched freedivers disappearing into the depths of the sea. Why would anyone want to do this? Frustratingly for me, this was a question that would remain unanswered for several more years.
In 2010, I was back living in London, working as a Graphic Designer and missing filming underwater in a very big way. It was then that I decided to put my time in the bustling metropolis to good use; I was going to put my fins back on and learn to freedive! I hated holding my breath and so the thought of freediving didn’t fill me with much joy. However, the thought of being able to get close enough to film a whale while holding my breath really did! I knew that moment would one day come, and when it did, I made sure I would be ready!
Incidentally, it was my freediving club that, a year later, sent me to film the Sardine Run in South Africa, and it was there where I finally filmed my first whale! She was a beautiful 9m humpback whale and she was very inquisitive. She swam right next to me, so close that her eye filled half my camcorder screen. I freedived with her for about 15 minutes, my heart was racing but my smile was huge. There was something special about diving with such an intelligent animal; sharing a moment, swimming together and watching each other with interest.
Photo by David Jones
Image from ‘The Sardine Run’ by Allie Crawford
My Freediving Buddy Sam Still, hangs out with the curious Humpback Whale.
I’d fallen in love with freediving in the pools around London over the last year, because of the calm, medative feeling it gives, but this moment made me fall in love with freediving in a completely different way, in a way where I felt I was part of nature instead of an outsider looking in.
It’s hard to explain the feeling you get from freediving. To understand it, you have to try it and discover that feeling for yourself; whether it’s the calm, relaxed feeling you get in the pool after a hectic day in the office, or the triumphant satisfaction of pushing your body deeper and deeper, metre by metre into the abyss of the ocean. For me, it was all of the above, and I was completely addicted!
Since then, the sport has transformed my life in so many ways. I exercise more, I feel healthier, I’m more focused, I hardly ever drink, my freediving friends have become like family and now it’s led me away from my life in London completely and opened up a new adventure for me here in the crystal clear waters and coral reefs of Sharm el-Sheikh. It’s here where the journey to the Championships begins…