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My Way Into Freediving

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I was freelancing as a cameraman and sound engineer for Swedish television back in early 2000 and my good fortune landed me several jobs abroad, one being in Australia in 2003. It was here in the beautiful blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef where I was reconnected with the sea.

Having lost interest in scuba diving when I was younger, I now viewed the underwater world with the same artistic eye which I used while filming on land. Suddenly, I was looking at the marine life in another light. Maybe I had also grown as a person since my earlier scuba experiences. However, spending three months working with heavy camera sets in the warm, humid temperatures of Queensland, the last thing I wanted was to jump into the stunning reefs with yet more bulky gear. I began to think that surely I’d have enough air to freedive down to 10 metres, position my camera and take the shots I needed without the aid of a tank. It sounded rather simple but I was about to be proved very wrong. I was not a natural breath holder at all and I struggled to equalize. My bodies desire for oxygen felt almost painful, not the feeling I was expecting.

Back home in Stockholm I began searching for information on freediving as I realized that I needed to learn from a pro. It was hard to find any reliable information on the internet as the sport of freediving in 2004 was still very young. Finding training buddies was not easy back then and so I had to stick with swim training. I didn’t do much breath holding exercises until late 2005 when I began training static and dynamic with the safety assistance of the much obliging lifeguards. My aim was not to compete or to do well in the pool disciplines. I just wanted to be in the water, training my apnea skills.

I moved to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt in 2006 where I also did my scuba instructor course. Being in the ocean every day was a great feeling and I quickly hauled myself up to Dahab, which at the time was about the only place you could take a decent freediving course. It was a mind-blowing experience to enter the blue hole and see the descent lines of the freedivers training there. It looked amazing! I took a course to learn how to breathe and prepare myself for a dive. I wanted to become a better photographer and get close to the marine life. Never had I thought about the competitive side of it, it wasn’t for me. These guys I watched freediving into the depths of the blue hole, looked crazy to me. It was definitely not something I was going to do! A month later I entered my first competition…

I progressed quickly down to 60m but I was split between freediving and scuba diving. I did a few tech diving courses and today I hold trimix level certs on a few different rebreathers. To me rebreather diving and freediving have a lot in common, not only the obvious bubble free dives but also the awareness and closeness you get to the marine life.

I took a break from freediving in 2008 after doing my freedive instructor course. I still taught scuba in the cold Baltic Sea and furthered my education in cold water. But I missed the warm blue ocean and by late 2011 I moved back to the Red Sea.

Half a year later I was asked to coach a friend from Jersey. I was actually in El Gouna at the time. There was no real depth in that area so we decided to meet up in Sharm. I knew Matt from the early days, working as scuba instructors in Sharm, but now he had picked up freediving. He’d been stuck at 36 metres and desperate to reach 50 metres. He was really calm in the water and that was the main reason I agreed to coach him. As the days flew past and I was untying his problems I quickly got my love back for freediving and after only a week, he did a sweet 52m dive and I was completely hooked!

Last summer I trained with some talented freedivers in Dahab and ended the year with a nice 76m dive. Now I work a few days in the week and train 3-4 days, including coaching Allie who in return is a great inspiration and helps me on my technique. You never stop to learn. I have had some ear problems over the last few months, mainly one of my Eustachian’s has been giving me grief. I can equalize but it takes time and for a deep dive, you don’t want to waste time during the descent. Constantly returning to scuba is also not the ideal scenario. It is like low altitude training and we want high altitude… the benefits are that I endorse my dive response and my air consumption on scuba… well let’s just say it’s not very high.

But the next part of my story is so far un-written. I don’t believe in setting aims in depth but all I can do is my best and I look forward to competing for Sweden in the World Championships. We’ll keep you updated in the last few weeks in the run up to the Competition and hope our training is of help and interest to you.

Freediving Blogs

Jeff chats to… Breathwork Practitioner Hannah Goodman (Watch Video)

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In this Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman talks to Breathwork Practitioner Hannah Goodman about breathing correctly to enhance our diving experiences.

Find out more at https://grounded.life.

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Freediving Blogs

Swimming and snorkelling with Manatees

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We love manatees. And November is traditionally Manatee Awareness Month – a time to celebrate this iconic marine mammal and create awareness of the challenges they face. In this post, our friends at Effortless Outdoors share the manatee love and also some info on many of the best destinations to swim and snorkel with them around the world…

Manatees are really gentle, delightful sea creatures and getting a chance to see them up close should be on the bucket list of anyone who enjoys diving and snorkelling. They’re big beasts (typically weighing around half a ton) and they tend to move really slowly, making them ideal for underwater viewing.

They spend around 6-7 hours a day grazing, eating up to 15% of their body weight every single day. They use their front flippers for feeding; first using them to crawl along the ground, then for digging out plants and finally for scooping the vegetation into their mouths. It’s a pretty unique and involved way of feeding and very charming to watch. 

These awesome creatures can live up to sixty years. They are highly intelligent, capable of understanding discrimination tasks and associated items with one another. They have good long-term memory and have often been compared to dolphins concerning their capacity to learn tasks and develop mentally.

Populations of manatees are fairly low. Although they have no natural predators, they are threatened by human activities (they are often killed by ship accidents, as well as red tide and the accidental ingestion of fishing materials). The West Africa and Amazonian manatees are very rare. And scientists estimate there are about 13,000 West Indian manatees with their status modulating between ‘endangered’ and ‘threatened’.

West Indian manatees range up and down the east coast of the Americas (as far south as Brazil and as far north as Virginia) with many of the best viewing spots being well-served for those wanting a manatee experience.

Check out this post about the best places to swim and snorkel with manatees.


Want to read more about manatees? Check out Nick and Caroline’s magical manatee encounters in Crystal River, Florida in the latest Autumn 2019 issue of Dive Travel Adventures HERE!

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