With the upcoming 2018 CMAS World Championships in October, we will be profiling each of the members of 2018 Team America. Enjoy their stories. Get to know them, and we hope that you find a nugget of inspiration from their story.
How long you’ve been freediving?
I've been freediving since April 2014.
What, or who, inspired you to freedive?
I was on the underwater hockey team in Dar es Salaam and one day we couldn't play because the pool was closed, the school campus was being fumigated. So, we all decided to go freediving at a nearby shipwreck. That was the first time I ever saw anyone freediving and it was the first time I even heard about freediving!!
I was just blown away by how these guys could hold their breath for so long and swim inside of and all around the shipwreck! (You can see the video of that day here) It looked so easy, so incredibly beautiful and natural, yet it came so difficult for me! I couldn't equalize head-down and didn't know anything about techniques for relaxed breath holding (underwater hockey is a different story!)
So even though I couldn't freedive more than a few meters at the time, it didn't deter me the slightest - I love a challenge! The second I arrived home I looked up "freediving" and it was like discovering a whole new world I never knew existed.
Several months earlier, I got heavily engaged in underwater photography and spent a lot of time in the water, like 2-4 hours per day - snorkeling, doing shallow freediving and scuba diving while taking pictures of fish, jellyfish, corals and other marine life. I loved the combination of being in the water, doing sport / physical activity while doing something creative like underwater photography. That's pretty much how I spent my first two years of freediving, recreational freediving as we call it, doing several trips around Africa and in the USA to take pictures/videos of fish, whale sharks, sharks etc. which I posted on my blog/website www.seaunseen.com.
Eventually I decided that I just had to take a freediving course because I wanted to learn how to hold my breath longer so that I could take better pictures of fish, I was frustrated because I couldn't seem to last for more than a minute or two underwater. I had no intention to do deep freediving or line diving at the time as the desire for depth came much later.
Why do you freedive, and what has it done for you?
Now I focus on competitive freediving rather than recreational freediving. I enjoy more so the challenge of competitive freediving, as well as the learning, the sensations, the lifestyle and the self-development. Every day and every dive is different which makes it super interesting and super addictive.
I like experimenting and discovering what works for me and me alone in my training; many times, going against some of the norms in freediving training. This isn't me trying to be different or radical, but in fact the opposite. It's about respecting and trusting in myself, my intuition and my training.
I know from experience (aka from a lot of trial and error!!), I know what freediving techniques, what morning / evening preparation, what foods, what training schedule, what recovery time, supplements etc. work for me, so I go by that - not by what everyone else is doing.
This, I think is the key in freediving, first figuring out what it is that stops me specifically at a particular depth, as everyone is different, then finding and trying-out solutions to overcome it. It's only through this process that I can find solutions to break through the barriers. And it might take weeks, months or even years to surpass a certain depth, but well that's just how it is :)
The upside though, is that most of what stops me is purely mental, not physical, and that mental block is the same thing that stops me in many other areas of my life. So, in a way, the better a freediver I become, the more I develop myself everyday living more powerfully, courageously and more fully self-expressed.
So that's why I freedive. I find freediving is a vehicle for self-discovery and self-cultivation and also because I really enjoy the sensations of being deep in the water.
What are your future freediving goals?
My future goals are to train and do well in the CMAS World Championship this October.
In the past few years I've been focused mostly on the free-immersion discipline because it's my favorite, but for the World Championship I would like to compete in all four disciplines. This entails that my training plan for the next 3-4 months is well organized and thought-out so that I properly train the constant weight and no-fins disciplines as well as improve upon my free-immersion dives.
It also means that my health, recovery and nutrition are top priority, as obviously, I cannot train or compete if I get sick! So, I'm going to be a bit of a health-nut these next few months. Haha!!
What is your profession and other hobbies?
By profession I'm a freediving instructor in Dahab, Egypt. I teach freediving part of the year when I'm not training heavily.
I also have a website www.freediving.life which has freediving resources, a blog and equipment for freediving. I sell high-end freediving wetsuits, fins and apparel through the website's online shop that helps support my training.
My hobbies - I enjoy many things in life, not just freediving! I like working-out, singing, drawing, designing, underwater photography / videography and writing poetry and stories which I post on my blog at www.reneeblundon.com.
What advice about freediving would you like to offer readers?
I'd suggest to respect the process and to enjoy yourself in the water. Many times, I see people take a freediving course, one after another and another, trying only to go deeper and deeper, and I feel they really miss out on the magic of being underwater on a single breath of air.
Especially when you first start freediving, I'd suggest spending time enjoying the water and having fun freediving along the coral reefs, with fish and dolphins if you can. I don't think I'd still be freediving today were it not for those first few years of recreational freediving.
Freediving into a blue underwater world on breath-hold with all these beautiful fish, the underwater seascapes and interesting creatures are the early experiences that earned a special place in my heart. This is at the core of my passion for freediving. I was also going through a bit of a tough time in my personal life, so I found those underwater moments quite meditative and healing.
So, I'd strongly recommend that you explore and discover the magic that freediving offers you for pleasure and not focus at all on how deep you go.
Wanna hear more from Renee, take a look at this video interview.