The second thing people usually ask me is what it feels like to freedive. It’s hard to describe, but the sensation of diving deep is phenomenal. It’s such a different kind of quiet. A way of connecting with the ocean in one breath, the world slows down and becomes more focused and silent. As you go deeper your body becomes compressed with building pressure as the water becomes denser than the air in your lungs, so you get this sense of the ocean almost holding you tighter and tighter and tighter in this great embrace.
Physiologically, when we freedive the body triggers an incredible adaptation we have for being underwater called the ‘Mammalian Dive Response’. The first thing that happens is bradycardia, which is the slowing down of the heart rate. The second thing is vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels to reduce blood flow) with the centralisation of blood flow to the core. And finally you get the spleen response, where the spleen constricts and releases haemoglobin-rich blood into the bloodstream.
Freediving also highlights just how powerful our breath is. Breathing helps manage our heart rate, anxiety and how we approach challenging situations in our everyday life. Breath works like a bridge between freediving and our everyday lives. It proves that while incredible things are possible, there are always limitations. That’s why I truly believe that to be successful, within life or sports, you need to be able to find that fine line between what is possible and what’s actually impossible and not worth pursuing.