Cayman dive company trains US freedivers

| 01/04/2016
CNS Local Life

US freediving students visit the Guardian of the Reef (Photo courtesy of East Coast Divers)

(CNS): Divetech and the Lighthouse Point resort recently hosted a week-long training camp for US freedivers. Followers of this sport hold their breath until resurfacing rather than using scuba gear, saying they enjoy being in the water in its purest form and in total freedom.

“It’s one of the fastest-growing aspects of the dive industry,” said Nick Fazah of East Coast Divers in Boston, Massachusetts, and SSI Freediving training director. Fazah travels worldwide training freedivers and teaching classes and, teaming up with Divetch, he organised his first training camp in the Cayman Islands, saying it won’t be his last.

“Freediving is new and exciting – it has that edge and requires a certain level of physical endurance,” Fazah said. “For most people freediving is a personal challenge.”

Divetech’s Jo Mikutowicz, an avid free diver, agreed. “It’s a very quiet sport and it takes a lot of focus and concentration within yourself,” she said. “As soon as you go below the surface of the sea everything is silent and your brain will want to give up before your body does, so mental focus is very important.”

All together, 24 freedivers from Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona and California spent 19-26 March in Cayman sharpening their skills.

Training camp included pool work and classroom presentations at the dive shop, and a lot of time in deep water just offshore. The dive site suits all training levels because after a short swim, divers reach a mini wall that starts at 40 feet and drops off to 65 feet, and then they can swim further out to the main wall that starts at 65 feet and drops off into the deep blue abyss. When the wind kicked up, Divetech provided a boat to take the group taken to the calm side of the island.

Divetech has long promoted freediving, and hosting the camp with Fazah has created a natural partnership to advance the sport.

“Divetech is awesome,” said Fazah. “Most of their dive instructors are very good freedivers and they are all active. Freedivers are part of a cool community of like-minded people who, regardless of their skill level, get along and help each other out. Everyone has very similar views on ocean conservation.”

Fazah said most attendees were recreational freedivers but there were also a number of dive professionals. All are working on various forms of discipline for the sport, both physical and psychological, as they complete different levels of training from basic certification to instructor trainer. Nutrition lessons were also included, and each day began with an outdoor yoga session.

“Freediving is also a personal journey for people who want to explore what they are personally capable of in the natural underwater world,” Fazah said. “Yoga is about focusing on breathing and position of the body. Yoga is about looking within yourself and free diving is about a connection with the ocean; it’s very cool.”

Mikutowicz universally recommended the sport. “Everyone should try freediving because it is a very safe sport and really pushes your mind to overcome doubts,” she said.

“It’s a great way to explore the ocean in a different way and spend time underwater in a very silent world. People will be amazed at what their bodies are capable of.”

The plan is to make the training camp an annual event.

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Category: Marine Environment

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