I recently returned from a two week trip to the Dubrovnik Riviera in Croatia with my husband. We attended the wedding of two very dear friends and spent two weeks enjoying the beautiful rocky beaches of the Dalmatian coast and the city of Dubrovnik.
I also got the opportunity to spend a morning freediving with Freedive Dubrovnik. Freediving is diving without an oxygen tank. Instead you hold your breath for an extended period of time and equalise your ears to prevent pressure building up inside of them as you go deeper. Being able to swim underwater for extended periods of time and comfortably acheive depth are essential skills for mermaiding. I’ve also grown to love the sport in its own right and am keen to see how far I can push myself.
I already had some freediving experience, as I have an AIDA 1* certification, and I often train with the London Freediving Club in a pool and have done a 10m depth open water dive in off the coast of Cornwall. Croatia has some of the cleanest and clearest waters in Europe, so I was keen to take advantage of the location and test out my freediving skills. I wanted to acheieve a 16m depth dive, because that is the requirement to pass the AIDA 2* Open Water qualification. I’m hoping to take this certification this autumn, so I was keen to get some practise in.
All in all I had an amazing experience. Ghautier my instructor was excellent. He was very attentive and spent a long time getting me to practise 5 metre dives and correcting my technique. This helped me when I started doing deeper dives. He also lengthened the weighted rope gradually, so each dive built a few metres on the last making it easier to acheive. I loved going deeper under the water, feeling the cold through my wetsuit, and being able to stop and look around under the sea. When I completed the 16m depth dive, I managed to brush the sea grass growing on the ocean floor with my hands and take a look out to sea before I floated up, feeling absolutely elated.
All in all, it was a physically challenging experience but very rewarding. Given the quality of instruction I had, as well as being more experienced, my overall performance was far better than my first openwater dive. However I do have one word of warning for anyone who is thinking of doing freediving training or a certification. I didn’t bring a bottle of water with me. I naievely thought I’d be going on a boat to the spot where we would be diving. Instead, we swam out with a buoy and I left my water on a rock, with my flipflops and sunglasses. It was a very hot day, 33 degrees centigrade and the sun was very strong. I usually don’t cope well with the sun beating down on my head at the best of times and tend to wear a sunhat or stay in the shade. After about an hour I started to feel sick and dehydrated and had to swim back to the rock to have a drink and a break. This wasted a lot of my training time, so next time I’d definitely check where the freediving will be taking place and make sure there’s space for some drinking water.
All in all it was a wonderful experience, which helped me improve my confidence and experience the underwater beauty of Croatia in a unique way.
WARNING: Never freedive alone. Do not attempt to freedive if you are not a trained and certified freediver.
Featured Image courtesy of Russell Bowes. Images features Cavtat near Dubrovnik, not the location I freedived.
Underwater photos courtesy of Ghautier Ghilain, Freedive Dubrovnik.