Audrey of BlueAddiction, always graceful in apnea. (Red Sea, Egypt, October 2016)
Audrey of BlueAddiction, always graceful in apnea. (Red Sea, Egypt, October 2016)

Free diving, free diving

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the strange sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here PetitesBullesdAilleurs.fr

  France: French Riviera - July 2014

This year, I discovered apnea. In Indonesia, then in the Mediterranean. In English, we say Free diving, free diving ... I love it!

Hold one's breath

Life is full of surprises. I, the bottle diver who loves to make bubbles, I learned to do something new, incredible: to pass me of regulator and not to breathe under water! Yes, this year, I started to apnea!

In English, we call it free diving: free diving. I like the expression, it is the freedom (and not the lack of air) that is put forward. No need for a bottle of air on the back. The principle is to do like marine mammals. The only reserve of air we ship is the one stored in his lungs ... 😀

Bubbles game in a Polynesian lagoon, in 2012 ... Not easy to play the sirens, even at 10 cm deep!
Bubbles game in a Polynesian lagoon, in 2012 ... Not easy to play the sirens, even at 10 cm deep!
Much more classy: Rémy Dubern en route to 91m at the 2013 World Championships in Kalamata, Greece. Photo: © Daan Verhoeven.
Much more classy: Rémy Dubern en route to 91m at the 2013 World Championships in Kalamata, Greece. (Photo: © Daan Verhoeven)

Initially, to do apnea, I did not think I was too capable, with my past as a smoker. I also doubted to have the necessary physical resistance, given my lack of regular sport activity. And then, I love water, I'm not good at swimming - pool lengths, it's never been my thing. Short. I was convinced that snorkeling was not for me.

However, today I can go down to a depth of ten meters, on a single inspiration ... There are few things that I accomplished this year which I am so proud. I still can not believe it.

Indonesia, May 2014

Gapang Beach, Pulau Weh. Banda Aceh, Indonesia, May 2014.
Gapang beach in Pulau Weh, so peaceful. Indonesia, May 2014.

It all started in Indonesia in May 2014. I returned to Pulau Weh, a small island in Banda Aceh province, on the western tip of Sumatra. I found a friend, Rémy Dubern, whom I had met during a previous trip to Pulau Weh, four years earlier, in 2010. He was a scuba diving instructor at the time.

At Nice Abyss Contest 2014, Rémy Dubern in freefall, en route to 64 m. (Photo: © Bill Rhamey)
At Nice Abyss Contest 2014, Rémy Dubern in freefall, en route to 64 m. (Photo: © Bill Rhamey)

We kept the contact on Facebook. In the meantime, he went into apnea. And since he's the kind of guy who does not do things halfway when he's passionate about something, he pushed the experience very far ... Until the competition, to win the gold, at the championship de France FFESSM 2013, with a descent in flippers at -80 meters!

Apnea is now his life. In addition to the competition, he has become a trainer and now teaches free diving, for beginners and more experienced divers (see his website Blue Addiction). With his partner Audrey, he regularly organizes internships in France and abroad.

So I took advantage of Remy's presence in Pulau Weh, to initiate myself to apnea with him, at center Lumba Lumba on the beach of Gapang, between two days of dives with bubbles ...

He is a great teacher, benevolent and very pedagogue, who really puts in trust and knows how to communicate his passion. I might not have dared to try apnea if he had not known how to talk to me like he did ... A real smuggler of envy!

For practical exercises, the first step is dry. After a few simple postures of yoga to relax the body and breathing exercises to learn how to fill his ribcage well, we lie on deckchairs, we relax to the maximum and we all try to hold his breath as long as possible ... It seemed unimaginable, but after a few tries, I managed to hold 2 minutes 30!

Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Freediving lesson with Rémy Dubern. May 2014.
Rémy explains the basic principles for apnea, during training "dry".
Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Freediving lesson with Rémy Dubern. May 2014.
Let's go ! Everyone holds their breath, trying to relax to the maximum!

Well, in the water, it's another pair of sleeves. There are other things to master: the ears to balance, the optimization of the kicking, the stress to manage ... We are several apprentices freedivers to follow the course and we all manage, during the day, to overcome our blockages, to make impressive progress, each at his level.

Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Freediving lesson with Rémy Dubern. May 2014.
Remy is getting ready to go in the water with the buoy for the freediving classes.
Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Freediving lesson with Rémy Dubern. May 2014.
Hello, apneist apprentices!

Having not taken my camera under water for sea sessions, I put below some screenshots videos made to the GoPro by Rémy with Rimen and Mathieu, a couple of travelers become friends and who like me discovered free diving during their stay in Pulau Weh.

Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Freediving lesson with Rémy Dubern. May 2014.

This initiation in Indonesia I liked so much that I decided to put it again: even before the end of my stay in Pulau Weh, I signed up for one of the three days courses of Blue Addiction that Rémy had planned. organize in Hyères, in the south of France, this summer.

Hyères, July 2014

Returning from my trip to MexicoAt the end of July, I took the road for a final week of vacation on the Côte d'Azur, in Hyères, to participate in the apnea training of Blue Addiction. This trip to the Var coast was for me a first: I did not know at all the corner, which is however a little cradle of diving in France ...

I discovered the islands of Port-Cros and Porquerolles during our sea trips, under a radiant sun! Magnificent ! Admittedly, it is not Indonesia, and the water is definitely cooler, but the Mediterranean, it remains "exotic" for the Breton woman that I am ...

From Pualu Weh to Hyères, I discovered another way to dive. And especially discovered that I was perfectly able. At my level (modest) of course ...

I like the parallel with running that Rémy does during his training: everyone is able to run, run for fun, at his own pace, no need to be a marathoner. For apnea, it's the same: no need to be an athlete as in the Big Blue, it can be practiced as a hobby, safely, it is an activity accessible to any person normally constituted.

Stage of apnea Blue Addiction with Rémy Dubern, in Hyères. July 2014.

Between my initiation to apnea in Indonesia and this internship in the Mediterranean, I gained confidence. I learned little things not very complicated, that can hold his breath longer.

What is truly amazing is the spectacular progress everyone makes, between the very first immersion and the following apneas ... I also learned the importance of physical relaxation and mental "letting go" (which are not only useful in apnea, but also in everyday life).

The base of Blue Addiction during summer internships. (Photo: © Blue Addiction)
The base of Blue Addiction during summer internships. (Photo: © Blue Addiction)

Apnea training in Hyères (Var) with Blue Addiction. July 2014.

A trainee refines his technique under the benevolent eye of a safety apneist. (Photo: © Blue Addiction)
A trainee refines his technique under the benevolent eye of a safety apneist. (Photo: © Blue Addiction)

From snorkeling to free diving

Well, I am for the moment only a great beginner and I still have a good margin of progress! Unlike others, I'm not particularly in search of depth or performance, but rather of pleasure and ease ...

The idea is to already have a closer look at fish and corals, when I snorkel (palms-mask-snorkel). And then, perhaps, one day, to be able to approach (and photograph, and film) dolphins, sharks, manta rays and other friendly creatures, without frightening them by a plume of noisy bubbles!

I remember in particular my snorkeling session with the dolphins of Sataya, Egypt, and the whale shark trip to Mexico: if I had followed some apnea before, I would have been much more comfortable to realize my images ...

Dolphins. Sataya, Egypt. December 2011.

During my trip to the Maldives in February 2014I did not know much about apnea either. But some of my fellow dive on the fabulous boat Ocean Divine were also excellent apneists (I am late in my publications, I have not yet told this part of the stay).

During our snorkeling breaks, I was a little envious to see them immerse themselves and descend below the surface, without apparent effort ...

Me, not very talented to hold without breathing under water, I was content to dabble on the surface with my camera. Admire the graceful position ... (Thanks to Jeff for the photos!)

The beauty of free diving

I am not a little proud of having obtained, after my initiation in Indonesia, my first star Aida (International Association for the Development of Diving).

Not very proud to have obtained my first star Aida (International Association for the Development of Apnea)!

What is fascinating about apnea is that it mobilizes primitive physiological resources, which we all have in us, without really being aware of them. Our body is today adapted to the terrestrial life, but it kept buried, in the course of the evolution, somewhere in the bottom of its cells, the memory of its aquatic life of old ... The subject fascinates doctors and biologists. I refer you to this page of Rémy's Blue Addiction website, which explains this very well:

→ We can all go snorkeling

I will continue to scuba dive with a bottle, of course. But I also want to progress in free diving ... We get rid of the equipment, we listen more to his body. And above all, it's so much more beautiful!

It's also very fun to meet scuba divers, underwater ... They can not believe to see the freedivers put under their noses, without any other gear than the equipment fins-mask-snorkel!

On the left, a 17-year-old trainee freediver is taking advantage of her recent progress to tease the bottle divers ... (Photo: © Blue Addiction)
On the left, a 17-year-old trainee freediver is taking advantage of her recent progress to tease the bottle divers ... (Photo: © Blue Addiction)

New experiences with freedivers

I had the opportunity to try again the apnea or to mix with other freedivers, during new journeys:

→ In Red Sea (Egypt) in October 2016

→ In Indonesia in Komodo, in July 2016

An apneist surrounded by anthias swarms over Batu Bolong reef in Komodo. (Indonesia, July 2017)
An apneist surrounded by anthias swarms over Batu Bolong reef in Komodo. (Indonesia, July 2017)
Audrey of BlueAddiction, always graceful in apnea. (Red Sea, Egypt, October 2016)
Audrey of BlueAddiction, always graceful in apnea. (Red Sea, Egypt, October 2016)
Sirens exist, the proof ... (Red Sea, Safaga, Egypt, October 2016)
Sirens exist, the proof ... (Red Sea, Safaga, Egypt, October 2016)

Inspiring videos

Finally, to close this chapter on my discovery of apnea, I really like the inspiration shown by today's apneists to share their passion, thanks to videos posted on the internet. They are more and more numerous to highlight the aesthetic dimension of free diving, to offer another approach to the underwater world or sensations in diving, which is neither documentary nor reporting nor competition ...

The best known is the freediver Guillaume Néry, world champion in 2011 and French record holder at -125 meters. He's the one we see in the movie Free Fall, directed by his partner Julie Gautier, who has been a hit on the internet since 2010.

In April 2014, at the time of the release of his book Depths, I had the pleasure of interviewing him for the evening edition digitalOuest-France. To read at the end of the link below:

Guillaume Néry, a life in apnea

© Guillaume Néry / Julie Gautier
© Guillaume Néry / Julie Gautier

Guillaume Néry and Julie Gautier have made a new short film (in which Rémy Dubern participated), which I invite you to discover below. The theme of this film is the hallucinations caused by narcosis, the intoxication of the depths that divers can go underwater ... The bias is still very aesthetic, but in a more psychedelic vein and a little scary ...

Guillaume Néry also participated in a film in the mexican cenotes. I find the atmosphere and the games of light that fascinated me so much for my own images. Obviously, snorkeling in this kind of place is reserved for pros ... I'll give you an excerpt below. It's superb, but again, rather disturbing.

For the fans of this kind of movies shifted on apnea, I put below the links to two other articles that I published recently, with little more playful films:

The man running on the surface of the sea (a video made by Spaniards, where an apneist, filmed upside down and feet flush with the surface, gives the illusion of running on the water)

© The Ocean Brothers
© The Ocean Brothers

At -40 m in the deepest pool in the world (I slipped a video of the mermaid costume diver who offered a nice underwater show for the inauguration of the Y-40 dive pit in Italy)

© Y-40 The Deep Joy
© Y-40 The Deep Joy

  France: French Riviera - July 2014

  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - May 2014

  1. Ah, glad to see that you too took the virus! It must be said that we quickly become addicted to apnea and as you say the progression curve is so fast (in the beginning) that we have only one desire: to continue and to excel, again and again.

    I did the sessions this summer while I was training for my level instructor and now, when I think of it, since Paris, I have only one desire: to return! Can not wait for the spring.

    1. @Gaspard: Yes, the early progress is extremely motivating. I am thinking now of investing in real freediving gear, long fins and truly isothermal combi ... I suffered from the cold in the Mediterranean. Long live the warm seas 😉

    2. Beware of Apnea fins when you start ... it's not always useful to start. You really have to go on a very flexible model to not slow down your progress (but, if necessary, Remy will advise you much better than me).

      Well, who knows, we may end up crossing underwater, with or without a bottle.

    3. @Gaspard: I'm a great beginner, for now ... I'm waiting for an upcoming internship opportunity to take a closer look at the gear that goes well. In the meantime, I'm already going to learn to palmer properly with ordinary flippers! And who knows, yes, maybe we will end up crossing underwater next day! 😉

  2. Thank you Corinne for this article that is timely, I just enrolled this year in apnea courses 🙂 ... in the pool at the moment, allowing to train before sea trips. As you say, without looking for performance, it's nice to feel the progress in minutes, thanks to good advice. Rémy Dubern's courses look great!

    1. Oh dear!!! Me who already lacks air in an elevator or in a sanitized room whose windows can not be opened !!!! 😉 😉

  3. Me who enjoys snorkeling but had found a tedious all this diving equipment, I'm interested. Indeed, I enjoy snorkeling for freedom and simplicity.
    Just a curious question to the future expert! I remember when I was a kid and I had fun doing laps underwater, it worked a lot better if I was hyperventilating before. Is it a "classic" method or is it a potentially dangerous bad idea?

  4. @Corinne: The hyperbaric doctor I met after my diving accident told me that apnea could be a solution for me, since there is no formation of nitrogen bubbles.
    Your internship and the way you describe it, commit me to push my thinking a little further! Indeed, like many beginners, I do not control practically anything under water in apnea! And that's how snorkeling and apnea could become for me a serious alternative to scuba diving! To be continued ! 🙄

    1. @Didier: I thought of you, during my training apnea ... If the doctor agrees, I highly recommend the experience! Yes, you should try, to see ... you'll be surprised at your own abilities, I think. To follow, so ...
      🙄

  5. I admit that you give envy with this feedback. I do not know if I would be able, already that I have never done diving before, even if it attracts me strongly. I had snorkeled on the Okinawa Islands in Japan and I already liked being able to approach sea turtles. I wish I could swim freely like this and try the experience in Ogasawara (Japan) with the dolphins ^ _ ^

  6. A beautiful article that really makes you want to take snorkeling courses! Thank you and good luck Corinne 😉

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