I put things on hold over in Miami for a bit so I could go over to Long Island, Bahamas, for the vertical blue free dive course. Had an amazing week training and learning from some of the top athletes in the field and diving in the most amazing set up for free diving I have ever seen.
Flew in a couple days early to get settled in and met up with some of the others from the course on the flight over, people from all parts of the globe, Spain, Canada, France, Japan and the US. A pretty solid testament to the level of training of the course and also to the beauty of the blue hole.
Was pretty tired after the flight over but after stashing my gear in my room headed down to check out the blue hole, couldn’t wait. Drove up on the beach and stepped out and suddenly there it was, a vertical hole that after a few small steps off the beach falls away to 200 metres. It was more amazing than I could possibly have imagined, and I had it all to myself. Stepping into the water and taking a few strokes away from the shore the bottom fell away sharply before simply disappearing. It’s a surreal feeling, like stepping out into space. I swam out to the platform that’s anchored in the middle and simply soaked up the amazing scene around me.
Met up with the rest of the crew for the course the next day and started training officially the day after that. The course is run by William and Brittany Trubridge, Brian Pucella and Daan Verhoeven, all amazing divers and great crew. William currently holds the current record for diving with no fins to depth of 102 metres, and is one of the top athletes in the sport. Also training at the hole during the week was Ashley chapman, George Miller and Rob King, all current record holders in their respective disciplines. To be surrounded by people who are the best in the world was a great experience and every one of them took the time to talk, hang out share a few stories with us.
The course ran over a week and the days were spent with dive work in the morning, working on techniques for improving our form in the water, breathing,equalization, as well as being videoed to analyze ways to improve. Theory followed after lunch, working to understand the physiology and what happens to out bodies when we dive and how we can use this to our advantage and yoga in the afternoon. Its been a while since i had practiced and yoga and felt great to get back into it, incorporating the breathing techniques, flexibility and the mental concentration that yoga brings is a great advantage to diving, and life in general.
All the instructors gave so much time to us and I learnt so much from each of them. I had planned on doing some training before the course, but with all the traveling involved in finding the yacht I had only managed one dive in the last few months. However with the training and improvement on technique and mental state in the water I was able to break my own personal best record, first diving to 30M and then later 35M, besting my previous record by 10M. A huge improvement, I had come here wanting to at least do 30 and to accomplish that, and more, was such a great feeling. On the day of the dive my right ear was giving me a bit of trouble and i was unsure whether i would be able to equalize on the way down. I sat on the platform resting and calming myself and had a sudden realisation that brought a smile to my face. What did it matter. I was going to do it, if not today then sometime soon. It took all the pressure off and i felt really positive and light after that. On the dive my ears cleared without any real problems and i relaxed and just enjoyed the feeling of falling into the blue as i overcame positive buoyancy and sank to the target plate set at my desired depth. The whole dive felt really good and was a great feeling to get past the bit of a mental block i had at around 20M. So stoked.
There were some amazing dives done within the course by the others as well, Violetta hitting the 40M mark, Marco achieving 35M, Tanya 20M and Mitsuhero 38M. Also got to witness Rob King busting out an 85M dive of three minutes and Brian Pucella doing a 50M dive and making it look easy. Everyone had a great time and took a lot away from the course. So toked I made the effort to come out, it has changed the way I dive and helped towards my goals and target depths massively.
We were blessed with some great weather on the last few days and got a bit of a photo shoot in with Dan where we got to play around and get some awesome photos of ourselves under water. Was great to be able to chat to him about photography and see some one who loves what he does and comes up with such great images. The last night found us all down the beach again for a bonfire under a sky speckled with a thousand stars and phosphorescence twinkling along the shoreline. After an amazing meal of fresh fish and taking time to take in just exactly how much amazing beauty was all around us, we all jumped in for a night swim with nothing but the dark water between us and the bottom 200M below. What and incredible way to finish off a great week.
Had a relaxing day of recovery on the last day and explored some of the caves on the island before heading to the airport for my flight back to Miami. This course has been one of the best things I have done, made some great friends, achieved some personal goals that I am proud of and experienced a part of the world that is truly magnificent.
Huge thank to Will, Britney, Brian and Daan for their time and for all the rest of the crew on the course. Hopefully I have been able to portray a bit of how stoked I am to those sharing this experience through this post. Life is Good.
P.S. will post some of the pics taken by Daan as soon as I get them. Really looking forward to seeing them myself.
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