Playing in the Deep End - Bali Freediving

Posted March 6th, 2017

 

I have aquatic ancestry. It was the reason I would cry every time my dad dragged me from the beach, and surely the same reason my son does now. My life has revolved around water since I can remember, so it only made sense that my lifetime love affair with the ocean expanded into freediving.

All water photography and video provided by Fathom Freedive, incuded in course fees.


Exploring a new world with a single breath. This might be the best way to describe freediving, a diving technique that relies solely on one’s breath holding ability. For thousands of years, cultures around the world have relied on it for survival: Polynesian fisherman, Greek sponge divers, and Japanese pearl divers. Today, freediving is gaining popularity as a sport and recreational activity.

I have done some form of freediving in the past but have been wanting to take a proper course for several years. I researched freediving schools and operators in Bali and several other international locations, but never found the right fit until stumbling upon Fathom Freedive.

After connecting on Instagram, I inquired via direct message about their services. Their staff were personable, able to answer all my questions thoroughly, and happy to work with my schedule. Most importantly, they were focused on what I wanted to learn and achieve. I finally dove into the deep (pun intended) and signed up for their 2-day PADI Freediver course.

 

Fathom Freedive is a newly formed cooperative of freediving experts and instructors offers a range of freediving-related services in Bali:

  • PADI Freediving certification courses
  • Specialty courses in underwater photography, spearfishing, and surf survival training
  • Freediving training and trips to dive sites around Bali and nearby islands
  • Breathwork and yoga training
 

My family and I arrived in Amed midday after the 2.5-hour travel north from the Bukit. Amed is a small sleepy town, though much more developed than when we first visited the area in 2012. We didn’t even recognize the once-empty stretch of coastline as we drove past into town and it took a little while to get our bearings.

We arrived at Tradisi Hotel and checked in with their friendly staff. Since it was low season, we had the entire place to ourselves. This quiet beachfront property boasts nice rooms, pool, beautiful landscaping, and a lovely restaurant. Kristin and Tyler jumped in the pool while I pumped up my inflatable SUP and headed out for an afternoon paddle to explore the coast.

My Fathom Freedive instructor Sam picked me up in the morning. I intentionally scheduled my course for Rainy Season to try to take advantage of the smaller crowds. It paid off, and I was able to schedule a course all to myself. Fathom Freedive’s school is set back from the main road on a quiet backstreet, surrounded by trees and enjoying a beautiful view of the mountains. The perfect setting for the classroom portions of the course, where we covered a range of topics including technique, equipment, and safety.

The diving portion of the course was held in the nearby Jemeluk Bay. This idyllic location not only offers great snorkeling just meters off the shore, but perfect dive training conditions a short swim further. Tropical fish swam amongst beautiful gorgonian fan corals and patches of artificial reefs on the inside of the bay before the ocean floor drops off steeply to depths over 40 meters.

 

This course was much more than I had expected. Learning the basic physiological and mental aspects of freediving was very enlightening and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I gained a lot more confidence about what I can do in the water, which will certainly come in handy when diving but also translate perfectly to surfing. I would highly recommend taking a course with Fathom Freedive to anyone interested in freediving, and I can’t wait to return for the Level II course!

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