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Come On and Take a Freedive

We’ve been working on our freediving — going deep and long without any oxygen other than what we can hold in our lungs — prior to returning to Bimini at Thanksgiving for more swimming with dolphins and spearfishing (not the dolphins, of course). The French have had a fascination with freediving at least since Luc Besson’s film Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) (1988), and various municipal governments have weighed in with training facilities. The one that we go to in the Paris suburb of Villeneuve-La-Garenne has three wells: 5m, 10m and 20m deep — that’s about 65 feet down (the furthest one in the picture):

Apnée Villeneuve.jpg

After training with chest-cavity-expanding yoga exercises, and using breathing and relaxation techniques, we can easily drop down to the 65-foot level and hang out there. In a fresh water pool, a person is positively buoyant only in the first ten or fifteen feet; after that the compression transitions you to negative buoyancy. By the time you hit a depth of thirty feet or so, you are dropping like a stone.

The other day I floated face down on the surface of the pool without breathing for three minutes. The euphoria of sensing that you need no air is quite memorable — and perhaps recalls a distant time when we never needed atmospheric air at all.

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