This text is about what it feels like to do what I’m doing in the photo.
It’s called a “hang” in freediving terms. You slowly pull yourself down, stay a while on a certain shallow depth, then return to the surface. It’s one of my favourite type of freedives. But this one was special. It was what I like to call “a near life experience”, where I felt so fully alive. Do you know what I mean?
It started on the surface, as many things do. The surface was unusually calm, still like a mirror reflecting the world above. It somehow made the freedivers on the platform more quiet. We were whispering, as if to not disturb the moment.
I was lying face down in the soft water. It felt cool on my warm face. My eyes were closed behind the mask. I was breathing through a black snorkel. I usually control my breathing to make it deeper and slower, more relaxed. But this time I asked my body how it would like to breathe, and it was a bit different, softer than normal. My body was completely relaxed, just floating on the surface without any other movement than the muscles breathing. My neck was so relaxed the head was below the surface, making all other sounds than the breathing muffled.
I waited until the body felt like it was finished breathing.
Then I took my last breath and left the surface behind.
It was surprisingly soft and easy.
I used the freediving line to pull myself deeper, in no hurry whatsoever. The longer the hangs are, the lovelier. So I saved energy and oxygen by pulling myself down in slow motion, one hand over the other, using only a few muscles in the arms. The rest of the body was completely relaxed. Probably more relaxed in the water than ever on land.
After some ten meters I started to fall, without having to pull anymore. I kept one hand on the line, slowly following it deeper. Until it felt like it was time to stop. I would guess it’s was about fifteen meters, but I didin’t care about the meters. I grabbed hold of the line. Stopped the fall.
My legs were heavy and keep falling past me so I end up just hanging head up in one hand. Almost directly I was overwhelmed by the stillness. There was no movement in the water. No movement in my body. No sounds.
Or wait, there was a sound. A thumping repetitive little sound. It took a second before I realised I heard my own heart beating.
Tomorrow the competition starts.
I’m not diving “deep”, but in another sense I am.