“Holding your breath is addictive,” says Fernan Clavo, devotee of apnoea diving, an extreme sport in which divers propel themselves underwater without a snorkel or any other breathing apparatus.
In Euskadi this sport has great merit since the temperatures of the Cantabrian Sea are very cold and the water is not often crystal clear, with an average visibility of about 20 meters on the best days. For purposes of comparison, visibility in the waters of the Mediterranean around Ibiza usually reaches 40 metres.
There are three types of saltwater freediving: In constant weight freediving, the diver wears a weight belt to counter the buoyancy of his or her wetsuit. In free immersion, the diver uses a vertical guiderope to pull him or herself down to depth and back to the surface. The use of ballast is optional. In No Limits freediving, a weighted sled (around 50 kilogrammes) is used to descend as quickly as possible.
“What I like most about freediving is the feeling of underwater freedom, exploring a cave, looking for fish… More than disconnecting, freediving offers a sense of relaxation,” says an enthusiastic Fernan, who combines this practice with underwater fishing, another of his great passions.
Unlike many other sports, freediving is very popular among women, in terms of both numbers and performance. One of our most outstanding freedivers is Tenerife-born Dunia Quintero, Spanish Static Apnea champion.
Like any other extreme sport, freediving requires concentration but also a few basic skills. Relaxation and breathing are fundamental (much like yoga), as is a good compensation technique to compensate for the parts of the body that contain air (such as the ears, sinus and lungs) and for the internal space of the mask.
Le Grand Bleu
The legendary 1988 French film Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue ) is a freediving cult-classic with stunningly beautiful and serene underwater photography. Starring Jean-Marc Barr, Rosanna Arquette and Jean Reno, The Big Blue is a fictionalized story of a sporting rivalry between two freediving champions.