We lay face down in the water, relaxed, peering through the depths of the ocean, heart slowing, perched on the boundary between two worlds. We inhale one final breath, slipping into the liquid world, fighting the upward pull of the world filled with our cares. We ease into a gentle glide with the ocean’s embrace, enveloping us and pulling us deeper – deeper into ourselves. We are one with the blue. We are freedivers.L3

We may dive for many reasons such as competition, hunting, photography, and almost always pleasure. In my search for knowledge (outside of formal classes, which I highly recommend), I’ve found that most freedivers on the web are spearfishers, or at least a hybrid of some sort. I struggled with this discovery at first not only because I’ve never had a palate for fish but also because I am vegetarian. I realized that in order to gain some knowledge, I may have to learn from people who do something that I found heartbreaking. I don’t place judgment on people who hunt responsibly for their food, but I found myself reading or seeing things that were sometimes unsettling to me. Couple that with a hefty dose of testosterone and I was definitely in a place I was unaccustomed to.

I realized something quite immediately however, which put me at ease, opened my mind and taught me a few things. It’s quite simple. Spearfishers are freedivers. Extraordinary! I sat in front of my monitor watching videos of spearfishers gliding through the water column, diving for pleasure, beautiful forms lit from behind while schools of fish or dolphins soared past them. I read forums or books where spearfishers describe the feeling of being immersed in water on one breath and the peace and stillness that comes with it. I spoke to spearfishers whose eyes lit up not with the talk of the kill but in the talk of the dive and the purity of freediving. I read the struggles that spearfishers faced with static apnea, equalization and general training. I celebrated with spearfishers who reached new personal records and overcame diving challenges. Finally, through the encouragement of a spearfisher friend, I joined a local freediving group that I was familiar with but reluctant to join.  They are almost exclusively spearfishers and I’m most certainly not. I’m okay with that.  What is important is that we share something in common.

What I’ve found of value is that I’ve come to realize that had I not opened myself up to something that I was uncomfortable with, I would be cutting myself off from a great source of freediving experience and knowledge. I would also continue to live in ignorance about what responsible spearfishers do and the issues they face as hunters in a world that misunderstands them. I know too well what it is to be misunderstood due to ignorance (and the effects of the occasional rotten apples who feed societal ignorance) and am glad to have the opportunity to eradicate misconceptions I had of a culture of people. Finding the common ground was key and a lesson I hope to carry with me going forward.

Our time runs out and we must return to the surface. Fighting the force that beckons our bodies deeper we kick toward the light. With each kick, we surrender to the knowing that we must temporarily abandon the ocean’s embrace. Enduring pain as we ascend the water column, anxious for our first breath, we break through the boundary between two worlds and inhale deeply. We are reborn. We are freedivers.