- interview with FreeDive Ibiza -
We sat down and had a chat with Louisa Collyns from FreeDive Ibiza..
When and why was Free-Dive-Ibiza founded?
Louisa: I came to live in Ibiza in June 2014 and started teaching a few free-diving courses, and it’s grown from there. I had spent a week in Ibiza the previous summer, and that was my only experience of the island. I’d been working as a Pilates teacher in London for nearly a decade, but I desperately I needed the sea (back) in my life. Part of me was missing in London. I had zero idea about Ibiza, but one day I just decided I was going to move here and teach free-diving…
When was your first contact with the ocean and what kind of memories does this bring out in you?
Louisa: You know, I can’t really remember when I was first in the ocean, but I think the fact that I can’t remember means it was early on in my life. My dad’s side of the family were always near, in or on the water, and my brother and I were total water-babies. Even though the sea in the UK is pretty ‘fresh’ - and I really struggled with that as a kid - I would always eventually overcome the cold because the desire to be in the water was stronger. I’ve never really been a fan of surface-swimming, I always preferred to be underneath. I remember sitting at the bottom of pools with my brother for as long as we could… in our summer holidays we could literally spend all day in the water. We had to be forced out to eat lunch and re-hydrate!
Are you part human part fish? What kind of fish do you identify with the most?
Louisa: I actually don’t identify so much with the whole half-fish-half-girl mermaid thing! … I would have to say that I identify more with whales. They have always been my favorite animal, since I was a child, especially the Blue Whale. And I also used to think I was a seal in a previous life… We are mammals, and when we learn to free-dive we learn the theory of the mammalian dive reflex (MDR), which is what enables us to hold our breath for longer than we expect, and allows our bodies to manage the pressure of the water. Aspects of the MDR include the slowing of our heart rate, our bodies consume oxygen differently, and other physiological changes take place to allow us to spend longer underwater. It is almost exactly the same physiological system that is found in whales, dolphins, seals and all other sea-mammals. Obviously not to the same degree, because we are land-based, but free-divers train to be able increase the effects of this reflex.
What is required physically and mentally to be a successful free diver?
Louisa: Some people say that free-diving is 70% mental and only 30% physical. I’m not sure where such precise numbers come from, but it is absolutely true that free-diving is an activity for the mind. Physically, pretty much anyone can free-dive. The connection between the mind and the body is more important in free-diving than in any other activity I have ever come across. It’s like a mirror to what is going on with you, physically, emotionally, even spiritually. Free-diving shows you who you are. It’s as simple as that. It gives you immediate feedback. My instagram for my underwater dance is called @Deep.Reflections, because freediving becomes a meditation for many of us; it requires inner peace, and it gives you inner peace.
What is the goal/purpose of free diving as sport for amateurs?
Louisa: So, first of all, see my answer above! But apart from that as an amateur freediver you not only can enjoy the beautiful three-dimensional freedom of movement, and fluid sensations in the water, but you also have access to another world. The stunning underwater locations we go to in Ibiza are not seen by the majority of visitors to the island; even by many of the locals. Underwater photography is a lot of fun, and some free-divers like to go spearfishing.Most amateur free-divers train on a line too, i.e. we swim down (and up) a rope that is attached to a buoy on the surface. This kind of training allows us to explore ourselves a little more. We are essentially seeing how deep we can go, but it is much more than that, because many factors are involved, such as technique, body positioning, the mind-body connection I spoke of above, our ability to equalize our ears due to the water pressure, etc etc. So, for me, the purpose of this kind of training is ‘challenge’, be that mental or physical. When I was a scuba diving instructor, I basically knew what I was doing and there was little more to learn. As a free-diver, the learning and challenges are limitless, and that is very exciting!
What are you favorite out of water activities?
Which is you favorite free diving shore/cove in Ibiza ? Louisa: Oh, that’s a tough question…. From shore, I love the Blue Holes near Cala Xarraca, but also Cala d’en Serra is very pretty for snorkeling, and Punta Galera is always cool.
What do you say to someone that has never tried Free Diving but would like to part take? Louisa: You are about to try something that could change your life!