Monday, April 24, 2006

Free Diver

Exploring the marine world is best done without scuba gear -- just take of deep breath and deep dive into the water. That came from "Free Diver," the best TV program I've seen in a long, long time. It aired on Animal Planet on Sunday.

It's peaceful and easy on the eyes, like Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind. You can sit there and watch it for hours hoping it never ends.

Free diving is the best way to interact with fish, said Tanya Streeter, a freediving champ who presents Free Diver. Scuba gear produces bubbles that distracts fish, making natural interaction difficult.

Free Diver has a lazy, idyllic feel to it; great jazz music plays in the background as Streeter dons flippers and a face-protector and frolics alongside turtles, whales, manatees, and other amazing mammals or birds underwater. She's like the Rambo of free divers, spotting and swimming with any marine life in her path.

The flippers and face protector made her look like another fish that attracted the curiousity of seals and penguins. Seals played catch with her underwater; Streeter instantly became a ring leader of a gang of penguins, who followed her wherever she went.

From Galapagos to the Turks and Caicos, she visits islands where the water is blue and the environment free of people. Life underwater seems so calm. If only we could slow down and be at peace with life like it is underwater...

And yes, free diving is an official sport! Without scuba gear, free divers hold their breath and take a free dip into the water. Whoever holds the longest breath and goes the deepest wins. Look out though, you never know where sharks are lurking, and timing needs to be impeccable. If you can't hold your breath for more than a minute, make sure you get up by then.

Streeter held her breath for 6 minutes and went 100+ meters deep into the water, both world records, according to her. In Free Diver, she'd come up, take a deep breath and go down again.

We're still human. A Galapagos turtle can hold its breath and stay underwater for 8 straight hours; iguanas for only a minute to chow on seaweed, the only thing they eat.

The program packs interesting information, though some questions remain unanswered. The penguin breed went unanswered in the Galapagos section, she just called them "tiny penguins," not a breed. They weren't King Penguins, so which ones were they?

It gets a bit self-indugent during the whale encore, but by that time, my mind is set: I want to free dive, for recreational purposes atleast. I never knew the possibilities that free diving opens up. Scuba diving or snorkelling doesn't even compare.

Which is now obsession: to free dive in the islands, if that's ever possible! It's time to hit my cousin's volleyball pool in Arizona to start training.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out for tons of freediving info. Also, always dive and practice with a safety.

good luck !

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to come with you!

3:04 PM  

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