freediving story

My Freediving Story: Celebrating 1 Year of Making My Mermaid Dreams Come True!

So it’s been hell of a year! I’m still stoked right now. Well mostly I am very happy about this newest extension and addition in my life. It was in the middle of April 2019 when I first wore a diving fins and poof, it just magically changed everything. Including my perception, the way I see life, it changed the way I take care of my body. Honestly, it gave me more benefits than I have ever imagined. Since I am celebrating my 1 year anniversary in a home quarantine, courtesy of COVID-19, I though about why not share with you my freediving story. After all, it makes my heart giggle to give inspiration.

Why did I started Freediving?

I’m not gonna go beating around the bush, I started freediving at first because I thought it’s cool. It actually interested me more because I’ve been seeing posts of Sarah Lahbati, Richard Gutierrez and Sam Pinto doing it. So I thought “ok it’s cool so let’s do it”. But that was before I even first tried doing it. As soon as I had an overview and actual experience about the sport, I immediately knew that this is not just a hobby. Freediving doesn’t only require physical strength and abilities. It requires passion and love for what you do.

Just like that, my perception was CHANGED. And just like that, I fell in love with freediving. I fell deeply in love that I got stuck in this circle of addiction that I don’t wanna ever stop.

Check out our dive videos on Youtube here.

What is the most exciting part of Freediving?

Learning. The unlimited space for learning is the most exciting part for me. As a student of this world, I fairly believe that no matter how much you excel, you should always have the curiosity to learn more. This attracts motivation to be better and better.

The friends I met throughout this journey has been the most significant expansion. Together, we have helped each other grow and improve. Competing to only ourselves and not to one another. We gained more knowledge as we continued building our dreams together. We traveled and unlocked reefs in the Philippines and it has been one of the craziest and most memorable part of our journey. And as we grow together, we became ocean warriors too. Helping our ocean and our planet while doing what you love the most is truly satisfying and worth it.

Do I consider myself a Professional Freediver?

To set things clear, neither am I a professional freediver nor a certified coach. Probably in the near future! But as of now, I’m a freediver striving hard to become a better version of me each day. I would gladly show and introduce to you the basics but I am not a professional freediver. In case you want to learn more about this sport, you can get tips from professional freedivers like Adam Stern on Youtube. This guy really has lots of informative videos about equalizing, proper duck dive and breath-hold techniques. Check him out!

Benefits of Freediving

Tell you honestly, you’ll be shocked about the benefits this sport can give you! Let me give you some of the most relevant benefits below:

  • Freediving can help you calm your mind, body and soul
  • It will teach you how to care for your body even better than before
  • The challenges will make you believe in your capabilities
  • Freediving builds friendship and comradery
  • It will make your physical strength stronger than before
  • Freediving will change the level of perception that you see in life
  • You will learn that in order to improve, you have to get out of your comfort zone
  • As you fall deeply in love with the sport, you are able to connect your body to your soul
  • Deep realizations starts to appear
  • Love becomes your greatest and most strongest weapon to improve

My Freediving Story

To celebrate my 1 year anniversary of doing what I love, let me share with you my freediving story in a sequential manner. I will also mention the important points during these times.

April 14, 2019: My first ever freediving experience

My freediving story began in Summercruise who connected the bridge from my mermaid dreams to the other side of achieving it. Together with my co-blogger Bobby, we were invited in Summercruise to write a review about the dive camp. They offer freediving and scuba diving lessons so I picked freediving since I’ve been longing to learn this sport. Sir Kai, owner of the dive camp, gave us a few pointers about freediving. I wouldn’t call it as a formal introduction to freediving since it was just a short briefing. After that, I wore fins for the first time and off we go in the middle of the ocean to try it.

I was hesitant at first because there were only the 2 of us in the sea. No coach, no dive master to assist us. And that time, I’m not very confident with my swimming and so is my friend. So what I did is we carried 1 life vest with us just in case one of us drowns, lol. But what do you know, from that moment I knew to myself that I’m already confident with my swimming. So we practiced duck dives and swimming for about an hour until we came back to the dive camp.

It was only 1 hour of trying the sport and it already made me realize that I will surely love and enjoy this sport.

Estimated Breath-hold: 15 seconds max
Estimated Depth: 2-3 meters
Equalizing Maneuver Used: None
Areas of Improvement:
Duck dive, finning, equalizing, breath-hold

April 26, 2019: Freediving in El Nido Palawan

2 weeks later after trying freediving for the first time, Bobby and I had a trip to El Nido where my freediving story eventually continued. Before the trip, I bought my first snorkeling fins from Tusa and named him Stingray. Yes. I gave my fins a name. So during our island tours in El Nido for 4 days, I took advantage of it and practice more duck dives and finning. I really thought I was rocking it that time but if I watch the videos now I really can’t contemplate how bad I was. Lol. Watch my dive video here.

After coming home from the trip, my ears really hurt bad because of the pressure. So now I realized that I needed to do something about that. I did dry practice at home and while in the office to make my ears pop air.

Estimated Breath-hold: 25-30 seconds max
Estimated Depth: 4-5 meters
Equalizing Maneuver Used: *still practicing valsalva*
Areas of Improvement:
Duck dive, breath-hold, equalizing

Freediving Story
Freediving in El Nido with my Tusa Solla full foot fins

May 13, 2019: Meeting Good Friends

Not knowing about any group to join and practice freediving, the big man upstairs did me an incredible favor of doing the job for me. My current friend right now, Milo, became the most important bridge in my freediving story. During the first week of May, he messaged me on Facebook which by the way where we met. So he introduced his self blah blah blah fast forward and he asked me if I wanted to come practice freediving with him and his other friend. And me without knowing anyone in the freediving world to practice this sport, of course I said YES.

For safety precaution and for being a girl (uggh), I only agreed in a day tour fun-dive and wouldn’t have agreed in an overnight trip. Milo, to ensure me my own safety, pretended a gay with his friend. Lol. So Milo, JC and I first met and went to Seasport in Batangas to practive freediving. I even documented our fundive on Youtube. Watch it here. Even if it was our first time meeting, I was happy with the fact that all 3 of us were first timers in this sport but we helped each other grow. Milo taught me a few important things like “never dive alone” and the dive buddy safety procedure.

At the end of the day, we watched the sunset together for the first time. It was then when I realized that these people are for keeps.

Estimated Breath-hold: 35 seconds max
Estimated Depth: 4-5 meters
Equalizing Maneuver Used: Valsalva
Improvements: Finning, better duck dive, breath-hold

July 16, 2019: Buying my first long fins

My freediving story continued as I invested for a long diving fins. I purchased my leaderfins from JRD and it was my first ever long fins. I was really happy and excited to use my new baby. You can see the genuine smile in my face below!

July 19, 2019: First experience of long fins in Batangas

It was a rainy day when we decided to go to Batangas to practice freediving because my friends bought their long fins as well. That’s when I first met Empoy. I got an invitation from the dive resort that we were supposed to go so we were too excited and risked the weather. Sadly, the boat going to the dive resort did not permit us to go since the waves are too huge and it’s impossible to cross the sea.

As an alternative and being the hard-headed jacks we are, we went back to Seasport where we first practiced back in May. Unfortunately, there were huge waves and the water was too murky. We were not able to do proper dives that time. 🙁 To comfort myself, I tried to do 2 duck dives just to experience my new long fins and it was really incredible and fast! Long fins displaced more water for every kick. At least I was able to experience it for once, haha.

We decided to call it a day and proceed to Tagaytay to calm ourselves with Bulalo and a nice scenery. Lol.

July 27, 2019: Fundive in Romblon

As my freediving story continues, I brought my fins with me during the first travel I had in the Philippines. It was in Romblon when I finally had the chance to dive in a clear and calm water. But then again, I was only able to do 3-4 dives since I was the only one who had fins to dive. (Please don’t bash me, I just really want to try my long fins. Haha.

Estimated Breath-hold: 35 seconds max
Estimated Depth: 6-7 meters
Equalizing Maneuver Used: Valsalva
Areas of Improvements: Breath-hold, equalizing

Freediving Story

August 5, 2019: Fundive in Apo Island Dumaguete

The last part of my 10 day backpacking trip ended in Dumaguete. This is where I was able to do proper dives with dive masters. Here I was able to practice my freediving areas of improvement. Watch my video here.

Estimated Breath-hold: 40 seconds max
Estimated Depth: 8-9 meters
Equalizing Maneuver Used: Valsalva
Areas of Improvement: Breath-hold, equalizing

Freediving Story

August 16, 2019: Freediving in Dive7000

My journey continues as me and my newly found family go to Dive7000. This story was supposed to be a freediving trip to Apo Reef in Samblayan Mindoro. However, there was a terrible typhoon that time and eventually we cancelled our trip. The good side is that we landed in Dive7000 resort in Batangas where most of the freedivers say that this place is chill and no huge waves compared to the other parts of Batangas.

Our first visit to this resort became the very reason why we keep coming back to practice. The resort became close to our hearts as we have met Coach Kap and Coach Allan here. They actually gave us a few pointers and it was just at that moment that I first heard about “valsalva” and “frenzel” maneuver. Because to tell you honestly, I don’t have proper intro to freediving, no coach nor dive master taught me how to do stuff. I learned it all from Youtube and from my friends.

After the dive trip, that’s the time I picked up my phone at home and started digging on tutorials about equalizing. I was especially eyeing on Adam Stern’s video about frenzel maneuver because the technique is a bit advance and difficult to explain and apply. So I did lots of dry practice at home and while at the office to learn this maneuver.

Estimated Breath-hold: 1 minute max
Estimated Depth: 8-9 meters
Equalizing Maneuver Used: Valsalva
Areas of Improvement: Duck dive and equalizing

Freediving Story

September 2, 2019: Getting my long fins from Aquamundo

Here comes my first sponsorship from Aquamundo. Ms. Ada, GM and owner of Aquamundo – a Filipino brand, sponsored me my first freediving fins and it was an Aquamundo Lalum fins. Check out my review here!

freediving story

September 28, 2019: First fundive using Aquamundo fins

Going back to Dive7000 with my friends, I first used my Aquamundo fins to test it and write a review about it. Sponsored content or not, Aquamundo is definitely a recommended fins especially to beginners. Most coached recommend this fins too. Also, I was invited by Coach Jay or Vertical Freedivers group to seat-in in his class and train for coaching students. Being the curious girl I was, of course I grabbed this opportunity. Watch the video here!

Estimated Breath-hold: 2 minutes dry practice
Estimated Depth: 10-12 meters
Equalizing Maneuver Used: Frenzel
Areas of Improvement: Duck dive and equalizing

November 9, 2019: I assisted in coaching students with VF

My freediving story continues as I went back in Dive7000 to assist the first batch of students in an open water activity. Honestly, it was tiring but it made my heart happy to teach other people what I love doing. I assisted a mix of swimmers and non-swimmers in an open water. It was crazy but it was really fun!

I also have a self realization that teaching and coaching students is not for me as for the moment. A lot of factors contributed why and some of it are because of my full time job in Manila, editing and creating travel guides, personal travels and blogging career. I realized that I won’t be able to to commit my weekends doing this job. Probably someday if I’m already settled though.

November 22, 2019: Fundive in Dive7000 and Danke Laia

So eventually, my Aquaholics family and I made it to a point to go to other dive resorts other than Dive7000. So during the first day we were in Dive7000 and the next day we explored Danke Laia and we truly enjoyed this place! So far, Danke has the most colorful and healthy coral reef and fishes I’ve seen in Batangas. We explored a lot including Dan’s hole and the wooden chair. Watch the video here!

Freediving Story
In Dive7000, we did the castle dive in a 16 meter depth
Freediving Story
Dan’s hole in Danke Laia

February 2020: Fundive in ZAMBASULTA

It was almost 3 months that I didn’t had any dive trips! Actually it was really frustrating for me. We were supposed to have my birthday dive trip in Planet Dive resort last January. Unfortunately, the Taal volcano erupted to it was cancelled. The next fundive we had was during our ZAMBASULTA trip in Mindanao. It was just a chill dive as we are just visitors in the province and didn’t know the seas.

Freediving Story

March 6, 2020: Fundive in SummerCruise, Binukbok & Monte Carlo

My last dive trip before celebrating my 1 year of freediving was in 3 places in 2 days. Aquaholics family joined TRA (The Real Adventure) for an epic 2 ays trip. The first day we had a fundive in Summercruise and the next day we went to Binukbok and Monte Carlo. Check out the video here!

My Freediving Goals in Life

Celebrating 1 year in this journey is really something. Reminiscing the past 12 months gives me a lot of emotions at the same time! It makes me sad and happy at the same time because I’ve been blessed with so many good people in my life who walks this journey with me. My freediving goals in my life are simple. Taking care of our ocean will be the utmost priority and Aquaholics Freediving PH will be the epitome to achieve this goal.

To grow and improve as a freediver will be something I look forward to achieve with my freediving family. And so my mermaid story continues! Happy freakin’ 1 year anniversary to me! Cheers to more mermaid duties.

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