Freediving in Amed
Agata Bogusz discovered she could freedive “by accident” in 2009 after joining a friend training in Egypt. Months later, the urban planner had broken four polish records and spends her days now travelling the globe in search of deep waters. The warm bays of Amed, three hours north of Denpasar in Bali, are the perfect base for freedive training, with a 40-meter drop off ten meters from the shore.
Students learn the basics by first mastering holding their breath in the pool, or in freedive speak, "static apnea". Initially, I come up gasping for air, feeling slightly exasperated. The urge to breathe is overwhelming. I wonder how I am going to make the two-minute-45 mark, which is a requirement of my course. "What happened?", Agata asks kindly. "I just wanted to breathe" I reply, feeling somewhat guilty. It’s fighting this instinct that is essential to freediving success. Panic and it’s all over. A few days later, we are high fiving each other in the pool. I can’t believe I made it.
In the next part of our course, we head to the calm waters of Jemeluk Bay, to practice pulling down a rope, learning the technique of ‘free immersion’ (using a rope to descend). It’s quite a lot to think about, but, it’s possible to master. Most of the students completing a beginner’s course will reach 20 meters, and we are no exception.
On the last day, we are taken for a ‘fun’ freedive session to Tulamben, home to the USAT Liberty shipwreck. The Liberty appears out of the blue like a ghost, covered in corals and fish. The US cargo ship was torpedoed to the beach in 1942 then moved back into the water 20 years later by a volcanic eruption. The spectacular site attracts divers, snorkelers and freedivers from across the globe.
Where is Agata gone?” I ask my diving buddy. “Down there, looking at a turtle”, he replies, pointing under the water to Agata, some 15 meters under. “I might go and join her”, I say with a grin.
I take a deep breath, equalise and dive. No longer floating on the surface, I can finally go deep, with just one breath.
Words Ashleigh Mills
Photos James Mills