The UK is host to a wealth of freediving opportunities, ranging from inland quarries to open ocean diving, dedicated freediving clubs in
cities to hardcore buddy groups of cold water warriors in coastal towns. This makes the UK freediving scene, despite its apparent disadvantages to warm water destinations a real player in the world scene. As a result of this many of the worlds best freedivers are coming from British freediving clubs and schools.
What makes a UK freediver different from the rest?
Learning to freedive whilst dealing with awkward weather and big tides, winter storms and cold water all condition UK freedivers to be at the very least, dedicated and hardy freedivers. Thankfully we do have good enough conditions and enough quality instruction throughout the UK to ensure that everyone gets a chance to do their best in our waters.
When you take a UK freediver out of this chilly baptism of ice, you get a freediver that can not only perform well in warm water but thoroughly revels in it. No matter how much I prepare divers for the difference, they are always shocked as to how much more they can achieve, with apparently no more effort when they step foot in 29c water. I see it all the time when on our freediving trips to Egypt or Gozo.
There is also something very specific I think about the UK freedivers mental resolve. Whether this is born out of cultural conditioning or not i don’t know, but the old ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude that we are so famous/infamous for may have something to do with the British freediver doing well when taken out of their island home.
Im not saying that we are better than the rest…. because we are not. We do however seem to have a very different attitude to the sport than other countries. Its an attitude that does stand us in good stead when we freedive with freedivers from countries that have either better conditions or at the least a longer history of breath-hold diving. This was made clear when we went to freedive with the Moken in Thailand, a tribe of freedivers that are genetically pre-disposed to the sport. They were shocked as to how long we spent in the water, how deep we could go and how long we could stay there for. I suppose that when we are given world class conditions, we dont let go lightly.
So, whether or not you are new to the sport of freediving or spearfishing, expect your journey to be filled with a wonderful array or experiences that will mark you out as a UK free diver….
Chilly morning dives, that shock of cold water trickling in to your suit, the tingle of cool on your face as it hits the water, calling off dives because of the wind, the joy of seeing the visibility recover after the winter, the excitement of your first warm water dive, reveling in the late summer water temp, chatting about your dives with you mates in the pub, diving in a quarry, trying to convince the lifeguard that is ok for you to freedive in your local pool, scouting for buddies on freediving forums.
It all adds up to make a very unique type of freediver.