Of all the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have here, free-diving has definitely been one of the most satisfactory so far. It has been an area where I have achieved vast improvement since my start, as well as let me see so much more of the Bahamian waters and marine wildlife.
Every Wednesday and Sunday morning, if possible, I get up early to go free-diving instead of sleeping. On Wednesday that means waking up at six twenty rather than seven fifty. If it was not worth it, I would never forsake that much sleep, but it is. One of the benefits of free-diving is that many animals, such as sharks, do not like the noise that SCUBA equipment makes underwater. But in free-diving, you have no equipment, so some animals might not be as repelled as they would have if you were SCUBA diving. Whether because of this, or just out of sheer luck, I have been able to see as well swim with many amazing underwater creatures. Some of the more extraordinary examples include: a ten-foot Hammerhead Shark, an eight-foot wide Spotted Eagle Ray, a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a Reef Shark, and much more. These amazing creatures have sparked a love of not just free-diving, but also marine life and the ocean that was not nearly as strong as before coming to the Island School.
Secondly, since my beginning of free-diving, I have been able to quickly notice my improvement. When I started, we were going out to Tunnel Rock Reef, where the water was about 35 feet deep. The first time I couldn’t even get to the bottom, then the next time I reached the bottom. After that I reached the bottom many times and was able to “chill” at the bottom for a time. Finally, after that I was able to do a swim through. While we were going to Tunnel Rock, we also went to Cathedral Reef every now and then. Cathedral is about 55 feet deep, much deeper and harder than Tunnel Rock, with an extremely long swim through. After working at it for a while, I can now reach the bottom and wait at Cathedral as well as Tunnel Rock. This large increase in my free-diving abilities has come through help of the instructors as well as pushing my limits. It feels great to be able to see yourself grow, and this theme is present in many parts of the Island School, but for me it is greatest in Free-Diving.
I am extremely grateful to have this experience, and it has been made even better with all of the work and fun of Free-Diving.