Most people can hold their breath for about a minute, not nearly long enough to explore the sea’s mysterious depths. Most divers opt to stay strapped to an oxygen tank, but the adventurous go in search of bigger thrills. With the right training, it’s possible to comfortably hold your breath for up to seven minutes and extend your body’s limits with the sport of freediving.
After two days of training at the Blue Immersion freediving school on the Thai island of Koh Tao, rookie freedivers can plunge to 60ft in one and a half minutes. The school teaches people to waken the mammalian diving reflex – our bodies’ natural instinct to adapt to a reduction in oxygen – enabling divers to go deeper. Stay for a month and you’ll be able to go past the 130ft mark in three minutes. “Nothing prepares you for the thrill of descending in that deep blue silence,” says Carrie Miller, a SSI-certified freediver from Perth, Australia.
“It’s incredible – another world opens up, another state of being. It’s pure clarity, like you’re part of the ocean.” Anyone can learn, but there are dangers. “The pressure increase puts the freediver under risk of lung squeeze, and the lack of oxygen can lead to a black out,” says Linda Paganelli, a co-owner of Blue Immersion and a 15-time Italian freediving record holder. “Freediving regularly and gradually increasing the depth helps. Being relaxed and comfortable in the water counts more than being fit; that’s the real key to freediving.”
A two-day course is 5,500 Baht ( £100/ €125).
HIGH THAI TIMES
Dry-Land fun in Koh Tao
Koh Tao is only about 21km² but some places are hard to reach on foot. Hire a quad bike if you want to explore the rugged interior.
The island is a bouldering mecca. Tackle the best and most unspoiled sites under the guidance of the experienced instructors.
Get pumped with perfect views on top of the water when wakeboarding, the newest addition to the action sports Koh Tao has on offer.