The journey of a freediver, expectations and realisations.

Have you ever wondered what it is like to freedive a remote part of the Indonesian coral triangle? But the thought of freediving these remote reefs seems a little intimidating?

I had the opportunity to interview Devlin, a new level one freediver that joined us on our last freediving adventure to Raja Ampat.

Devlin reveals the game changer that aided her freediving progression and her most memorable experience freediving in Raja Ampat.

Growing up in Northern California with her adventurous parents, Devlin was lucky enough to enjoy the ocean as a child, snorkelling and playing in the surf boogie boarding.

She developed a healthy respect for the ocean from a young age.

Fast forward a few years and Devlin’s nomadic lifestyle leads her to Bali. The Island of the Gods boasts some of the best surfing and freediving spots in Indonesia.

During our week out at sea, freediving in Raja Ampat. We stayed on the most beautiful phinisi (traditional wooden yacht). I was impressed with Devlin’s freediving progression, so I thought I would pick her brains and get her reflection on her freediving journey to date.

Why did you take your first freediving course?

Devlin: I made some freediving friends in Amed, and they taught me to duck dive one day in Jemeluk bay. It was super weird and disorienting to be upside down and see the deep blue of the depths, but it was also extremely beautiful. They were like fish, fully enjoying it and looking so relaxed with something that I found quite intimidating. I was inspired by them. 

I also liked the connection to meditation and had the idea that it would be the ultimate form of meditation for me.  

When you decided to join a freediving liveaboard to Raja Ampat, what were your initial thoughts?

Devlin: I was extremely excited. I had no expectations. But I knew that just the beautiful nature would take my breath away. And it did!

I can remember that my level 1 course at Apneista, left me feeling super relaxed during a very stressful period of work. My Raja Ampat trip also came on a break between a busy work schedule, so I suppose I was hoping that it would be the vacation I needed, to turn my phone off and connect to myself and the sea. 

What surprised you the most about the underwater world of Raja Ampat?
Devlin: Aliens! Hahaha, just the colours and variety of weird-looking sea life that I had never seen before, like Christmas tree worms and incredible corals. I loved the sea walls.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 is the best). How confident do you feel about your freediving skills/comfort at the START of the trip?

Devlin: I don’t freedive much since I live in Ubud, so maybe a 5. 

On a scale of 1-10 (10 is the best). How confident did you feel about your freediving skills/comfort at the END of the trip?

Devlin: 10! Not because my skills are at level 10. But because my comfort in the ocean, with the gear, with the protocols and with my body greatly improved. I feel I could freedive anywhere, at any time of day (though I still prefer good conditions). There was a swim-through that I was too afraid to do, even though I probably could have done it, but my confidence also comes from knowing that it’s ok, not to push myself if I’m not comfortable. So that makes me feel safer. 

What do you feel was the biggest game changer for improving your freediving skills?

Devlin: It’s funny because I thought freediving would be about mastering my discomfort so I could bypass the initial urge to breathe and lengthen my breath hold. What helped me, was simply being distracted by the beauty and having so much fun under the water. Not that I would just forget that I needed to breathe. Not the spiritual breakthrough I was expecting, haha, but it did very much improve my breath-hold. 

What freediving skill was physically the most challenging for you?

Devlin: Holding the breath for longer durations.

Did you learn anything about yourself during the trip? If so, how have you integrated this new knowledge? 

Devlin: Just that I’m so at home in the ocean and that I want to do more :) 

What is your favourite memory from the trip?
Devlin: So many amazing ones! I think my favourite dive was the channel with the current that took us between two islands early on in the trip. I also loved the one we did with the fast current in Wayag drifting down to that beautiful lagoon at the end. I guess I love drift dives. Also, diving with bioluminescence at night! I didn’t want that dive to end. 

What would be your next step in your freediving journey?

Devlin: I was hoping to join the Menjangan freediving retreat in Aug! But I’ll be heading to the US instead. I don’t see myself training freediving as a sport, but I now want to explore more of beautiful Indonesia in the water. I also would be interested in improving my breath hold so I could get involved in planting corals one day and helping reefs to grow back. 

If you could be any sea creature, what would you be and why?

Devlin: Hahaha. I love fish. They are so chill, floating along, hanging out with their friends, until the moment when they need to be alert, and then they dart into action with clarity and determination. But that’s more like my spirit sea animal. If I could BE any creature, I might like to be a sea turtle. Sleep a lot, live a long life, travel long distances… nice :)  

Drift diving in Raja Ampat is some of our favourites as well! The freediving adventure liveaboards are perfect if you are not too confident with your freedive skills. Every trip is guided by experienced freediving instructors and boat crew, making the experience as comfortable as possible.

We have more adventures scheduled to Raja Ampat for this year and next.

written by Anna Richardson

21st July 2022

Get in contact for more info or check out the schedule page.

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