When I first came to Dahab in Egypt I was planning to stay for three months just to freedive. My goal was to reach 20 meters! What I did not know at that time was that I would leave as a qualified Level 2 Freediving Instructor diving deeper than 40 meters with fins. I completed the so called “zero to hero” program which basically forms a freediving instructor out of a more or less complete beginner. One might say “only 3 months? How can you get enough experience, knowledge and skills in just three months to become a teacher?” Well, let me explain you why.
Freediving, in general, is a sport of which existence only few people know. So the techniques how to hold your breath or how to stay underwater for a long time and dive deeper than most people can imagine are as unknown as the sport itself. This allows a quick progress right from the very beginning. Of course it takes some talent whether or not it takes three months or six months to finish the program but sooner or later everybody gets there. Already in the first level, the beginner course, where you learn about proper breathing techniques, the right way of finning underwater and your body’s response to a breath hold, makes you reach unexpected achievements. The simple fact to commit to something for months time on an everyday- basis can create what is thought to be a miracle.
I nearly spent every day of my zero to hero program in the water, training and assisting already certified instructors to gain the needed experience for the final challenge: the instructor course.
The instructor course took me seven days and we were four students with very different levels of experience. There was me, a school friend from Germany, who I am working with now in Zanzibar, an Egyptian candidate and now friend and colleague at Freedive Dahab and Andreas Gueldner, now World Record Holder in Scandalopetra, which is a discipline inspired by the ancient Greeks, in which you descend supported by the weight of a stone not wearing any wetsuit or goggles and completely relying on a team to pull you up from in this case incredible 107m below the surface. Andreas also held German National Records in several disciplines. As you see, everybody was kind of different.
I remember very well how the experience I had from helping the other instructors and sitting in their theory classes helped me to actually pass the first academic presentation, which is a rare situation since the standards for becoming an instructor are very high. If you want to teach someone something, first of all you should be able to do it yourself.
It’s unique that you can actually become a professional within sometimes only three months. For some it is just the opportunity to gain new skills during a medium long break from their everyday life. But we also had all kind of people actually quitting their careers for a big life change. Even the age difference is significant. When I started I just got twenty other start when they are older than fifty, but it is not like age would actually restrict your abilities. The age difference is really significant in competitions, courses and training but it really does not seem to matter that much since freediving takes a lot of calmness which is sometimes more likely to be found in people with “a bit more life- experience”.
It seems to be quite a big decision to quit a job where you might have worked in for ten years jumping in the blue starting something completely unknown to you. It definitely takes a lot of commitment which you definitely notice when you see how keen people are to improve their technique and get better and better in the sport during the program.
But there really must be something about this sport that takes people under its spell, anyway I better leave it you to discover it yourself.