Learn freediving in Dubai
What’s On team up with Hype to preview a beginner’s freediving course takes place at Hamdan Sports Complex. Learn freediving in Dubai / UAE.
A new beginner’s freediving course takes place at Hamdan Sports Complex in April (Sunday 12 at 6pm, or Friday 17 at 3pm), encouraging those with a love of the ocean to try something a little different. What’s On pals Hype caught up with the Camilla Argent, a freediving enthusiast and underwater model, who will be taking the course.
What do you do here? When I first arrived, I was performing in an underwater show. It was about pearl diving in the UAE, so one of us would be a pearl diver while the others performed an underwater fight scene. Afterwards, I started teaching pool-based freediving here, and continued with my underwater performing and modelling work – I’ve been in mermaid shows for several Dubai hotels, including Atlantis. I’ve also done some underwater shoots for international magazines, including an underwater swimwear shoot with Billabong, in Abu Dhabi.
When did you realise you had a talent for freediving? I started scuba diving quite young, so it was something I’d grown up with, and I was aware of freediving from a young age. I used to have a signed poster of world champion freediver Tanya Streeter on my wall. But it wasn’t until university that I gave it any thought. I fainted during a lecture, and the doctor told me that I had a low resting heart rate, and I’d make a good freediver. I looked into it and joined a club where we trained in a pool.
Why do you love freediving? I love scuba and freediving, but apart from both being underwater, they’re completely different. Scuba’s great if you want more time to explore a certain area, but freediving’s something else entirely. When you freedive, you’re exploring the ocean, but you’re getting such a different experience. You become part of the water rather than a visitor. Without tanks, the ocean comes alive. Marine life comes closer and you get this incredible feeling of peace and stillness. It’s a more natural way to experience the underwater world.
How deep can you go and for how long? I can dive to 20 metres and hold my breath for just under five minutes static.
Do you practise by just sitting down and holding your breath? There are different ways to train, and while some of them are obviously in the water, we can also train dry. It’s a bit more complex than just sitting down and holding your breath, but yes – you can improve your breath hold capabilities through certain breathing activities.
What advice would you give to someone who’d like to start freediving? It’s important to learn with a certified instructor. FreedivingUAE run several courses a month, and it’s by far the best way to learn. Freediving’s safe if done correctly but can be dangerous if people don’t follow safety procedures. Don’t try it alone or without supervision from a qualified instructor – and that includes holding your breath in the bath!
Are the waters around the UAE good for freediving and scuba diving? It’s great – the water’s warm all year around, and usually flat. We have one of the most unique marine ecosystems, which is home to the second largest population of dugong in the world. When we go scuba diving, we can easily reach 30 metres, which is a perfect depth for beginner and intermediate divers. For the more advanced, we do trips to Oman where there’s deeper water.
Is there a freediving scene in the UAE? There is a great freediving scene here, and it’s growing all the time. We’re selecting a national team, and every year the Fazza Freediving Championship’s in Dubai, which attracts freedivers from all over the globe. It’s a great sport for the UAE, as it builds on the country’s pearl diving heritage.
Where’s your favourite place in the world to go diving? There are beautiful reefs off the West Coast of Australia, but I love diving in Cornwall, in the UK. Even if it’s freezing, there are playful seals and beautiful kelp forests.
Beginner’s Freediving Course, Hamdan Sports Complex, Emirates Road, Dubai. Sunday, April 12, 6pm, or Friday, April 17, 3pm; Dhs1,850. Taxi: Hamdan Sports Complex. freedivinguae.com