Freediving

Şahika Ercümen

Saturday, October 02, 2011— October’s fullest moon (“Hunter’s”) will rise on the 20th.

I stumbled across an article, in “The Economist”, about freediving, a sport new to me. Its World Championship is this weekend in Kas, Turkey. A Turkish woman, Sahika Ercumen, is a record-holder and will appear at Kas. She plans to make a dive of about 90 meters, putting her to a depth of slightly over 295 feet, or about 98 yards.

The 98 yards caught my eye. I’m used to viewing my property in 100 yard sections. West from the house to the horses is about 100 yards. East from the house to the street is similar. There’s approximately 100 yards between the property’s south and north boundaries.

Around 100 yards is a mega-deep diving. Besides, divers do it without any breathing apparatus..

I find that freediving equates to “breath-hold diving”. A diver without an air tank holds his or her breath as long as possible before resurfacing. Thus, a diver travels only as far as air lasts in the person’s lungs. The sport has physical and mental rewards, from the incredible pushing of oneself to the limits. For this, the most important training is learning to breathe properly.

That Turkish champion, Sahika Ercumen, is 36 years old and has degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics. She’s been active in swimming and underwater sports since she was 13 years old, and today, holds world records from national and international competitions. She’s also Turkey’s first woman freediving instructor.

Ercumen routinely plans dives to last three minutes and reach depths of 90 meters or more. She’s very capable with breathing techniques. On entering water, she can slow her heart and metabolic rates. Her breathing draws oxygenated blood away from her extremities and toward her lungs, which are being compressed to a fraction of their usual size. Her correct breathing lets Ercumen leave air, light, sound, and dive successfully to great depths.

She’s also an activist who conducts underwater social responsibility projects to demonstrate both passion and gratitude for water. She’s officially the “Life Below Water Advocate”, for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in Turkey.

This has taken me 100+ yards into new learning, about a sport and an outstanding competitor. This weekend, I’ll try to follow competition and scoring, and of course, while greatly interested in Ercumen’s dive.

Dear Friends: The bigger world introduces a new sport and my new hero, in Turkey! Diana

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