Into the water

By Jens Fischer | September 20, 2018 

I am sitting here, looking at the sea. Lately I have been able to do that a lot. That wasn’t always the case. I grew up far away from the water.

The summer holidays and the wild Atlantic

As a child I loved the holidays. With my parents and siblings we camped almost every summer for a few weeks on the Atlantic coastline of south France. The sea was blue, wild and smelled like a sea has to - unknown, salty, like seaweed and pure adventure.

Some big waves, several meters tall, crashed against rocks or ran out on the beach as perfect surf waves. Fascinating, sometimes terrifying. If I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, I immediately felt the power of the water. I was pushed down, whirled around until I couldn’t remember where it was up or down and rammed headfirst into the sand. I will never forget this experience. I learned to love, respect and to fear the sea.

Life far away from the sea

The fascination for water remained for years. I devoured novels about pirates and seafarers

of all kinds and admired the underwater world I saw in illustrated books. Bizarre, colorful animals with eight arms and several hearts. And whales, even bigger than elephants.

During my studies I heard the call of the water less and less, city life fascinated me - sports, rock’n’roll and learning were the focus of my everyday life.

A time full of nice memories that I wouldn't want to miss.

Although in everyday life my longing for the sea took a backseat position the occasional holidays led me to the water again and again. I wasn’t keen on travels far away from the coast and this has hardly changed.

The Italian octopus

In September 2007, during one of those vacations, while snorkeling off the east coast of Sardinia, I dived to the shallow ground and suddenly found myself face to face with an octopus. Wooooow. The rapid change of his color, the elegant movements of his tentacles. And the baffling look. It touched me deep inside. I felt overwhelmed. But then my body reminded me I’m land creature and have to return to the surface to breathe. I filled my lungs with fresh air and dived again. Nothing. The octopus was gone. And I immediately knew: I want to spend more time underwater. I must learn to dive.

Rubber, lead and compressed air - so what?

Preparations for scuba
Jens preparing for a scuba dive

A little later, diving course in Egypt. First moment in the water I realized this is what I wanted to do. While our diving instructor showed us the exercises I forgot nearly everything around me except the small perch which romped around us. Probably we were invaders, and he tried to evict us from his kingdom. Fascinating. I couldn’t get enough. It didn’t matter I needed a load of equipment: a regulator, a diving tank, weight belt and jacket. Whatever! I was under water - the only thing that counted. Every second spent on the surface seemed a waste of time.

One year later we had another diving vacation at the Red Sea. From now on we could have spent every holiday under water. I’ve been hooked. But Eva missed hiking, discovering new places on land. Even though she slowly could relax more under water, it was obvious that she didn’t enjoy scuba as much as I did. So during the next few years we spent more holidays ashore and diving faded into the background.

A brief vacation in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean

It was not until 2013 that I dived again, this time on the Azores. What a contrast to the Red Sea. But no less exciting. The passion was suddenly raised again. Since then I have pursued diving - in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea and in little lakes, too. In summer as in winter, during the day or at night. With good visibility or in muddy waters. The obsession has not decreased until now.

It too works without...

2015 we went to the Red Sea once more. Eva had signed up for the SSI Advanced Open Water and a friend from Berlin accompanied us. Due to a cold  one morning my two buddies couldn’t dive. I welcomed the opportunity for a preparatory course in freediving. After one and a half day of coaching, I was delighted that I could hold my breath three times as long as before. Not through physical training, but through relaxation and controlled breathing.

I regarded the class an opportunity to improve my diving experiences, nothing else.

However, I enjoyed the achieved ability to snorkel even a few meters deeper and a little longer than before. But scuba diving remained my primary interest for quite some time.

In the meantime I was lucky to get a sideline as a diver. I worked several hours a week in salty water just in the heart of the city. Jackpot!

... or with a camera in my luggage

One of my coworkers there became a valuable friend and aroused my interest in underwater photography.

I took first pictures with his old camera and in a dry suit with a double tank in a lake close to Berlin. The difference between taking photos submerged compared to dry land photography impressed me a lot. And gladly the initial shots haven’t been too bad. Since then I’ve been working on a deeper understanding of the particularities to create the pictures I have in mind. There is still a long way to go. More about that elsewhere.

One single breath

After several hundred dives with all that equipment I noticed a slow but steady change. Apnea diving became increasingly interesting. I bought literature on apnea training and watched lots of tutorials and videos on YouTube. And started breathing excercises on dry land.

During a holiday in Greece I trained the “advanced snorkeling” and was pleased when I noticed that Eva also got a taste for it. Without all the stuff necessary for scuba diving she felt comfortable underwater for the first time and from now on she was hooked with freediving.

Having in mind the incredible performances of apneists like William Truebridge, Alex Molchanov, Guillaume Néry or Adam Stern, or legends like Jaques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca, Pelizzari and Pipin and many more I don’t dare to name our advanced snorkeling skills “freediving”. But anyway, now it’s time to go one step further and begin the journey into the world of breath-hold diving. Here we go. Tomorrow we start our AIDA Freediving course on Tenerife!

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