There is big news coming out of the Cayman Islands. Even though the month of March is on the way out, some very special diving memories were made in March, incredible and everlasting in nature.
Divetech, one of the top-rated dive facilities on the island, and ranked a Certificate of Excellence 2015 Winner by TripAdvisor, is located just a few miles north of the famous Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. From Saturday, March 19, 2016 through Saturday, March 26, 2016, the dive operation hosted a week long freediving training camp in the clear, deep waters of Northwest Point. Divetech also provided accommodations at Divetech’s Lighthouse Point Dive Resort, just steps away from some of Grand Cayman’s ultimately supreme dive sites.
The freedom of diving untethered below the surface, with no inhibitions and no tanks, brings with it a sense of excitement, glory, and yet, a certain amount of risk. Sharing that common sense of adventure, campers quickly became friends over the course of the week. Freedivers represented Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona and California as they spent the week sharpening their skills at an ideal location. Not only did they share a strong love of the sport, but ocean conservation was also a top priority to each of the camp attendees.
“It’s one of the fastest growing aspects of the dive industry,” said Nick Fazah of East Coast Divers in Boston, MA and SSI Freediving Training Director. He travels all over the world training freedivers and teaching classes. He teams up with Divetch as well. Fazah organized his first training camp in the Cayman Islands, saying it won’t be his last.
“Freediving is new and exciting – it has that edge and requires a certain level of physical endurance. For most people, freediving is a personal challenge.”
Divetech’s Jo Mikutowicz, an avid free diver, agrees. “It’s a very quiet sport and it takes a lot of focus and concentration within yourself. As soon as you go below the surface of the sea everything is silent and your brain will want to give up before your body does, so mental focus is very important.”
Besides having fun, top skills of focus and coordination were on the agenda for the week as the training began. Training camp included pool work and classroom presentations at the dive shop, and the majority of the time in deep water just offshore. The dive site is perfect for all training levels because, after a short swim, divers reach a mini wall that starts at 40 feet and drops off to 65 feet, and then they can swim further out to the main wall that starts at 65 feet and drops off into the deep blue abyss. When the wind kicked up, Divetech provided a dive boat to take the group to the calm side of the island for their daily activities.
Divetech has long promoted freediving, and hosting the camp with Nick Fazah has created a natural partnership to advance the sport.
“Divetech is awesome,” said Fazah. “Most of their dive instructors are very good freedivers and they are all active. Freedivers are part of a cool community of like-minded people who, regardless of their skill level, get along and help each other out. Everyone has very similar views on ocean conservation.”
Fazah says most attendees were recreational freedivers but there were also a number of dive professionals. All are working on the various forms of discipline for the sport, both physical and psychological, as they complete different levels of training from basic certification to instructor trainer level. Nutrition lessons were also included, and each day began with a yoga session in the warm Caribbean sun.
“Freediving is also a personal journey for people who want to explore what they are personally capable of in the natural underwater world, he explains. “Yoga is about focusing on breathing and position of the body. Yoga is about looking within yourself and free diving is about a connection with the ocean, its very cool.”
“Everyone should try freediving because it is a very safe sport and really pushes your mind to overcome doubts,” agrees Jo Mikutowicz. “It’s a great way to explore the ocean in a different way and spend time underwater in a very silent world. People will be amazed at what their bodies are capable of.”
More good news came out of the weeklong camp. The training camp was such a success that it will become an annual event, and Mikutowicz says many of those in attendance were ready to put deposits down for next year’s event. Fazah was ecstatic that there was so much talent in one of the most desirable destinations in the world and they all loved the freediving camp, taking home with them some very valuable freediving knowledge.