To push the limits, you must first reach them..
I’ve had some pretty nervous moments in the ocean over the years, from near drowning in Hawaii when I was just 17 to horrific hold downs and riveting reef slams over my years as a waterman. The ocean is a heavenly playground for many, it can also be a terrifying edge of eminent destruction for others, although depending on where you enter it, and what you enter it for, it can be a fair mix of both. However, it does and always will be an extremely unpredictable and spontaneous environment, even for the most trained and diligent of watermen. The concept of being trained and the energy invested into becoming a trained ocean goer, not only provides a desired confidence but is a responsibility that one should take into consideration for both themselves and for others around them. Knowledge of the ocean, the ability to read its waves and understand its ways comes naturally by interacting with it daily and develops just enough confidence to take you out of your comfort zone and into the depths, however, it’s the physical training and mental preparedness that will get you back to land in the event of something unplanned happening, which believe me, if you spend enough time in the ocean, unplanned events will happen, eventually and inevitably. In my experience, being capable of handling a worse case scenario in the ocean is not just a good skill to have up your sleeve, but a necessary requirement if you are to enter the ocean at all.
Since my near drowning incident in Hawaii way back in 2004 I’ve had a subconscious fear that has been somewhat suppressed for a long time; running out of oxygen. A fear that I’m sure most people would naturally have but to me it became a very personal one. It was never a disabling fear, it never overcame my faith nor was it a fear that held me back from anything that stood before me, but it was a discomfort, one that constantly nibbled at my confidence. From interacting with the ocean for almost 2 decades I’ve naturally accumulated a reasonable amount of general ocean knowledge, especially wave knowledge from my former years wave riding. It’s not enough though, and was never going to be enough to eradicate this well established discomfort that I’d been harbouring. I’ve always known the ultimate secret in handling heavy situations; to relax, stay calm, which has got me threw some very interesting moments..
I'm the little spec in front of the mountain.. (Image by Mikey McArthur)
But I needed more, a specific training and guidance to overcome this subconscious heckling..
I came across One Ocean International early last year through some friends accounts via instagram (a useful tool it is) and was immediately interested. My good friend Matty Blakers and I had a south west oz road trip in the works for some time and decided to make it happen in April and locked in the ticket west. Knowing One Ocean is based in Margaret River (West Oz) I called them up and immediately felt a warm reception from Joe, the man behind the watermanship training program and I didn’t hesitate to confirm my spot on the Specialist Watermanship training program. During the course, Joe and his partner unravelled the science behind the way our bodies respond to the underwater world, what happens when we are holding our breath and the techniques used in tolerating increased CO2; our bodies reaction to having limited oxygen. We covered apnea training, high and low heart rate training, depth training as well as ocean rescues and handling many types of scenarios. Personally, I went into the course quite nervous, but Joes well composed and calm approach created an atmosphere that we could all excel in, and confidently push our limits within a positive environment.
I didn’t break any world records, not even close, but that wasn’t the goal, the goal was something much personally greater, to reach my own limit, and then go further. To take my PB further down the line. To replace fear with a confidence that will take my level of performance further than ever. I think that in itself is such a great achievement that is reachable for anyone with a little determination and motivation. For the books, I reached a personal best of a 3 min 40 second static breath hold and dived to 17m at the HMAS shipwreck off Dunsborough, but stats aside, I came away with such an emotional high, from conquering a challenge that I’d been putting off too long and having the courage to just confront it and beat it, and in addition to that, I now have a richer understanding of my mind and bodies capabilities and capacity and greater preparedness when entering the ocean. One Ocean provided the perfect environment to confidently increase my comfort zone and be trained in ocean skills that will not only prevent my own injury or death but potentially prevent that of anothers.
Whatever your passion is or whatever it involves, I recommend seeking out those that can help you advance and better yourself so that you can get more out of what you love to do, and be safer doing it too. It’s an emotional and beautiful feeling to overcome a challenge you set before yourself. Don’t be one to procrastinate about what needs to be done, just be one to do it and you’ll be that much better off and grateful when you get to the other side. Don’t isolate yourself though, get around the people that will help you rise higher, go deeper, and become a better you because as the saying goes “You are the company you keep.”
If you’re a waterman seeking to better understand the ocean and your ability to interact with it with a rich confidence, then get in touch with Joe @OneOceanInternational (www.oneoceaninternational.org) and don’t talk about doing it, just book in and do it.
( All dive images courtesy of Joe Knight @OneOceanInternational by Joe & Luke Campbell. Thanks Joe! )
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