Into the Blue
While some of us struggle to complete a lap in a 25-metre pool, gasping for air after every stroke, Daniel Parsons can boss it – vertically. Yep, he’s into freediving: an underwater sport that involves taking a big single breath and descending into the ocean’s depths with a pair of fins on and no form of oxygen tank. At the moment, Daniel can dive down to the thirties, but he’s hoping to get past 50 metres later this year. The world record currently sits at 253.2 metres.
“I only started a few months ago when a mate was running courses, because I thought it would be good for surfing. In massive surf, you get smashed and you panic, but when your body starts trying to breathe underwater, you learn to push it further.
“When you free dive, the first five metres don’t feel comfortable. But at 10, your lungs compress and you start to feel nicer. Your body gets so used to it that it becomes relaxing. You just shut your eyes, think of nice things, and once you get to about 12 and a half metres, you start to free fall – just stop kicking and stay completely still.
“It’s so dense down the bottom that when it’s time to come up, you have to put in some effort or you’ll never see the surface again. Some people black out in the last 30-20 metres on the way up. If there’s not enough oxygen in your blood, you can pass out without knowing, but you have a safety diver nearish to the top to help you. They’ll look at your eyes, and if they’ve rolled back into your head, they’ll pull you back up.
“Some people just enjoy following the line as deep as they can go, but I much prefer exploring – swimming down, sitting on the bottom and just looking at shit.
“One of the coolest things I’ve done was dive around the wreck of a WWII plane in Kas, Turkey. Another was checking out the Blue Hole just north of Dahab in Egypt, and Eel Garden which is also near there. On the ocean floor, there’s 1000 little eels that just poke their heads out and look at you.”
Gemma Clarke is the editor-in-chief of Global Hobo. She spends her time contracting tinea in foreign countries, taking afternoon naps and drinking red wine through a straw.