A freediving school based in Gozo has just introduced the very first European Freediving Festival to Malta – and when it’s not teaching all of its magical free diving tricks to beginners, the divers are setting national records.
“It’s a dynamic zen,” co-founder of Innerdive, Luke Cassar said. “You have to focus on the free-fall sensation and really, truly, and deeply relax.”
While the diving instructor might appear to be referring to comfortable sitting-room meditation, the truth couldn’t be further from this assumption. Submerged 120-feet beneath the surface of Malta’s Mediterranean is where Luke, and co-directors Jesper Stechmann and Anja Senn from Innerdive find their inner-zen.
The festival itself runs all week until 16th September, and is open to everyone; from beginners intrigued by the concept, and physical, spiritual, and psychological benefits of the sport, to world champions like co-founder Jesper Stechmann, and other certified divers competing for world titles. Introduction classes and discussions are offered to people who are new to the sport, while certified divers (who have safety buddies beside them) are welcome to challenge the fresh freediving records in Malta.
The festival offers a variety of events, including a static competition where divers essentially remain still underwater for as long as they can manage – typically around five minutes for the more practiced athletes.
“You tap into a different state of being towards the end,” Luke Cassar said. “It’s almost a euphoric state. Your mind is thoughtless – just, peaceful. When you train enough, there’s no panic. You transcend the urge to breath. Freediving athletes really strengthen the power of mind over body.”
There are also three depth competitions being held:
Free Immersion Diving – divers can use a rope to guide them as far as they can manage, however they must maintain the same weight throughout their dive and are not allowed to use fins to propel them down, or back to the surface.
Constant Weight Diving – Divers may use their fins, and a rope to guide them down. However, one can’t tug on the rope to assist in propulsion.
No Fins Diving – Divers must use only their arms and legs to reach their depth, no fins are allowed.
On top of their first annual competition, Innerdive is leading expeditions out to shipwrecks and caves around the Maltese archipelago, giving world class divers a taste of Malta’s unparalleled underwater world; the heart of the Mediterranean.
Innerdive hope to not only continue hosting annual freediving competitions, but to put Malta on the map as the premier training destination for professional competitors leading up to other world challenges. Apparently, the underwater landscape surrounding our islands is simply perfect for freediving.
“Malta is the perfect place to host this. We have 100 metres to dive, and another 100 metres after that,” Luke Cassar said. “There are very few places like this in the world.”
If you think you’ve got the lungs to handle it, give these gents a call and dive deep for some underwater zen.