Freedive Gili & Instructor Course Preparation #4

by | Mar 20, 2018

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Naurarat Suksomstarn

Naurarat Suksomstarn

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Well, I made it safely to Gili Trawangan after a long and exhausting journey by automobiles, planes and boats. Stepping off the boat I was pleased to discover that not much has changed in the past year and a half and Freedive Gili remains intact and operating as normal. I was greeted by a few familiar faces and a few new ones and happily began to settle myself into seven weeks of uninterrupted freediving bliss.

For those of you unfamiliar with the place, Gili Trawangan is the largest of three tiny islands off the north-west coast of the Indonesian island of Lombok. The islands are most often reached by a fast boat from Bali, which takes around two hours, depending on where you set off from. Gili Trawangan is the most developed island and over the years has garnered a reputation as a hedonistic party Mecca, drawing a typically young, free and drunk contingent of backpackers and tourists from all over the world.

The Gilis still have it.

Although the party scene is easy to find on the main strip of Gili T, the real attraction of the islands is that they are the epitome of an exotic, tropical paradise; white sandy beaches shaded by coconut palms, from where one can walk straight into crystal-clear waters above coral reefs populated by beautiful tropical fish and sea turtles. Now, the Gili islands are not without their problems, it is not the pristine paradise it once was and increasingly creaks under the weight of tourist development, but let’s leave that for another story and concentrate on what makes the Islands a paradise for freedivers; endless deep, warm, clear waters easily accessible from the beach!

Freedive Gili is the world-class freediving centre run by British multiple-record holder Michael Board. It features a couple of nice boats, a very chilled centre with a 25 metre pool, a yoga shala and beautiful cottages, and it was here I came in 2016 to attend my very first freediving courses. I quickly established myself as a stunningly mediocre beginner freediver, but despite the sometimes difficult experience I had doing those first courses, I fell head over heels in love with freediving and was determined to one day return to Freedive Gili to train properly.

One of the first faces to greet me as I arrived was Veronika Chesworth Kruse, who I was excited to meet as she was one of the first people to support The Freedive Café podcast through Patreon.

Adam Stern, his wife Erin and Freedive Gili owner Michael Board

On day two I got an even bigger surprise when Adam Stern turned up at the shop with his wife Erin! Adam was the guest on episode #9 on the podcast, one of the world’s top competitive freedivers and also the face of a very funny, informative and well-produced Youtube channel.

I got in the water the next morning for the first time, pretty excited to be diving off the old boat. My initial plans to be extremely conservative were replaced by less conservative ones and I got my training underway with FIM dives right up to 30m. That all felt great but I noticed that my left ear was equalising much later than my right. The next day I was back in the water but the EQ issue had worsened and my ear ended up squeaky and stuck. Now there was nothing else to do but sit out for a couple of days and let it rest. To be honest, this was what I badly needed anyway. Not just to rest my ear but to recover from the travel and decompress from city life, too.

The Freedive Gili boat takes us out into the open water.

So I slowed down, ran around the island, went to the gym, did yoga and read some books for pleasure. I forgot about my work and the podcast completely for a few days and on Thursday I was back in the water in great form. This session was one of the best I can remember having. Just Veronika and I, and perfect conditions. Veronika is a newly-minted SSI Freedive Instructor and great things lie ahead for her I’m sure. I had a very nice CWT dive to 35m with a mask and lots of other nice dives that left me feeling confident I’ll be able to gently progress back to 40m and beyond in the weeks leading up to my instructor course.

My plan is to focus on keeping my body strong, flexible and clean for the coming 5 weeks. I’ll spend another week here at Freedive Gili training each day in the pool or the big blue, focusing on enjoying every dive regardless of how deep I go and enjoying the company of the wonderful like-minded people who are here.

I’m wrapping up my first week here on Gili T feeling extremely grateful that I’m back to dive with this wonderful school and surrounded by inspiring and supportive people who are as mad about freediving as I am. Look out for a Gili T update at the end of next week before I head of to Gili Air for the start of my AIDA Masters Program at Freedive Flow!

Training in Freedive Gili’s wonderful 25m lane-pool.

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