Human Journey

Freediving Cape Town’s Antipolis: Explore Sunken Tankers on a Single Breath

Most people I talk to about the sport of Freediving recoil in horror. 

“So let me get this straight,” they say. “You hold your breath for extended periods of time; you dive down into rusty wrecks on the sea floor – that’s without a Scuba tank right? Right. The water is sometimes less that 10 degrees Celsius and is home to one of the largest numbers of great white sharks in the world.”

“Well, yes.” I say. “When you put it like that… but it’s wonderful,” I say.

By this point I have already lost them. No matter what I tell them they shake their head and mutter words like ‘suicide’ and ‘madness’.

It may seem crazy to dive down into the depths without oxygen, but I believe feediving is how we as mammals are meant to explore the sea – unhindered by heavy equipment and tanks, free to swoop through the water like our close cousins the seals. I’m still a beginner at the sport – studying the art of effective breath-hold, the quiet meditation necessary to go down deep without panicking, the trust in my ability to handle the pressure. When you can accept that human bodies have already somewhat adapted to diving deep in a single breath, it’s possible to let go and allow the ocean to take you in.

Last week I joined Dean Fredericks (Freediver HD) on on one of my first ocean dives – a thrilling baptism of caves and wrecks just off Cape Town’s Atlantic coast. One of these wrecks is a sunken Greek tanker called Antipolis – which met its fate in 1977 after being blown ashore by howling gales.

The ghosts of the ship still remain below the surface, beneath an eerie bed of kelp and seaweed.

Here’s the video from the day:

Paul Steyn is a widely-published multi-media content producer from South Africa, and regular contributor to National Geographic News and blogs. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel magazine, and now focuses on storytelling in all its forms. In 2013, he joined a team of researchers and Bayei on a 250km transect of the Okavango Delta on traditional mokoros and blogged about the journey. In 2016, he accompanied the Great Elephant Census team in Tanzania and broke the groundbreaking results on National Geographic News . Contact: Follow Paul on Twitter or Instagram

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