Sports & Wellbeing

Hold your breath for this life changing experience

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NUS Freediving Competition Team, 19 Dec 2020 (left to right) Max Ang, Jamie Yeo, Matthew Chia, Davian Chan and B Sanjay.

9 February 2021

Border closures and travel restrictions have made NUS Dive regular overseas dive trips impossible. To be honest, no virtual event can teleport you to the saline smell of the salty sea and the soothing sight of nature’s beauty where time stands still when you are diving underwater.

Dive-picsNUS Dive’s first Overseas Freediving at Tioman Island, Malaysia, 21 Sep 2019.

For a dive enthusiast like Mohan Phani, a Year 4 Engineering student, he turned to exploring new methods of being underwater. For the first time, freediving courses at the University Sports Centre (USC) were introduced to the NUS community. This has helped students to make new like-minded friends in spite of online lessons.

“I wanted to share this feeling of relaxation when holding our breath underwater. Freediving has taught me how to stay calm under pressure and de-stress from daily work. I wanted my peers to have that life-changing experience.”  

Mohan explained his motivation for organising the freediving courses which took place on 21 September 2020.

During this course for beginners, students learnt the art of breath holding and how to hold their breath longer underwater. As a sport, freediving consists of two pool disciplines:
1) Static apnea - requires the diver to hold his breath underwater stationary
2) Dynamic apnea - requires a diver to hold his breath while swimming underwater

StaticDynamicLeft: Static apnea attempt by Mohan Phani with Safety Diver Max Ang, 14 Dec 2020
Right: Dynamic apnea attempt by Tan Yan Zhao, 19 Sep 2019

Currently freediving sessions have been conducted on campus, but NUS Dive will bring training into the open water including Lazarus Island this semester.

Dive-OpenWaterMax Ang (left), Min En Yeo (right) at Lazarus Island for an Open Water Dive Session, 20 Dec 2020.

Although it sounds like a physical feat, NUS Dive assures that freediving is a “mind over matter” activity. It is about stepping out of your own comfort zone and pushing yourselves to your personal limits. And in doing so, you can enjoy a sense of calmness and serenity. 

One of the 25 participants described her experience as ironic. Michell Goh, a Year 3 Science student said that this sport is calming yet exciting. And it is in this irony that intrigues her the most.

Another participant, Matthew Chia, a Year 2 Engineering student summarised his experience as giving him a sense of freedom. “Once you have taken your last breath and submerge beneath the surface, you just feel a sense of bliss and calm – a positive limbo state.”


Find out more:

Interested to sign up for the next freediving session? Join us on 27 Feb for a freediving pool certification course at the Sports Lifestyle Centre. Sign up here.
Also, follow @nus_dive or look out for more events on NUSync.


Mohan Phani, NUS Freediving Team Captain
Mahrunisa Fathiyah, Sports Manager

Photos by NUS Dive