Books: DEEP by James Nestor

When I meet people for the first time and talk about my job as a Freedive Instructor, the question most people ask first is, “So, how deep can you go?”.

This reflects the perception that freediving is all about depth, which is very much the image portrayed since the release of the movie “The Big Blue”.

The 60 Minutes TV program has aired stories on freedivers attempting great feats of endurance in both length and depth of freediving. As a discipline it is one of the most arduous in it’s final execution, these athletes and explorers are to be commended for their commitment and bravery.

The author of Deep, James Nestor first had his introduction to freediving at the World Freediving Depth Championships in Kalamata, Greece, an event run by Stavros Kastrinakis, who I had the pleasure of being taught by as I developed the skills of a freediver.

James’s opinion of freediving meanders through the book, from the first sightings of elite athletes blacking out in depth competition, to freediving with sharks and sperm whales for research.

It is a fascinating read, to watch James as he learns about freediving, the ocean, the adventures of diving on under on one breath. The tales of him undertaking his first freediving course, of saddling up with freediving instructors to develop his own personal representation of what it means to be a freediver.

You don’t have to read far to feel the strong current of what James learned through his freediving journey. On page 4 he writes:

In a world of seven billion people, where every inch of land has been mapped…the sea remains the final unseen, untouched, and undiscovered wilderness, the planet’s last great frontier.

All the stress, noise, and distractions of life are left at the surface. The ocean is the last truly quiet place on Earth.

These more philosophical freedivers get a glassy look in their eyes when they describe their experiences; it’s the same look seen in the eyes of Buddhist monks or emergency room patients who have died then been resuscitated minutes later. Those who have made it to the other side. And best of all, the divers will tell you, “It’s open to everyone”.

This is not just a book about freediving and the underwater discoveries one can make. It explores the many ways you as an individual can find a way to freedive your own way. Whether that’s going deep to find your personal limits, or being 20 metres down swimming with sharks, dolphins or whales to get a first hand sense of echo location, magnetoreception or feeling the dive response kick in.

Maybe you’re a marine biologist or oceanographer and you’ve been asked to deliver supplies to Aquarius, the underwater lab in the USA, a task made easier on breathhold.

Or perhaps you want to enjoy hearing the chatter of dolphin clicks as they talk to each other?

It could be that you just want to know what it feels like to swim with the fish on one breath.

James Nestor’s DEEP is a wonderful portrayal on freediving and the adventure that awaits you on your quest. I’d highly recommend it. Except if your ambition is to only go deep!

Purchase it on-line here via Amazon.