What The Heck Is Free-Diving Anyway?
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Sure, a lot of people can swim underwater. Those that are trained for water sports can even do it quite well. But the pool of people that are able to do it for extended periods of time or under extreme conditions (without the use of breathing apparatus such as scuba gear) are few and far between.
Ashleigh Baird is one of those very individuals. Not only is she one of the best free divers (underwater diving that relies on the divers' ability to hold their breath until resurfacing rather than on the use of a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear) in the world, but she comes from severe health struggles that would usually prevent a person from attaining this level of athleticism.
In her youth she was very inactive. In fact, she wasn’t even able to walk on her own for any significant distance. Ashleigh was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that prevented her body from fighting off almost any sickness. She has lived with this disease for her entire life and continues to struggle with it on occasion, although it is much better managed at this point.
Ashleigh decided to make the transition into freediving at the professional level after a moment of reckoning with herself. Ashleigh had been working as an architect at a prominent firm, but slowly came to the realization that she was uninspired by and falling out of love with her career.
On the hunt for passion, Ashleigh realized that diving gave her the escape and exhilaration that she so desperately craved. After further developing her abilities as a diver she tried out for the olympic team and made the cut. After this accomplishment, Ashleigh realized that following her passions absolutely was the best route to a fulfilled and successful life.
After years of training and perfecting her craft, Ashleigh has developed a profound capacity to dive deep and hold her breath for seemingly impossible lengths of time. Her deepest dive was well over 200 feet. To put into perspective just how deep this actually is, an intro scuba dive generally takes you about 40-60 feet deep. Without the aid of breathing apparatus, weights, or a wetsuit, Ashleigh descended roughly five times deeper.
She continues to hone her skills by spending as much time in and under the water as possible. She attributes some of her successes to her superhuman breath control. Although there is some fierceness required to get involved in a sport like this, with enough practice anyone can achieve the feats that Ashleigh has. If you’re excited about freediving, start with small goals. A pool will do just fine for beginners! As Ashleigh demonstrates in her performance, diseases don’t always have to hold you back in life.