Hold breath, dive deep: Atoll Divers Seychelles offers freediving courses
Freediving is the practice of underwater diving that depends on breath-holding until reemerging to the surface rather than relying on scuba gear to breathe. (Fabienne Fardial)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A couple in Seychelles has opened a freediving school and a dedicated space for divers to meet close to Beau Vallon beach in the north of Mahe, the main island.
Called Atoll Divers Seychelles, the venture is the brainchild of Emilie Chetty and her partner Arthur Anglade. The business opened its doors to clients in June.
Atoll Divers offers scuba diving experiences and has a freediving school, a discipline not so common in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
|Atoll Divers Seychelles is the brainchild of Emilie Chetty and her partner Arthur Anglade. (Fabienne Fardial) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
Freediving is the practice of underwater diving that depends on breath-holding until reemerging to the surface rather than relying on scuba gear to breathe. Past cultures used it as a method to harvest pearls, sponges, and food.
Anglade, a freediving and scuba diving Instructor, told SNA that "at the school, we teach you the breathing techniques and take you out in the water to train you on how to be able to practice the sport safely. Once you know how to hold your breath in the water, you can train yourself to go further in depths being mindful of your body and the meditative process of water on your body. We teach freediving enthusiasts to always practice this sport with a buddy for safety."
Anglade, who received his training in freediving in Dahab, Egypt, the home of a large freediving community, said it takes even the most experienced freediver a lifetime to master the art of holding's one breath and pushing for further depths. He has explored different freediving locations in Seychelles for the past six years.
|Breathing technique with Anglade is a necessary preparation for freediving. (Fabienne Fardial) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
Atoll Divers' freediving courses start with a two-and-a-half-day training at 340 Euros with a 20 percent discount for locals. It encompasses breathing techniques on land, preparation, and guidance in the water. It also offers a 50 percent discount on Scuba Dives for Seychellois.
Aside from the freediving courses, Atoll Divers has also turned a garden of an old family home into a sanctuary for those who love the deep blue ocean.
"As divers, we realised that Seychelles does not have a dedicated space for divers to meet, unwind after diving and share their underwater experiences. We thought the garden would be the perfect place to set up the school with the atmosphere we had in mind. It is also at the right spot in Beau Vallon to attract both tourists and locals," Chetty told SNA.
|Chetty and her partner hope that opening the freediving school in Seychelles will promote a sport for young people. (Fabienne Fardial) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
Located along the road leading to the popular Coral Strand hotel, the garden has a freshly painted pewter-coloured wall to entice ocean enthusiasts to curiously walk through the gates. The center which welcomes everyone with a casual and relaxed vibe, inherited rustic furniture, and knick-knacks from the Chetty's late grandfather, Srinivasan Chetty, a well-known town merchant.
"I grew up here, the house behind the garden is my grandmother's and grandfather's house. We thought why not make use of the large garden that's hardly used," said Chetty.
She said the venture started during restriction on movement put in place last year when Seychelles started having positive cases of COVID-19.
"When the restrictions were lifted, we got some help from some friends and few neighbours, of course, maintaining the health measures of COVID-19 regulations. Most days, however, it was just us two, him doing woodwork and I, painting away," said Chetty.
The collective efforts beautifully set the ambiance of comfortable, authentic sitting areas set with natural elements of driftwood, coconut tree stumps found on the beach, and wood from the forest.
|The garden is a dedicated space for divers to meet, unwind after diving and share their underwater experiences. (Fabienne Fardial) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
"We looked for bamboo in the forest to build the shower at the back as we wanted to keep the center natural and inviting. We also plan to offer healthy drinks and snacks in the future," she added.
Atoll Divers also offers stretching exercises three times a week on their stretch deck at the center. The owners say anyone can join in this relaxing activity.
"We encourage the locals to come and learn to appreciate the sport. We hope that opening the freediving school in Seychelles will promote a sport for young people. That it will contribute to creating a new form of resource in helping Seychelles' youth turn away from anti-social behavior and to lead those who have turned to drug and alcohol addictions towards something else to look forward to," Chetty told SNA.
Now that we have a school and Dive Hub for divers to meet, we also hope that a community of freedivers will grow in the future. Seychelles is surrounded by the ocean; we should make use of it," Says, Chetty.