Thursday, February 11, 2010

Three Old Scroats and a Mermaid

Yesterday, at 0600, we were on our way to the Similan Islands.
'We' consisted of the diving lads....Graham and Steve (and me), the snorklers...Gary, Mandy, Lyn, Dawn, Mark and Kym plus the star of the show.....the Japanese Ladies' Free Diving record holder... Ai


Our merry band were picked up at the house in a mini bus and driven for hour and half to Koa Lak where we were to meet the boat (and other divers) to head west towards Number Nine Island in the Similan group....a two and half hour boat trip!

The Similans is a fabulous place to dive but it's infinitely better to do the trip on a Dive Liveaboard so you can really get into it. But a day trip was fun and gave us a couple of dives. The main feature of the Similans is the massive underwater granite boulders which give plenty of swims throughs and caves...
however, on this trip, by far the most exciting thing was to watch Ai underwater freediving whilst we were scuba diving.

Free diving has to be the ultimate word in underwater grace.
I first met Ai in Koh Toa seven years ago and watched her filming
an underwater video. Her natural ability was very clear then...incredible control and grace. She and son Tom became friends and studied for their IDC (Padi Instructor) course together. They then both progressed to Freediving and became Freediving Instructors.

The three of us went to Koh Lanta in Feb 2008 where Ai and I supported Tom when he won the International Free Diving Competition there which included him breath holding 5mins 30 seconds and doing three 50 meter free dives.

Take a look at these 3 photos. This is Ai filming yesterday and we
were at 18 meters...amazing, eh? To see her freediving is an absolute's an awesome sight.

Graham and Steve were the first to say that the best thing about the Similan Island trip was in us being able to watch Ai.

Ai is staying with us for a few days and then she's off to Koh Lanta but is not taking part in this year's International Competition. Instead she's off to the Maldives for a couple of weeks filming and then to the Bahamas in April to take part in a World Championship there..........we wish her the best of luck in that!!
Many people who see Ai in action ask me how can she do it......and the answer is the same as any athlete will give you.......lots and lots of very hard work, training, discipline and of course...TALENT!
Good Luck to Ai and Thank You for making our trip to the Similan Islands a very memorable one!!

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