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Freedivers’ portraits

The sport of freediving is starting to gain momentum in Romania, driven by a small, but quite active community, behind which Sergiu Şerban and Alex Russu have laid a great deal of effort, conviction and dedication. AIDA Romania, the local branch of the most known international freediving organization, was founded in 2012, the same year in which the first Romanian attendance as a team took place at the World Championships in Nice.

Following, we present a series of freedivers’ portraits, freedivers who practice the sport and are active supporters of the freediving community, and who make a life enriching passion out of apnea diving.

Adriana Bantu, freediver

She is 29 years old, she’s from Bucharest and since four years ago she lives in Cyprus. It’s been nearly two years since she started practicing freediving, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, in Cyprus. “Freediving helps me relax my mind and body, helps me know myself better and also the limits my body can withstand. It is the perfect combination between sport and relaxation,” Adriana explains.

She participated in the 2011 AIDA Depth Games, which took place in Limassol, Cyprus, and where she placed first in the female Constant Weight (CWT) category. In September 2012 she took part in the 2012 AIDA Freediving World Team Championships, in France, Nice, where, together with Sergiu Şerban and Alexandru Russu, she represented the Romanian team. Here, Ada established two new female national records: 30m CWT and 75m DYN. The most recent attendance for Ada was in the middle of October at the AIDA Cyprus Depth Games 2012, in Limassol, where she placed first once again with a new Romanian national record – 34m CWT.

She will continue to practice freediving as a hobby and she will dive “as much as I’ll feel secure and relaxed. Usually, after I feel comfortable in a specific depth, I’m trying to go 1-2 meters deeper, and so on. In freediving I prefer to take small steps and be safe”.

Sabin Bidian, freediver

He’s 32 years old and originally he’s from Timişoara. He started freediving one year ago and believes that through it he gains “a sort of freedom that you can’t get somewhere else and the possibility of exploring the underwater world”. He will continue to practice this sport, “only when my friends are very insistent to dive:)”.

Adrian Lică, freediver

He’s 37 years old, he comes from Bucharest and has already accumulated a rich freediving experience under his belt: “I first started diving 5 years ago with SCUBA equipment and I attended a few courses and got a few certifications, so this is how I came in contact with Romania’s diving community.

In the beginning of 2010 a group of people interested in freediving started to gather up. Sergiu was the catalyst. At around the same time the first courses were held and the ARDA association was founded; it was then when I truly started to practice freediving, because I was splashing around in the water at 3-4 meters since I was 10,” Adrian explained to us.

When asked what he gains by practicing freediving he says that he gains a lot, but, if he should resume to a single “thing” he says that is Relaxation, because “you can’t practice freediving if you are physically and mentally tensed; you have to effortlessly float through the water, not fight it, and, for this, you need to relax your mind and then your body.

He will continue practicing freediving every time he will get a chance. “The underwater world is fascinating and there are so many beautiful places to explore and so many things to see. I like both the recreational side of it with «strolls» along reefs and colored fish and the sport side of it where I can find out where my limits lay and train to surpass them”, explained Adrian.

Bogdan Mitoc, freediver

He’s 36 years old, coming from Vâlcea county and “naturalized” to Bucharest for over ten years. Since three years ago he practices apnea diving “in an organized and «methodical» fashion”. “Freediving started to draw me in through offering me the key to another dimension, an interior one. When you freedive you feel truly free,” Bogdan explains his attraction to freediving.

He trains in the pool in Bucharest, while the depth disciplines he practices either at the Black Sea or “in our outings with the boys at the Red Sea”, as he told us. “I hope to also teach my children to freedive, probably I will practice freediving until my age and health will allow it. Once you’ve descended beyond a certain depth it’s not likely that you’ll soon forget that experience, it takes just a second to fundamentally change you, there are moments when you feel that the mental and physical barriers are surpassed and you begin to redefine yourself.

Mihai Vigariu, freediver

He’s 28 years old, originally from Craiova, but has been living in Bucharest for almost ten years. Even though it’s perhaps unexpected from a computer developer, he describes with emotion what his experience when freediving means for him: “Sudden joy. There’s a state when your entire body smiles, when you meet different underwater creatures, and when simply, it just feels you are one with the sea. It’s sublime to be able to swim together with huge schools of fish, or to keep pace with a turtle; not to mention that if you have the chance of seeing a few dolphins pass you by, and accept you into their gang, you’re instantly hypnotized, and your whole being vibrates at the beauty of these mammals.” In other words, for him freediving means relaxation, “primarily, I just come closer to myself, I know it sounds strange, but this is what happens. There’s also a slogan in the diver’s world: «The scuba diver dives to look around, the freediver dives to look inside».

He took part in different competitions held by Freediving Romania, “which had the purpose of placing us in the role of attending a real competition, to feel what it means to keep in chess your emotions, to face any thought that passes through your head, and the final aim to be completely relaxed.

He works on equalization techniques, to improve his swimming technique and “the most important for me, to succeed in reaching relaxation states as deep and long as possible. I prefer the recreational side, but in the future, depending on my results, I reserve the choice to take part in a competition.

The most recent event in which the Romanian freedivers have taken part was the Sofia Freediving Cup 2012 in Bulgaria, on the 17th and 18th of November 2012. Our team comprised six athletes: Ilhan Baobec, Adrian Lică, Bogdan Miţoc, Sergiu Şerban, Traian Văduva, Mihai Vigariu. On this occasion Adrian Lică established a new male national record with 107m DYN (Dynamic with Fins).

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