Thursday, 18 January 2018

Oxygen by William Trubridge

I now knew that freediving was my passion and my path. I relished the idea of dedicating myself to it, of giving over every aspect of myself in the quest to redefine human aquatic limits.

Be warned – reading this memoir will make you unconsciously hold your breath as you imagine diving to depths of 100-plus metres on a single breath of air.

William Trubridge is a multi world-record holding freediver and he is the current world champion – his deepest dive to date is a staggering 102 metres without the aid of flippers.

The reader gets the feeling this man should have been born with gills; such is his affinity with the ocean. William literally grew up on the ocean; leaving his birthplace of England with his parents and brother when he was a baby, and sailing around the world for most of his childhood before the family settled in Hawke’s Bay.

Trubridge seems to have just the right temperament for an elite sportsperson; single-minded, passionate, dedicated and driven to improving his performance. William practices yoga and has used yogic breathing techniques to his advantage whilst free diving. His relationship with the underwater world seems almost spiritual at times.

Free divers can experience alarming (certainly to me – one can only sympathise with his poor mother!) side-effects from lack of oxygen. Called ‘The Samba’ within the sport, divers sometimes experience involuntary shaking and jerking upon reaching the surface of the water. Briefly losing consciousness when surfacing is sometimes another ill-effect; although ‘safety divers’ are present. Trubridge describes the tragic death of a fellow diver who did not regain consciousness and the effects on himself and the free diving community.

I would highly recommend anyone reading Oxygen look up YouTube videos (including a piece by the American 60 Minutes television programme) of some of William’s dives. Although he describes his dives in the book in great detail, the video footage is amazing and gives you a real appreciation of the skill and dangers involved in this sport.

Oxygen is an in-depth and interesting memoir about an elite sportsperson and his life.

Posted by Katrina

Catalogue link: Oxygen

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