Sunday, 8 October 2017

Helena Bourdillon - Two days in Selsey

On Friday 15th September, we announced the launch of Mulberry Freedivers with two events led by Helena Bourdillon.  

Helena is a member of the GB 2017 Freediving Team and has recently returned from competing in the AIDA Individual World Championships in Roatan. Mulberry Divers were delighted to be able to help with her sponsorship for this event as, like many non-Olympic sports, the athletes competing receive no funding for training or taking part. Helena used a crowd funding site to raise the money needed to represent her country.

The presentation, held at Selsey Town Hall, was titled “Go Deep: My Journey into Freediving”. Helena explained how she began in the sport, what it has meant to her and the recent World Championships. From her humble beginnings as a two-metre diver and with just a few years of dedicated training Helena achieved three white cards, in three disciplines. The official table ranked her 5th out of the 31 female competitors.

What is a White card? It is a clean dive – you reach the depth that you announced, retrieve a tag to prove it and complete the surface protocol on return to show you are in control. This being the sport of APNEA it is all done on a single breath of air.
The focus of the talk however, was a frank and honest account of what Freediving has meant to Helena. A long-term sufferer of severe depression and mental illness, Helena was kind enough to tell us how the sport has helped saved her life. From a dark place where she could not imagine being alive any longer to representing her country.

Freediving has allowed her to find a peace and acceptance of herself that she never knew before. It has built her confidence and trust in herself. The relaxation breathing and meditation, an integral part of the sport, has led Helena to a balance that she can take with her when on land helping to heal! The dark is now behind her. The overall message of the talk was that she wants to show other sufferers there is hope; there is a future and you can achieve – so dream. It is an important message and Helena actively seeks to talk and help others through her experience. This was the first talk Helena has given but it will not be the last, having enjoyed the experience she will continue to spread the message when home from training. 

The Relaxation Breathing was held on Saturday lunchtime at the Selsey Centre. Helena began by explaining to the class that as adults we tend to forget how to breathe correctly. The stress of everyday life gets in the way; but we should remember that “we can go three weeks without food, three days without water but only three minutes without air”. When we do not breathe with our diaphragm then we cannot fully benefit from the oxygenated blood that every inhale brings. We were shown some exercises to start using the diaphragm to breathe and then a guided relaxation body scan exercise.

I must say it was very relaxing and enlightening. We started by counting our normal breaths – do not change them but just count how many in a minute. The number varied in the class from 9 to 20 a minute…time for most of us to slow down! Learning how the body moves when breathing correctly, teaches you what to look out for. Correctly placing your hands to feel the motion and see how well you are doing, some of these muscles have not moved in a long time! The guided relaxation body scan was so relaxing than I could hear the gentle sounds of snoring as several people drifted off to sleep. I was awake, but barely there; just able to hear Helena on the edge of my consciousness talking me though the steps. I can recommend it as a way to unwind and relax at any time.
The time before the snores.

The class was very popular and we will run some more over the next couple of months. Helena has promised to come back in January to run an advanced class and more details of both events will follow soon. 

It was a great couple of days and we must say thank you to Helena for her time, dedication, enthusiasm and honesty. To find out more about Freediving or how relaxation breathing could help you contact  Mulberry Freedivers.