Delve into the blue with famous Russian freediving champion and National Geographic underwater photographer Viktor lyagushkin as he reveals his passion for the ocean. (Text: Natalia Avseenko. Photo: Viktor Lyagushkin)
I WON THE TITLE of World Champion in 2006 and then again in 2008, the latter being memorable, having set a world record in the most difficult, but purest freediving discipline: Constant Weight No Fins. At the time that record was set, I had about 50 percent of my regular vital lung capacity due to an injury, which I sustained six months prior. The episode proved that freediving is more about the mental aspect rather than the physiological one.
I loved the water from childhood and it’s no wonder I eventually became a competitive swimmer, competing at an international level. I was a specialist in breast-stroke, so it must be why my favourite discipline is diving with having no fins. When I retired from competitive swimming, I tried scuba diving and fell in love with it. I remember it was an incredible moment to realise that you can “walk” and “breathe” underwater and to see the beauty of marine life… The ocean is an incredible world, which is so close to us and yet we know so little about it!
After 12 years of scuba diving, I became a freed-iver, for reasons unlike many others. You see, my scuba equipment was stolen. Then I thought, what a chance to start a new kind of communication with the water having no tanks and heavy equipment!
So, in a no choice situation, I had to try freediving and after the first week of a deep diving session, I realised that was the moment when I decided to dedicate myself to freediving – it was a moment experienced with complete harmony and calmness… At a depth of 42 metres, there were no external sounds, I couldn’t hear my breathing, my heart rate was very slow and there were no thoughts in my mind – it all became sharp and clear…