Fletch and I decided to take a free diving course. That means ditching all that heavy bulky scuba gear and diving on a breath of air. (Don't get me wrong, I still love scuba, but you've got to admit it's pretty cool to be able to ditch the gear).

It's a lot like yoga, mind over matter and mostly about the breath control. Very relaxing.

Our instructor was this hunky Australian dude covered in tribal tats and piercings. He had a very hyper personality but a simultaneously zen-like demeanor, talking a mile a minute about how cool freediving is one moment, and calmly leading us through breathing exercises the next.

You learn how to compartmentalize air, how to compress it as you fill your body on an inhale, and how to relax yourself, so as not to burn through oxygen any quicker than necessary.

Saying I was apprehensive at first would be an understatement. Breathing is a natural reflex that keeps us alive. Voluntarily turning that off is terrifying. It's one thing to hold your breath a few seconds until you feel the urge to breath, but the truth is that urge is your brain tricking you. You learn how to fill your body with enough oxygen to last a good long while without breathing, so fighting past that urge is the scary part. Plunging down to the depths of the ocean, and then suddenly having your brain trick you into thinking that you absolutely must have air is a lot to fight through mentally.

The first day of our class, our goal was set at 12 meters (40 feet). We learned two ways to dive, constant weight, where you kick from your hips to propel yourself down, and free immersion, where you use your arms to pull yourself headfirst down the line. The minutes before diving are spent bobbling lifelessly at the surface like a buoy, concentrating only on breathing, and inhaling all the oxygen your body needs. One final breath of air and then the plunge below the surface, calm and relaxed, at least that's what's supposed to happen when you learn how to ignore your brain screaming at you to turn around and go drink that delicious, sweet air at the surface.

The first day of our class, our goal was 12 meters. I reached it once by accident, and after that consistently found a roadblock at 10 meters. The more I fought to pass that barricade, the more frustrated and exhausted I became. Despite my best efforts, I could not make it past 10 meters.

I spent the rest of the day mentally prepping myself for the next days class when our goal would be increased to 20 meters, trying to come to terms with the fact that I just couldn't make it. I would try my best, yes, but after that first day, my hopes weren't too high.

Our first dive the next day was just a warm up dive, don't push yourself too low, just dive down, turn around, and come back up. The second was the same. Unlike the previous day, I never ducked my face underwater during surface intervals to watch Natalie and Fletch reach the bottom of the line. Too much pressure. Just sit on the buoy and relax. Mind over matter. Breathe. By the third dive, our instructor, Tobin, waved a bright green tie in front of me, and told me to wait a moment while he tied it on the line. A moment later he reappeared and told me to go as far as the green tie. I relaxed on the surface, took my twelve slow, deep breathes of air, and calmly swam headfirst, straight down the line until I saw the green marker appear. Not wanting to linger a moment longer, I swam back up. Tobin looked at me with a huge grin and told me I'd made it 13 meters, farther than our goal yesterday. Easy peasy.

Back at the surface buoy while Natalie took her turn, Fletch let me know that I was still using as scuba kick. I hadn't even noticed. When you're having a constant mental battle with your brain over whether you need air or not, there's not room to think about much else such as how you are kicking, but freediving kicks come from the hip with a straight leg, unlike in scuba diving where there is a more relaxed knee involved.

By the forth dive I was psyched and ready to go. Relax at the surface, twelve lungfulls of air, and dive. Mental note to use proper kick technique, calm, peacefull, stay in the moment, this moment I don't need air. There's the green marker, little further, there's the thermocline, keep going, omg that's the weight belt! 20 meters!!! Relax, turn around, swim to the surface. Done. I did it. 66 feet on a single breath. That's considered a deep dive in scuba. The post euphoria is amazing.