As you may well know, I have done several articles on Joy Hibbs. Joy conquered her fear of water to become a freediver. Her husband, Kerian, is a freediver and was very instrumental in helping Joy work through her fear. Anyone who has had a situation like this knows that to have someone to help you is fantastic – but that really, the courage to conquer fear comes from within you.
Having come so far, Joy posted this comment the other day and I feel it is worth putting in as an article otherwise many people out there won’t see it… and it is worth reading.
“I thought I would let you know what happened in the pool this week! Kerian and I were at the “deep end” of the pool. I am still not entirely comfortable in this end of the pool – the shallowest end is 1.5m and it drops to 3.5m at the other end. we usually train in the shallow end which starts at 1.1m and drops to 1.5m We had been at the pool for around and hour, and were just wrapping up, I headed off to the end of the pool underwater, and one goggle started to fill up with water – this was fine, I’m getting used to this happening, and I just closed that eye and carried on. Then – as I hit the dive well ( where it drops to 3.5m ) I descended down a bit, just as the other goggle filled up with water – my reaction, was to close my eye – that meant both of them were closed, and I was well under the surface. I started to panic, was “doggy paddling” to the surface, it was only a couple of metres to the surface, but it felt like I was never going to get there. By time I did hit the surface I was disorientated, very very shaken, and really upset, I ripped my goggles off and noseclip and was ready to fling myself up out of the water, when Kerian, who had see everything unravel said to me, “its ok just breathe” – I hung on to the side of the pool, replayed what had happened, and kept telling myself ” I wont let this affect my freediving!!” After I had calmed down, Kerian took me down a couple of metres, and I practiced coming to the surface with my eyes closed, just to re-assure myself that I was ok the whole time. The following day we arrived at the pool, the usual routine unfolded, get the fin on, slide into the water, put goggles on, noseclip, and my ritualistic dunking of my face – but this time, as I bent over to put my face in the water, I stopped, just shy of the water. I stood back up and thought ” that was weird” went to do it again, and same thing, I couldn’t put my face in the water – I wanted to, but something in the back of my brain was not going to make it easy. I stood back up, splashed water on my face, took a few deep slow breaths, then started to blow out as I put my face back in. This has been one technique that I used at the start. By breathing out, you don’t have the feeling of being tense, and its also something we do instinctively when you relax.
One thing about fear, is that sometimes, like mine, it can be an irrational fear – if you can recognise that and put things in place to ensure that any irrationality that comes up can be dealt with, you will find it easier to face that fear.”
For people who have never experienced that sort of fear … what Joy is going through must be hard to understand. I know nothing of the level she is experiencing, but I have to admit to a ridiculous fear of bugs, beetles and frogs. A complete paranoia. Totally irrational I know – and, even more embarressing, I was born in Africa. How could I POSSIBLY be scared of bugs and beetles? But I am. And I cannot control it. So I admire Joy tremendously for challenging her fear. I skirt around mine.