One of the great things about being at university is having access to so many different events. One of my favourite talks that I have attended at Plymouth University was by Jim Lawless, the first British person to free dive to 100m. Jim was invited to hold a talk by the Plymouth Sound Free-diving Group and it was excellent. Jim works as a motivational speaker, so naturally he was very good at talking to an audience. Yet, for him to speak about something that he was so passionate about, and something that I personally found so interesting, was inspiring.
Jim told us his life story, and it is quite an impressive one. Early on in his life he had no connection to the sea. He remembered watching TV shows about the seas, such as the programmes produced by Jacques Cousteau, but like a lot of people Jim felt very detached from this strange world. Jim did very well for himself and achieved a lot for his family, he completed a law degree and managed to get a job as a lawyer. Surprise, surprise he hated it. Yes, he had plenty of money, but hating your job will never make you happy.
One day Jim and his friend decided that they’d had enough and decided to do something about it. Luckily with the wage of a lawyer, ‘doing something about it’ meant a trip to sunny tropical climbs. Whilst there Jim decided to give free diving a try and he has never looked back. In just one week, he was diving to 38m, and eight months later Jim broke the freediving world record and dived to 101m on one breathe, and most importantly returned safely again.
Jim broke it down into four main stages:
2) Mental skills
3) Pressure management
4) Breathe hold
Safety is crucial when free diving, and trust in your team mates is just as essential. When Jim dives deep he has a buddy that meets him on the way back up at 30m to check that he is still conscious. The timing for this has to be perfect.
The mental skills Jim has developed are astounding to me. He played us the piece of music he listens to and it was simply enchanting. Jim explained how he makes sure to listen to it non-stop, so that it is engrained into his memory. When he dives he plays it through in his head to keep himself relaxed, and to ensure that he does not panic during the dive. This is really quite an achievement, as he pointed out, at 100m depth there isn’t another human anywhere nearby. He is quite alone.
Jim’s story is certainly an inspirational one, he has had a wonderful approach to life. Nothing gets started in life until you get up from the sofa. He’s right in what he says, that the day something happens is the day we decide to get up and do it.