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Guest Article - Freediving The Last Paradise - Helena Bourdillon

So this year’s training season started in a very gentle fashion, with an incredible natural backdrop away from any thoughts of the Covid-19 virus.

I travelled to Raja Ampat in Indonesia to assist my friend and training buddy Annelie Pompe with a 10-day intermediate level freediving course. Nine lovely students, Annelie and I got to discover the magical waters around Kri Island, marvelling at the pristine coral reefs rich in marine life.

From enchanting Pygmy Seahorses and vividly coloured soft corals to reef sharks swimming around the stilts of our bungalows, turtles galore and the majesty of reef mantas, it really isn’t hard to see why Raja Ampat is called the Last Paradise.

After having said goodbye to the students we travelled on to Bali, to a little fishing village called Tulamben at the base of Mount Agung, one of Bali’s active volcanos. Planning to be here for three weeks, we did a week of training for ourselves using the facilities at Apnea Bali Freediving School.

As it is the beginning of the season my training has consisted of lots of slow dives, very gradually getting deeper, thus allowing my body to adapt to pressure again. It has been going swimmingly!

On Sunday evening we met up with our new students who are doing a 5-day beginner course. Based in the lovely Bali Dive Resort with enough depth on the doorstep and numerous snorkelling sites for fun dives in the afternoons, it is perfect.

However, the excitement of introducing new students to the wonders of freediving has become overshadowed by the global pandemic.

At first, I kept a vague eye on how things where changing, soon followed by me scouring the news for the latest update which has, inevitably, lead to heightened anxiety and stress.

We are receiving daily messages and calls from loved ones and check the government and flight information on a regular basis.

We are committed to finishing the course for our students unless of course the government guidance changes at which point we would obviously make our way back as speedily as possible with the help of the travel agency who arranged the trip and the courses.

Once the current course finishes, we have a final week in Tulamben which we had allocated for our training and hope to proceed with that as planned.

Yes, I am concerned about the journey home. Here we are in very peaceful surroundings and all taking care to follow the health guidelines but the moment we leave our secluded bubble here and head to Denpasar airport, we will have far less control over the situation.

I have an expectation of catching Covid-19 and think it will most likely be whilst travelling. I will take as many precautions as possible to prevent it and when I return to the UK I will keep my distance from my family and society so as not to put them at risk.

It is a very anxious and fear-driven time and I am practising calm healthy breathing to prevent myself from getting swept along with the panic.

We at obo have an exciting series of Online Wellbeing Workshops coming up where we will be collaborating with Helena and other experts in their field (and you!) to share insights and advice as to how we can all employ some of the lesser-known techniques to improve our physical and mental health.

Details coming soon. Watch this space!

You can email us at or join our mailing list for direct details.


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