“Mermaid Slippers”… Why Do My Feet Cry?

“Mermaid Slippers”… Why Do My Feet Cry?


Congratulations! you passed your level 1 freediving course; you are now obsessed with freediving and can’t wait to improve your technique.

First step is freediving equipment and it’s time to buy your first pair of freediving fins, woohoo!


You might order online a pair of lovely long stiff plastic fins, that a nice chap on facebook recommended. No idea if they will fit, but you buy some socks and fin straps just in case the foot pocket is not quite right.

Familiar story for all the dozens of freedivers I know; so hang on, don’t go too mad now. I wish I knew then what I know now

Working full time as a freedive instructor for the past 2 years, sometimes we can clock up to 80 dives per day, chasing students up and down the line.
That is a whole lot of finning, somedays my ankles scream at me.
When I take my fins off at the waters edge, I crouch down into dorsi flexsion, ouch!
My left achilles was tight after every session. Whilst finning at the surface, my right knee cap constantly clicked and don’t even get me started on my tender calf muscles from hours of finning. If my limbs could talk, they would only manage a tear.


From teaching and studying pilates, I can’t help but worry about the knock on affect of the wear and tear of my feet, will I ruin my knees and hips as I get older?

So I investigate my body and start focusing more on mobility and strengthening for my ankles and feet, also carefully addressing my leg alignment and the execution of my kicking. My kicking looks good, but my god the burn on deep dives in my legs and feet.

Here is a little fin history: only when I passed my instructor course, did I allow my self to replace my plastic Cressi long fins (those lovely long stiff plastic fins you were considering) with brand spanking new carbon fins. But the blades were too stiff and the Pathos foot pocket was not designed for the lady foot, I had to wear socks and the foot pocket moved around as I finned, I think I even lost a toe nail at one point too.

This was the start of my problems, but those fins cost big bucks and I was determined get my money’s worth. Let’s be honest, no one gets into freedive instructing for the money.

Next, I happened upon a “donated” a pair of carbon fins for free, that sort of fit, I decided to wear them until they die, which they did. With the next few sets of fins; the foot pockets were either too tight, too loose or the blade was far too stiff.

I was resigned to the fact that I will only use these sorts of fins for safetying and teaching, so its ok, I figured `I would just continue working on my foot and leg exercises to compensate, maybe its just my body getting older?!


Fast forward to Alexey Molchonov coming to Apneista last April with the deep week training camp, this man is full- time deepest freediver in the world/part-time travelling salesman. It seems like everyone is sporting his CS1 custom foot pocket fins.

The custom foot pocket intrigues me, made to measure, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I bite the bullet and I spend the most money I ‘ve ever spent on freediving equipment, the best part of €500.

My new fins arrive after 6 weeks, ooohhh game changer. My right knee, now does not click when surface swimming. The foot pockets with the support arch and open heel are allowing for better foot and leg alignment. My fins do not touch each other through the midline, which I thought was due to a my knees rolling in slightly.

The blades are soft and the fin feels like an extension of my foot, “Mermaid slippers” my student called them. My leg extension feels long and parallel, there is no lactic acid build up in my legs after deep dives, most of all, my ankles do not ache!! I actually enjoyed a deep dive with these fins, who would believe it, and now I’m looking forward to doing more training sessions too.

In summary; you must look after your feet, to look after the rest of your body upwards, its all connected. If you dive a lot or participate in any other sports to that matter and something hurts, then your body is telling you something, investigate it before it becomes chronic.

I’m not suggesting only buy Molchanovs, there are many good models out now, but our bodies are not cookie cutter, try everything then ask for more.

But most importantly; I am not getting older, it was just my poorly fitting fins!


If you want to learn more about how to incorporate Pilates to improve your freediving technique and movement patterns contact Apneista for details about freediving courses.

Anna-marie Richardson
Freediving & Pilates instructor

Freediving champion Davide Carrera is in Amed, Bali

More cool stuff happening…

Wise-man of free-diving, ocean yogi and multiple national and world record-holder Davide Carrera is in Amed.

Breaking records for over 20 years, this gifted freediver has a wealth of knowledge which he is happy to share. All are welcome, free of charge, in Blue Earth village 6pm thursday 14th.

You dont have to be a freediver or a yogi, just curious.. Come and meet a water jedi…

Check out his profile here.http://www.davidecarrera.com/

The last week has been full of cool stuff, yoga, meditation and mind/body  workshops, pub quizes, SUP and freediving adventures… And all free. (with any donations going to the evacuees)

We want to give a big thanks to all of those have been sharing their skills, time and energy.

You know who you are👍


Is Amed safe?

Is Amed safe?

Again today the Volcano is silent, and no steam or ash is spewing.

The sun is shining and the water is flat, but there are almost no tourists. Just some intrepid travelllers and volunteers helping out with camps.

There are many opinions online regarding the safety of tourists coming to Amed, some working from tabloid sources, such as the express.uk. (blatant fear-mongering)

According to the Volcanologist Devy Kamil Syahbana from Indonesia’s volcanology center, volcanologists are working on a model that predicts a potential eruption VEI 3 compared to one of 5 in 63. (VEI= Volcanic explosivity index)Doctor Syahbana is at the Rendang post working on this every day. There are other possible projection models but so far none of them in Bali are predicting a larger eruption than 63.

To clarify, Amed was considered safe in 63, according to people who lived through it and are quite calm at the moment. ’63 was a VEI 5 eruption and the present potential is projected on the ground as being VEI 3.
No-one is pretending that a large eruption will be pretty, including outside of the redzone. There might be significant ashfall and definitely more evacuees, at least. That said we have made a decision to stay open based on various factors-

  • Talking to people who lived through the 1963 eruption, they had minimal ash in Amed area.
  • Looking at the topography of the land between the Amed coast and mount Agung, protecting us from lava and pyroclastic flows.
  • Taking into account prevailing winds in this area, winds coming due east from Agung are very rare.
  • Listening to the voices of the experts, none of whom are predicting and eruption as big as 63.

That said, if the eruption happens there is a small chance the road around Tulamben and Amlapura will be blocked, in this situation the only course of action is to wait till they are cleared or for evacuation by sea. For this reason we don’t recommend package tourists or people on a very tight schedule in and out of Bali.

We invite independent travellers to visit this beautiful area at this historic moment, when the Holy mountain is waking up. We are still freediving and are now offering free yoga and mind/body workshops.

The effects of scaremongering

The effects of scaremongering

The effects of scaremongering is a mass exodus of tourists from the Amed area, (amongst other areas) and an overall drop in tourist numbers coming to Bali.

Historically, Amed is a very poor area. In recent times it had begun to catch up economically with other areas in Bali. Many locals stopped migrating South and developed their own tourist industry.

This has been mostly financed by credit from banks. If Amed turns into a ghost town, many of these businesses will close with huge loss of livelihood and even the family land (offered as security).

There are reports that some hotels and drivers in other areas of Bali are telling guests that Amed is closed and unsafe. This is untrue.

The local authorities are monitoring the situation and following government guidelines. Amed is in the safe zone and has NOT been evacuated, the roads are not closed to and from Amed, only the evacuated zones are off limits to the public.

Balinese have been displaced from the their homes closer to Gunung Agung and the local communities are doing their best to prepare for the worst and help those in need. Many businesses are closing due to lack of guests but many are open and desperate not to let go of staff, so please correct any disinformation you hear and share this post with anyone with an interest in Amed.

Amed is beautiful, come and check it out, you can get involved with the evacuee camps and help those who are most affected by this powerful natural phenomena. Just by being here you are supporting the local economy which depends now on low impact tourism.

Be Here Now: Cancer, Samadhi and Freediving

Be Here Now: Cancer, Samadhi and Freediving

I’m old. I have cancer. I’m a yogi. And I just learned to freedive.

I just threw in the old thing because last night I learned that I’m the oldest person to complete two levels of training at Apneista. But age is just a number, so we’ll let that one go.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I was diagnosed with cancer. In the process of working that up, a second, more dangerous cancer was found. I did a full year of treatment, the usual stuff you, your friends, or your family have endured: surgery, chemotherapy. radiation. Now I’m a year into recovery, and feeling good; appreciating the gift of every day, every moment.


Yoga helped save my life. Even when I was too weak to do asana, the physical practice, I would still do other forms of yoga. Breathing practices, pranayama, helped muster and balance my energy. I set intentions, sankalpas, to guide me on my path. I did yoga nidra, sometimes called yogic sleep, for deep relaxation and rest. Every day my meditation brought me to samadhi, a place where my mind was still, free from the past or future. That carried on into my days. As Alan Watts said, I was able to “Be Here Now”, enjoying every moment no matter the circumstance.

After a year of essentially being house-bound during treatment, I started thinking about mixing things up a bit. My friend Ashley said it was a no-brainer since I loved both the ocean and yoga: come to Bali, specifically come to Amed where she taught freediving at Apneista. I’m a scuba diver since way back and I brought my scuba gear, but Ash offered a chance to sample freediving too. One dive and I never looked back.


The connections between freediving and yoga practices were emphasized during training; I’m very comfortable in the water so it all seemed natural to me, though I had problems equalizing my ears. As I am still recovering from treatment I am mildly anemic. Freediving causes the release of red blood cells as part of the mammalian dive response, and I was feeling great.

The real shift was in my mind. Freediving brought me to the same places that helped me so much with cancer. The shared emphasis on breath was natural. I learned to create an intention for each dive, perhaps to move slowly conserving energy, or maybe just enjoy the view. Relaxation was paramount, and I would sometimes find myself repeating a mantra, moving back into meditation while in the water.

Each dive brought me into the present moment, never mulling over how I could have prevented my illness, or worrying about what may lie ahead for me and my cancer. Underwater I was totally in the present moment, knowing myself, the one pointed mind. I’d look up through the blue water toward the light of the sun, a timeless view. Like meditation, freediving brought me to samadhi.

— Tom —

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