Inspired by that Netflix doccie of one man and his cephalopod? Want to channel your inner Luc Besson? Perhaps you’re simply seduced by the silence beneath the waves. Whichever it is, Hanli Prinsloo has you covered. Prinsloo is a record-breaking free diver (she once held all six South African records simultaneously) who today spends her energy as an ocean activist — look up her I Am Water foundation — and free-diving instructor.
Though Prinsloo spends most of her time abroad, teaching and leading free-diving expeditions, lockdown has kept her close to home in Cape Town. That’s good news for surfers, free divers, and the ocean-curious looking to up their game at being underwater.
“With my free-diving courses I really want to see the ocean become a place that’s more accessible for those who have felt some kind of barrier in the past,” explains Prinsloo. She is particularly passionate about getting more women in the water with her one-day Water Women Ocean Confidence Workshop.
“It’s about creating a space where women can grow their confidence in the water, learning from me, and from each other,” she says. The course begins with yoga and breathwork sessions focused on lung expansion and breath-holding, before a rigorous pool training session. “Then we get in the ocean and do free-diving training, where the focus is on equalising and being relaxed in the ocean, but also ecosystem knowledge around the kelp forest,” says Prinsloo.
For those wanting to, ahem, go deeper into the sport of free diving, Prinsloo and her husband, Peter Marshall also run two-and-a-half-day Free-diving Exploration courses suitable for both beginners and proficient divers. “Along with focusing on the skills and knowledge of free diving, this course is your ticket to the Cape’s kelp forest, as we share the best shore-entry dive sites all along the southern peninsula,” says Prinsloo.
And no, before you ask, life-changing octopus encounters are not included. “So many people have become interested thanks to My Octopus Teacher,” laughs Prinsloo. “It has certainly piqued people’s interest in the kelp forest, lighting a little fire. But, more importantly, lockdown has made people realise how important these wild spaces are. Now we need to teach people how to explore them.”
FREE-DIVING EXPLORATION COURSE:
15-17 December 2020, 5-7 January 2021
WATER WOMEN OCEAN CONFIDENCE WORKSHOPS:
20 December 2020, 9 January 2021
• From the December edition of Wanted, 2020.