Freediving 2003: Perry Gladstone

Just one year ago I was a member of the Canadian national freedive team determined to develop my skills as a competitor. Then, following a rather severe squeeze, a highly revered lung expert well-versed in freediving told me never to dive again, at risk of death. Scary words coming from someone who is in a position to offer such advice. Although initially the warning had its intended impact I was and remain unable to sustain a vision of myself that does not include being chosenly submerged. My mother, on the other hand, feels differently.

For ten months I stayed relatively dry and certainly shallow (as my last girlfriend will surely attest), letting my body heal and rejuvenate. Meanwhile, I worked on advancing my judging career and did my best to envision a healthy, relatively low-risk future with the love of my life for, as you surely know, the ocean cannot be denied.

Amazingly, it was during this time that I experienced some of the most meaningful underwater moments of my life. Swimming with ‘Lefty’, a Manta Ray colleague of Carlos Eyles who came to greet me along the shelf where Kona-Kailua, Hawaii drops off into a thousand fathoms. Dancing with a magnificent sea turtle in the shallow waters of Honanau Bay. Witnessing life return to a friend momentarily past his time, a rescue and miracle combined. And the elation of fear conquered and majesty revealed in the underwater caves of Mochima Marine park, Venezuela.

Looking back at the year that just was I can honestly say I am as passionate as ever about my underwater future and greatful for this incredibly rewarding new direction. Of course there are bumps along the way and, as it should be, I humbly accept the lessons they reveal.

I can only imagine what wonders I will see in the year ahead.