Despite having probably the biggest smile in freediving, Colombian Sofía Gómez Uribe also has a more serious side as a national, continental and world record-breaking athlete.

Sofia began fin-swimming at the age of ten, and by the age of 19, she was winning competitions in the sport. Two years later she discovered freediving.

Sofia quite naturally began breaking freediving national records for Colombia in the pool. With her fin-swimming background, and since she lived at an altitude of 1500m in Medellin, Colombia, pool training was a natural progression. Breaking her first National Record in 2010 – 89m Dynamic No-Fins (DNF) – Sofia went on to take the top places in Pan American freediving competitions in the indoor disciplines.

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Sofia’s first depth competition, the Caribbean Cup in Roatan in 2013, saw her take second place and get national records in all the depth disciplines. She furthered all these records in the same competition in the following year, taking them further again in 2015 in Vertical Blue.

Now being coached by Johnny Sunnex, Sofia began to take not only the Colombian, but the South American records, gaining 4th place in the World ranking in 2015, and then in 2016 Sofia won gold in the most prestigious freediving competition, Vertical Blue; then just weeks later, she did the same in the Caribbean Cup.

However, Sofia dreamt of a World Record, and she was able to achieve this just a year later in 2017. In an event organized by Jonathan Sunnex, Sofia took the World Record in bi-fins (CMAS) not just once but twice, taking the record to 83m, then 84m in July of that year.

With two world records to her name in bi-fins, and multiple National and Continental records in both pool and depth, Sofia is a strong freediver across all disciplines. In addition to this, Sofia is a Civil Engineer, and also works as a model, as well as training in Dominica, where she is based with her coach and partner, athlete, safety professional and competition organizer Jonathan Sunnex.

Read on to discover some of Sofia’s methods to make her such a strong athlete.

Sofia mid-stroke (photo © Daan Verhoeven)

DeeperBlue.com: What continues to inspire your freediving?

Sofía Gómez Uribe: I think my inspiration is the desire of going deeper and redefining my own limits.

DB: Who do you most admire in the freediving world?

SGU: That’s a hard question. But I would say I really admire Sayuri [Kinoshita, Japan]; she represents for me what a great freediver is, you always see her come out of a dive with a smile on her face, she makes it look so easy.

DB: What is/are your favorite place/s to freedive?

SGU: I haven’t been to many places, to be honest, but the more I explore, the more I like Dominica.

DB: Can you tell us about any exciting locations that you would you love to freedive?

SGU: I would Love to freedive in Norway with orcas, and in Tonga with humpbacks! Also, I would die to go to the Galapagos!

DB: What would be your best piece of training advice for beginner/intermediate freedivers?

SGU: To learn to listen to their body and what it wants to tell them. To take it easy; it is not about how deep you can go but how you get there. This is not a race against anyone, you need to learn all the little things and get them right before trying to go deep.

DB: Top freediving athletes favor a variety of cross-training methods. What is your preferred form of dry training and why?

SGU: I really like going to the gym and doing anaerobic training. I like lifting weights because I like feeling strong and it also makes me think of something different. Also cross fit, although Johnny (Sunnex) doesn’t like it because it is easy to have an injury while doing it…

Alessia Zecchini & Sofia Gomez Uribe. Photo by Alex St Jean

DB: What is your pre-dive preference: breakfast or fasting?

SGU: Breakfast, oats for breakfast. I have to say oatmeal is my least favorite thing to eat in the whole world, so it is just something I have to do, but I do not enjoy it!

DB: What general nutritional principles do you follow?

SGU: Eat what is good for you, lots of veggies and fruits, a lot of fiber and also lots of carbs before diving, gotta give those muscles lots of energy.

DB: What important life-lessons has freediving given you?

SGU: To be patient. You don’t always get what you want. And also to never give up, sometimes things can get frustrating and hard but if you keep working for what you want, you’ll achieve it.

DB: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

SGU: Hard question! But I want to keep training and competing and going deep.

DB: Can you describe your most memorable or significant dive?

SGU: My 96m CWT [constant weight, with a monofin] last year at the WC. I’d been struggling with equalizing for a year and it looked like I wasn’t going anywhere with my CWT. But Johnny and I gave that comp a very different approach and we just focused on enjoying every dive.

It meant a lot to me because it showed me that I could go deeper. I was super happy during the whole dive, the happiest dive I’ve done.

DB: Which of your achievements are you most proud of, and why?

SGU: I think becoming a recognized athlete in Colombia and being able to show this beautiful sport to the whole country is something I’m very proud of.

Sofia Gomez Uribe. Photo by Kalindi Wijsmuller