Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hanli Prinsloo: "I am Water"

Hanli Prinsloo in her element

Photo: Roger Horrocks

When I saw Hanli diving for the first time, I was almost awestruck - I have never seen a human blending so gracefully with the liquid element. Hanli was gliding, floating, flowing in the water.

Have you ever dreamt about a diving angel? No? OK, but you have seen seals or dolphins, right? Well, then all you have to imagine now is a beautiful young woman swimming like a seal or a dolphin. THAT is Hanlin in the water - when she dives she IS water....

Only true mermaids can sleep on the bottom of the ocean....

Photo: Annelie Pompe

A few blogs ago I wrote that my South African friends of Blue Wilderness, Gail and Mark Addison, will introduce Shark Freediving courses in Umkomaas / Scottburgh. In all humility, that idea was mine. I told the Addisons last year that they should make 'Freediving with Sharks' one of their specialties. It was not hard to convince them; Mark is a freediver himself.

Freediving with sharks allows you to interact with these intelligent and responsive creatures in a way you will never experience as a scuba diver.

Hanli playing with one of the beautiful striped girls of Aliwal Shoal

Photo: Roger Horrocks

What I did not know then was: Who could teach scuba tourists the joys of freediving professionally in the shortest time possible? But that was not my problem. Gail and Mark would have to find an adequate person to run the courses. When I heard that they were lucky enough to engage Hanli Prinsloo, I felt like exclaiming: "Guys, you've got the best and most passionate freediving instructor in Africa, not just South Africa!!"

I have to tell you how I got to know Hanli. I was at the southern tip of South Africa toward the middle of March to freedive with white sharks, but we had the most adverse weather conditions imaginable: rough seas, cold winds, and a visibility that was worse than that of a German flooded gravel pit.

Apart from a brief and intense, and at the same time rather insignificant (well, sort of 'insignificant'...) encounter with a 4 m female white shark, it was an absolutely frustrating week in terms of diving. And I had come all the way from Cochabamba to see, and photograph, whities...... :-(

But as we in the Spanish speaking world say: "No hay bien que por mal no venga" (= There is not bad from which good doesn't come). So, no white sharks, however, I was fortunate to meet Hanli - and that was more than a mere compensation.

After my buddy Roger Horrocks introduced me to Hanli there was an immediate exchange of some basic stuff of the kind you find in the periodic table of elements - don't ask me which ones; all I can tell you is that the chemistry between us was excellent right away! Hanli is a sophisticated, spiritual woman with a truly infectious personality. She radiates a passion for whatever she does that comes from the depth of her soul.

Hanli Prinsloo

Photo: Self-Portait

Now it's my turn to introduce you to Hanli by way of letting her speak in her own words. I requested her to describe how she could make a competent freediver out of you in one day:

I really believe that everybody, whether they consider themselves aquatic or not, can be taught to freedive. It's in your head mainly, your body will follow.

In one or two days, one can significantly increase a person's knowledge about their body an their inherent apneic ability to such a degree, that they will achieve depths and times they never could've imagined.

I have people coming onto my one-day courses loudly proclaiming that they could never hold their breath for more than 30 sec, and by the end of one static session they are comfortably doing between 2 and 5 minutes.

You may never have been deeper than a two meter reef, but with the proper coaching, within a day you could dive to anywhere between 5 and 20 meters.

The human body is beautifully adapted for freediving, for breath-hold, for depth, and once you know this, you will dare to trust it to take you where you've never been before.

Hanli has a fantastic website that is worth reading from the beginning to the end. After going through the pages and the images you will know more about her - but wait until you meet Hanli in person, in Umkomaas, to let her coach you when you feel ready for the very best type of diving in the world: Freediving with tiger sharks!

PS: Click on the images to enlarge them.


Pentad said...

So COOL! I loved those first two images as well.

Wolf Leander said...

Thank you, Tamera!

Wanna join diving with tiger sharks? I am serious!


Wolf Leander said...

Thank you, Tamera!

Wanna join diving with tiger sharks? I am serious!


Mads Becker said...

Hi Hanli

Awesome pictures and text...

Take care and thanks for interesting and inspiring southafrican yoga, good judging and great enthusiasm in Nordic deep :)

Take care.

Mads Becker from Denmark