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05th Aug 2019

‘I’m gonna take the reins back on my life’ Claire Walsh on the art of freediving

Lorna Lawless

An inspiration.

Claire Walsh (36) will be representing Ireland at the freediving world championships later this year.

She has been training since last November for this competition, leaving what she once knew behind and pushing herself to the limit – both physically and emotionally.

Claire decided to take the jump by leaving her full-time job last year, and pursuing her dream of competing in the world championships.

“The security of a full time job is hard to leave behind,” she says. “All I could see was people getting engaged and getting houses.

“They’re all doing life different. It can be somewhat demotivating.

“I decided, you know what? I’m gonna take the reins back on my life.”

Claire is training in Dahab, Egypt at the moment because she can’t train at home. This is, naturally, a full-time commitment.

In 2017, she spent a full year training. She loved it but couldn’t commit. In November 2018, her mental health and physical health wasn’t at its best, and Claire says she needed an aim to keep her motivated.

“I physically wasn’t in great shape, or mentally. I think I needed a boot-camp for my morale,” she says.

Freediving was a way for Claire to redirect her life, and move towards her dream.

“Freediving helps me slow things down,” she says.

“It helped me physically and emotionally to check in with how I’m feeling. The whole sport is based on your relationship with your body.”

Claire wants to encourage people to try freediving, saying that it’s “really not” an extreme sport. As long as you respect your limit, she says, and have a good trainer then it’s a sport than almost anyone could fall in love with.

Claire trains in Egypt and then plans to travel to France to compete in the world championships, which starts on the 7th of September.

Freedivers like Claire dive to extreme lengths without any breathing equipment.

The competitions have three disciplines with each discipline having a different depth. Claire’s depths are called ‘free immersion’ which involves pulling down on a rope.

“The deepest dive I’ve done is 60 metres,” she says. “Think Liberty hall in Dublin, down to the ground, and back up all in one breath.”

“Nothing makes me happier than the moment I come up from the freedive. It’s indescribable.”

If you want to support Claire on her journey to France you can do so by clicking here.

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With the tagline of “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it,” the 20×20 movement has three targets to reach by 2020:

  • 20 percent more media coverage of women in sport
  • 20 percent more female participation
  • 20 percent more attendance at women’s competitions and events

And at Maximum Media, we’re proud that Her and SportsJOE is backing the 20×20 movement as official digital media partners.