Online Magazine, Sports

Feeling Free Underwater: Salma Ahmed Shaker

Photo by Essa Jowher

Athletes with the winning spirit

Salma has been diving since she was 10, which she credits to her father, “My father studied marine geology, so his entire life, all he’s known is the sea. He has built many marinas, he’s a fisherman, captain, and diver. So he always wanted his children to love the sea as much as he did.” Although she learned to dive at a young age and enjoyed it. Salma saw the activity as a family affair rather than a personal passion.

It would be much later, in 2019, that she would find her gusto for the sport ignited. “Around five years ago, I met my instructor Mariam Shalan in a dry, static class, which is holding your breath for three minutes; she was impressed and recommended that I take the level one course. I said okay, I took the first course with her, and that’s when the addiction to the sport started, and I continued with my courses till I became an instructor.”

One of the many things Salma learned as a Freediver is that it’s an extreme sport from all avenues stating, “At first, I thought of it as a physical sport, but I was surprised. Apart from being a very physical sport, it’s more of a mental sport, so you have to be very mentally strong to dive. I learned to always listen to my body and respect it. Which leads me to understand myself and my body much better.”

Salma shares that she is very competitive. “Let me tell you a little story. When I took my first freediving course, my instructor Maria saw how passionate and competitive I was, and enrolled me in a competition. It was just two weeks after, I finished my level one, so I told her that I didn’t want to because it was something very new. Still, it made me fall in love with diving even more, and that’s when my addiction to competing began. In 2021, I participated in a world championship with the Saudi Federation. I was able to see my favorite athletes training, which was very surreal and motivated me further.” In the beginning, Salma was one of the very first Saudis to compete in diving. “There wasn’t really much of a competition because it was just me. But now I’m not alone. So this makes me even more motivated to do better, train more and go deeper.”

What does a day in the life of a Freediver look like?

“My day starts at around 5:45 am. I begin by stretching, lung stretches specifically to make my lungs more flexible, so I can last longer under deeper depths.

Then I head to the blue hole and start stretching every single bit of muscle in my body to relax it completely. I like to take a corner and do something called imagery meditation and I just imagine every single little, small detail of my dive because when you imagine it, it feels like you’ve already done it.

It’s like playing with your subconscious almost. Then I head to my instructor who has everything set up, walk up to the bowie, and start taking my free diving breaths, then I do my dive, and feel happy that I did dive. And then almost the rest of the day is just very chill.”

Instagram: salmaahmedsh

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