We’re lucky enough to meet some very interesting people. Having joined us for our latest adventure through the South West landscape, we caught up with freediving record holder, Nara Ishikawa, talking about the emotional release freediving gives her, tips for beginners starting out, and her work as a tattoo artist.
Nara Ishikawa: Freediving Record Holder
So, tell us a little about yourself…
I'm Brazilian originally, and moved to England when I was 16. I lived in London for most of my time here, but ended up coming to Cornwall because of a job. My dad grows coffee in Brazil and I wanted to do something with it. So we found a coffee roastery in Wadebridge and moved down. And slowly, I started getting in contact with the sea here. Being Brazilian, I always thought that the sea shouldn't be that cold, but I just fell in love with it!
You’re also a record holding freediver. When did you start freediving and how did you fall in love with it?
I always struggle in winter here. Every year I'm like, “I'm gonna get used to this!”, and I never get used to it. So after Lockdown I realised I needed sun and we attempted to move to Spain, to Majorca for the summer. I was shocked by how beautiful the sea was. It was just so clear, the colours were beautiful. And I was like, “what can I do to be in the sea?”
Without reading into it or learning much about it, I signed up to a freediving course. I didn't know anything really (I didn't even know that you have to go upside down!) but at the same time, I felt such a strong draw to it. It was as if I had to do it. I just had to. I actually found it really difficult, but something inside me was like, “nope, keep going. This is for you.”
What has been your most memorable experience freediving?
I was trying to get deeper, down to around 30 metres. I remember when I came up from that dive, I felt all of the emotions. There was so much bursting out of me that when I surfaced, I had to hold it all in until I got to my car to drive home. When I got there, I just burst out crying and screaming. It was so cathartic.
The sensation was like… a bit of grief, mixed with joy. As if I was seeing or finding something or someone that I had missed for a very long time. I was getting in touch with me; finding a way that I could connect with my own self.
I've never had that experience again. It was an incredibly strong emotion that I tried to understand at the time, and I feel like I’m still trying to understand now.
You only started freediving in 2021, how has your relationship with the sea changed in this time?
I always had a very strong connection to the sea, since I was little. Dad would go in and swim, but my mum has got a phobia of swimming, especially in the sea. They always tell me the story that when I was little, we were in one of these tourist boats, and the captain said that we could get in. I was six years old and I was the first one to jump in, with no hesitation.
So it's been a development of that relationship. When I lived in Brazil I used to be in the sea as much as I could. The thing about being in England is that it’s a relationship with a cold sea. But, I think that's what I was looking for…
Another pretty cool thing about you is your career as a stick-and-poke tattoo artist. How did that come about?
I used to cycle quite a bit with a group in Lanhydrock. I was chatting to them, telling them that I was going to sell the coffee roastery, and that I was really interested in tattooing. One of them rented a space to a tattoo artist in Wadebridge, so basically that's how I learned about her. And that's where I went to do my apprenticeship.
Do you find that’s a good creative outlet for you?
I definitely needed one after the coffee thing. It was a production line business. We designed the packaging, but that was about it in terms of creativity. It was around the time that Instagram started getting popular, so I got to see more tattooists and it was at the forefront of my mind. I just needed a creative outlet.
To finish up, what’s one tip you would give to anyone who wants to get into freediving but doesn’t know where to start?
Do a course. Do it safely. Don't just get a weight belt and go! And even if you have experience, the famous one is: never freedive alone.
Nara's Kit List...
The Rainbird Waterproof Jacket
Yarrel Canvas Trouser
Penmere 1/4 Snap Fleece