Liv Rose is a real-life mermaid; a Freediving instructor based on Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, the ultimate playground for ocean lovers. Here, Liv chats with Liss Connell about apnea, sub-aquatic exploration and how these passions intersect to assist with marine conservation.
Header image by Brock Deem, Hawaii
Hey Liv! Thanks so much for chatting with us. Please begin by telling us a little about yourself.
Liv Rose: My name is Liv Rose, I’m 27 years old and I grew up on the beautiful coastline of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. I have spent the most part of my working life on the sea in marine tourism and continue to pursue a happy balance of work and lifestyle by the ocean. I studied Environmental Science majoring in Marine Biology, where I spent a year of that overseas in Hawaii chasing waterfalls, swimming with spinner dolphins and exploring the underwater playground, all of which inspired ‘Liv For The Sea’ to be born.
I travelled around Australia last year and couldn’t leave Exmouth.
It was the first and last place I found that filled my soul with endless sunshine, boasting an incredibly inspiring and supportive community of like-minded individuals, with an abundant ocean at my doorstep. It was and is everything I dream of. I’m not quite sure where I’m headed or what a life here in Exmouth might bring, but what I do know is that it feels right; I’m happy and there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now.
Why do you Freedive?
LR: There is nothing – no other sport, no other adrenaline rush, no other experience that makes me feel the way I do when I Freedive. It is an ultimate feeling of surrender. Letting go of everything mentally and embracing everything physically at the same time. You can’t fight it or you won’t succeed. Suspended weightlessly in the water column, pure stillness surrounds you, a moment of peace from the outside world. I enter an entirely new realm when I Freedive for myself. It is truly hard to explain until you can feel it for yourself; only then will you understand what I’m trying to describe.
Ultimately, I Freedive for the challenge and the blissful mental state it leaves me in.
How did you get into Freediving?
LR: As a young girl, I always had this unspoken affinity with the sea. Like many people do, I believe. There is something about it that always makes me feel alive and pure and whole again. Six years ago, I spent some time on an uninhabited island on the Great Barrier Reef. I was working for an eco-resort, where it was part of my job to hunt under the sea for the guests’ meals. If I came back empty-handed, I’d feel as though I’d let everyone down. So, I learnt very quickly how to swim like a fish and become one with their environment in order to catch food for the day. This experience not only inspired me to go and study Marine Biology, I also realised that what I was doing under the surface was what they called ‘Freediving’.
When I discovered there was a sport where you could essentially become certified as a real-life mermaid, I had to do it!
Have you had any scares?
LR: No, I haven’t. I’m always very cautious with diving within my limits when Freediving recreationally. I’ve only had times while training on the line (with my instructor) when I felt like my limits were approaching. But no, I am a very conservative Freediver, I would say!
What are your fave places to Freedive?
LR: At this point in my underwater exploring life, I would have to say Hawaii. Not only is the water a crystal clear, royal blue like you’ve never seen but the volcanic islands have created a sea floor of lava tube playgrounds. It’s not until you take a dive and enter one of the rocky hole entrances where you find yourself in an underwater tunnel; beams of light ahead lead your way towards another exit. Wow if I could hold my breath forever, this would be the place I’d come to play.
What are newcomers most afraid of with Freediving?
LR: There are a few elements of fear with Freediving. However, I think the main one is that people don’t believe in themselves. They tell themselves that they ‘can’t make it’, ‘can’t hold any longer’. This is where the skill of being present and completely surrendering to the moment is your strongest tool in conquering your fears and proving to yourself that ‘You Can!’ Positive reinforcement is where it all starts.
We have to rewire our minds to think in a new way. ‘It’s okay that we are holding our breath, everything is okay, I can do this’.
It is a natural instinct for us to breathe, so as soon as we stop breathing and hold our breath, our mind instinctively tells us that something bad or dangerous is happening. Over time, we can safely alter this instinctive thought process to benefit our Freediving potential. Fear is a good thing; it is all part of the process. Freediving, breath holding, it’s a skill. It takes time, practice and patience to learn and master. I am certainly still no master.
Tell us about the courses that you teach
LR: I teach Freediving because I want everyone to feel this indescribable feeling of being at the mercy of the ocean. It is the ultimate feeling of freedom and an awakening awareness of how insignificant we are in the greater scheme of it all. From that, I aim to inspire my students and instil change to live for the better of our oceans and our planet.
Our oceans are our livelihood, the life force of our planet. Without her, we wouldn’t be here right now. And without her thriving into the future, we won’t be around for much longer.
In a Beginners Freedive Course, I start with the fundamentals of Freediving as a whole and lead into Freedive disciplines, technique, safety and buddying. We talk through breathing techniques and I offer some advice for relaxation and basic meditation practices. I also love to talk about the environment in which we will be submerged in. Being the ocean, she is always an unpredictable force and having some knowledge on the sea and how she works is vital if you want to enjoy her safely!
During our course, you mentioned that women have a smaller lung capacity than men. Does this disadvantage women over men in this sport?
LR: As women, we do have a smaller lung capacity than men, which, at the end of the day means we can’t store as much oxygen as men can. The average male total lung capacity is 5.8 litres and a women’s average TLC is about 4.3L. It also boils down to variables such as muscle mass, total body fat, and perhaps even the fact that women haven’t been competing as long as men have. Regardless of our physical disadvantage, like in most sports, there is still an incredible horizon of potential to discover in the Freedive world. The human body still hasn’t discovered its limits yet, who knows what further science and the future will hold!
Where do you recommend people begin?
LR: Get online, watch Youtube videos, read Deep by James Nester. Get in the ocean – does she make you want to explore her depths!?
Pursuing your first Freedive Course will be something that will stay with you forever.
Thanks so much for your time and thoughtful responses, Liv. It’s been amazing to chat with you and to learn more about your connection with the sea and how we can all, collectively, do a better job of looking after her. I’ve also really enjoyed joining your Beginner’s course. Having SCUBA dived since I was 16, I thought I was pretty confident at depth underwater, but what you’ve taught me has been absolutely priceless in pushing myself, mentally, underwater. So, thank you.
Connect with Liv Rose
Follow Liv on instagram by clicking here or visit her website by clicking here. Liv is running Beginner & Advanced Freedive Courses in Exmouth as well as Exmouth’s first Freedive Liveaboard Expedition! Max. 4 people $2,840 pp Aug/Sept 2020 or contact Liv for 2021. More details here.