Diving deep with Amber Bourke

If you’ve ever wanted to meet a mermaid, freediving champion Amber Bourke is about as close as you’ll get.

While the Queensland local doesn’t haven’t a tail, she is passionate about the little-known sport that requires strong lungs and a lot nerve.

What is freediving?

“There are three types of freediving and they differ from scuba diving or snorkelling,” Amber said.

“Instead of using tanks to breathe out of, you’re taking one breath and seeing how far that one breath can take you.

“There is recreational freediving which is like snorkelling but a bit deeper, so free diving on reefs and wrecks.

“Competitive freediving can be done in a pool, so that’s basically how many laps you can swim under water and how long you can hold your breath.

“Ocean freediving is all about how deep you can dive.”

Amber currently holds nine Australian freediving records, the third-deepest female dive in the world without fins, and was named the 2019 Women’s Australian freediving champion.

While she’s not quitting her day job anytime soon – above ground, Amber is an electrician for Queensland Rail – her genuine love for the sport has allowed her to commit to gruelling training schedules and a lot of time away from home.

Being in the moment is one of her favourite parts of freediving, which demands intense clarity and concentration from competitors.

“I think that’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the sport, in that you are 100% in the moment,” she said.

“You have to be because as soon as you get a stray thought you get distracted and lose your concentration and lose that equalisation.

“It’s all about being in the moment and really thinking about one thing at a time and exactly what you’re doing.”

Freediving highlights for Amber have been swimming with humpback whales in Tonga and taking a year off to train for a world record.

In the future, she hopes to compete in the Bahamas’ Vertical Blue competition which she says is the Wimbledon of freediving.  

Listen to more from Amber below.

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