Interview to Marcela Ávila
Hi Marcela. How are you?
Great just arriving to Boston from Maine in the yatch I’m working on 🙂
Oh, so I got lucky to get you with internet.
It is a pleasure to have your time. There are not many people with so many skills and connected to the ocean like you, definitely you’re ‘The Woman of the Water’ How did all start?
haha aw thanks
I don’t know really, I was born in Bogota, the capital of Colombia which is located right in the Andes mountains 2600 meters above sea level, but at a very young age my parents put me on swimming lessons, then my childhood and early teen years consisted of spending most of my afternoons in the swimming club. Then at the age of 6 they took me to an island in the Caribbean side of Colombia and I met the ocean. It was as I was always meant to be there.
And then you decided to do your diving courses there?
Then every year I would anxiously await till our next trip to the big blue. Then at 16 during our prom trip to this same island, I took all my savings to a dive shop and missing about 7 bucks asked them to show me what’s down there. That moment I knew where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
I even fell in love with my instructor I remember haha
Was it easy for you to learn it? Which certifications did you get?
Yeah I remember he told me for first timers we would do a 45 minute dive, I was so comfortable he took me for an hour and a half. He said I was a natural lol.
Nah I just kept doing lots of DSD’s later on throughout my travels, till I happened to go to Thailand and decided “ok I’m going to just do it for once”. I did my open water in Koh Tao, then my advanced while traveling Central America in Utila, then Rescue when back traveling Asia in Koh Tao, where I then decided to stay and do my masters which got me a job in the same school Roctopus Dive, few months later went to Australia to work save up and came back to de my instructors with Roctopus and stayed working with them for a good time.
You have worked as a scubadiver and as a freediver right? How it is a normal day as a diver? 🙂
yes both, I did scuba for years then found Freediving :).
A normal day? very wet lol
They are both very different disciplines. So my morning routines are completely different. If scuba i would get up super early and eat as much as I can because water gets my hungryyyy.
If freediving, it’s much more aware and connected. I don’t usually like eating as I dive way better on an empty stomach, then I would do my morning stretches, including body stretches, breathing exercises, diaphragm stretching, equalizing dry exercises to check how my ears are doing that day and to end I just sit and meditate. I visualize my best dive of the day and this is a good tool to tell me if I’m going to have a good day in the water or not. Freediving is 20% body – 80% mind for me.
Beautiful. For a newbie that wants to start as a freedive instructor. What advice would you give?
Lots of patience with your students. A lot of people that come to learn freediving are people that are trying to overcome deep fears or bad experiences with the water, so being able to recognize this and adapt to them and allow them to have an amazing experience it’s very very important I believe.
Traveling, which certification does it fit better?
I’m an Apnea Total instructor, and I chose to be so, one because I like their curriculum, and two because of the flexibility to work as a freelancer while moving around the globe. If you don’t want to go pro and just do freediving as recreational activity I would suggest Advanced freediver certification.
This is not necessarily to go deeper, but to better understand what’s happening with your body while freediving and recognize better different reflexes and sensations.
What is your experience traveling & working? Do you have any anecdote?
Mmm lots really, but can’t think of one in particular. When I decided to get into professional diving I was thinking ahead of a job I could do while traveling to beautiful places, as it always seems to be either a dive instructor or bartender at the backpacker’s bars. So I chose the healthier one lol. I really believe it’s a great cert to have if you like to travel to places near the water, there’s always a need for divemasters or instructors as the tourism industry never stops. With Freediving tho, I
I’ve even been able to work in cities away from the ocean, teaching breathing workshops and waterman survival courses in pools.
There are a lot of things that you do, but step by step you’re also into surfing. You’re introducing freedive to surfers too. I’m I right?
Yes I am. I’m not the best surfer, I’m definitely a much more talented freediver haha
but from my swimming background, and working as a Red Cross lifeguard, and getting wiped out over and over while surfing, I was able to incorporate it all to create a good program for surfers that want to increase their breath hold and awareness in the water.
Well, it looks like you have some serious skills surfing!
Definitely not! Haha. I’d like to say I’m quite athletic and learn sports quickly, but surfing is one of those that challenges me big time. But I love challenges 😛
Are you teaching them where you go? Or is people that goes with you sailing?
I’m not sailing anymore at the moment, but yes I was teaching while doing so, now I teach where I am or plan to go.
Ok. And do you travel with your own gear? Are there any tips that you can share?
Best freedive gear for you?
For scuba I only used to travel with my regulator and mask, rest I always bought second hand from the shops I was working. For freediving yes, as almost everything is custom made. I travel with my Elios wetsuit (my favorite), leader fin fins, Molchanov’s monofin, then my Aqualung mask and etc
I recently got more and more into using just regular short fins for fun diving and easy snorkelling. They fit in your backpack and if you have the right kick technique doesn’t really matter much.
You also design swimwear. Knowing that you’re so much on the water it gives a lot of trust on the product. Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneur side and your project 🙂
Yes I do :). Seven years ago I had the crazy idea to create bikinis that would raise money for ocean conservation. As I was always in the water I used to make them for myself, and all my friends love them. So they gave me the idea and I went for it. I’ve always had a great passion to help the planet and everything that lives in it. So it made sense to me to make this not a business but a conscious project.
Love it ❤
Colombia along with Brazil are the biggest exporters of swimwear, so I decided to create an ethical suits in my homeland while supporting a small group of local makers, and after for every piece sold 25% would go towards the charities we decided to support throughout SE Asia, Latin America and Africa.
lunamarfortheplanet is called the project? Where can we find you products?
The projects have changed from time to time, and apart from ocean conservation we also added a reforestation and youth emporwerment one.
Yes Lunamar for the Planet.
We are on Facebook
And our online shop it’s:
We also offer the freediving courses through our website and 10% of each course goes towards the ocean conservation charity.
That’s super interesting
Stoked Nomads will look in the future to support organizations that protects the planet
Awesome please do!
Ok, Marcela before finnish I want to say thank you for your time. It was great!
Sure. Thank you for having me!
Would you like to share anything more?
I’m going to hit the road again soon so will definitely let you guys know of future events coming up 🙂
🙂 Wish you a great day!