guest blog from lou abercrombie
My first book, Fig Swims the World, follows Fig on an adventure around the world in twenty swims. It’s a tribute to my passion for swimming. When it came to writing my second novel, Coming Up For Air, I naturally wanted to continue with the watery theme.
I’ve been a swimmer ever since my mum put armbands on me aged fifteen months. It was the start of a love affair with water. From sea dips with my grandpa and swimming in my pyjamas for an STA survival award, to following in Lord Bryon’s swimstrokes across the Hellespont and completing a ten kilometre marathon swim down the river Dart – if it involves water, I’m up for it! So, when I read an article about becoming a mermaid, I had to do it. I mean, I was obviously going to be good at it! Wasn’t I...?
Picture the scene. It’s June 2018 when I arrive in Newquay. Three days of learning how to free dive, culminating in an underwater photoshoot to capture the moment when I dive effortlessly into the blue as a mermaid.
We meet our instructors near Fistral Beach. The sun is out, the sea lapping against the shore and the water sparkling irresistibly. I can’t wait to get in. Jump cut to sitting in a shipping container in a car park. Not quite the location I’d imagined!
The AIDA 1&2 star freediving course is aimed at beginner freedivers and wannabe mermaids alike. The fact is, if you want to spend any time underwater, there’s learning to be done in the classroom first. Basic freediving theory, correct breathing and relaxation techniques, how to be safe in the water… There’s even a written test!
The afternoon finds us in the pool and wearing our freediving gear. Thick black neoprene leggings, wetsuit that poppers up like a leotard, a black balaclava-like hood, enormous clown feet fins and a diving mask. It’s a strong look!