Dutchman Daan Verhoeven is a professional freediving cameraman who can hold his breath underwater for six minutes — and he used to be scared of swimming! Not that you’d believe it when you watch the POV video below. See him "fly" like a bird and then swim like a fish in this unique combination of aerial and underwater videography, shot between Porthoustock and Porthkerris on England’s Cornish coastline.
Watch the crazy descent from sky to sea
For Verhoeven, making this video was all about evoking a feeling of flight. According to the Dutchman, freediving is the closest thing humans can do to flying.
“When I stand somewhere high I get a feeling of wanting to jump down, but the death part would be less cool. In freediving you can let yourself fall down that abyss and know that there are meters of water below you,” says Verhoeven. “You have a freedom of movement, you can go left, right, upside down, turn all around. The only other animals that can do that are birds.”
There's always time for a selfie
As you may have gathered, Verhoeven didn’t actually jump off the cliff. Simulating the idea of leaping from land and then diving into the sea in one continuous movement was not easy. It involved the use of drone cameraman Matt Burtwell, who flew a drone off the cliffs to where Verhoeven was waiting in the water.
“I have to pretend to pick up the flying camera and bring it underwater in one move, then extend the pole with my GoPro on and do a duck dive at the same time,” says Verhoeven. “All the while I have to equalize — it was quite tricky!”
One of Britain’s most beautiful freediving spots
“Some people are a little worried about freediving and think 'danger danger,' but it’s an extension of diving and just another sport,” says Verhoeven.
"In the video it might appear that I’m diving alone, but my girlfriend, Georgina Miller [a freediver from Great Britain], was in the water keeping an eye on me. We do plan things out and have a good safety system in place.”
Believe it or not, Verhoeven used to be scared of water as a kid.
“Freediving is a passion born out of fear,” he says. “One day my stepfather put some floaties on my arms and took me to the swimming pool. I held onto his back and he pushed off and went underwater. The rush of the water going up over me — that was my first experience of flying, and I loved it. That helped me get over the fear and get into being underwater.”
As far as conquering your fears goes, Verhoeven has certainly nailed it.