The mist is suspended on the dense sea. An adventurous bird crosses the sky and scatters it a little, revealing the rays of morning light. Several miles from the shore, a woman floats alone, like a forgotten buoy in the water. A boat approaches cautiously back to the city. The silhouette of the navigator is hardly distinguishable in contrast to the channel. He stands still, looking up, listening patiently. The boat’s engine alerts the flock of birds that offshore makes its way. The eyes are squeaking from the glare.
The figure suspended over the water is that of Sofia Gómez Uribe, a high-performance athlete; sacrificed and disciplined in apnea, the sport that limits oxygen and immerses (never better) the body into abnormal situations.
Today the boat moves through the mighty waves it generates, but sometimes the force of the water waves counteract the engine’s effort in the middle of the sea excursion. This creates a more significant challenge for the apneist, who, being in darkness and silence, must face the most demanding conditions to move from warming to physical exertion, challenging to underwater loneliness.
At some point in her family tree, Sofia is, among powerful fins, descendant Bajau based in Columbia. Bajau, who learned to swim before walking, maritime nomad, and superhuman. The 27-year-old is a Civil Engineer and has three Pan American records, a South American history, and three world records in depth. For her, the relationship with water has allowed her to “redefine my limits, know me completely, understand that I am a simple and flat extension of the liquid. Surely for that, whether in a pool, a lake, or in the sea itself, I can always meet myself,” she sums up.
Practicing apnea tests the limits of the body. It is a type of free lung diving based on the voluntary suspension of breathing in the water. On the surface, breathing means lowering the pulsations to retain the breathing impulse once you are in the sea. In their first foray, few apneists can descend more than 10 meters. In the next meter, the atmosphere of the sea changes, the water seems to decompose all the time, between construction and deconstruction of matter. The atmosphere presses harder as it descends. Before starting the day, with your feet firmly in the sand, you can predict the conditions of the water: tense and a little frosty; already inside, it becomes icier, and the senses fall into darkness and complete silence.
At this point, being able to immerse yourself depends in no small extent on personal fitness, not having adequate security measures can become a tragedy. The sea is treacherous, and carelessness, however ethereal, can mean death. Unfortunate events during the sport are those of The Frenchman Audrey Mestre (2002), the French loc Leferme (2007), the American Nicholas Mevoli, or the Russian Natalia Molchanova (2015), who while training or attempts to break records, were taken without vital signs.
In her worldview, she understood the importance of water to communities. She knows that Indonesia, for example, inhabits the indigenous people whose members break their eardrums to dive into the sea up to 60 meters deep. Rows of moored boats, mostly abandoned to the tragic end of rust and scrapping, are extended in the docks; there, the Bajau spend their lives between skeletons of ships and water in search of corals, pearls, and fish.
We call it Bajau because it is nomadic to the last sea tribes of the world. Because she understands that human fulfillment depends to no small extent on the environment in which she lives and knows that water is a source of life, culture, and economy.
Like many other divers, Sofia is fortunate to train to be physically and psychically healthy. On the other hand, she admires the malleability of his sport, which makes the fishing families who find their livelihood in diving.
It is no stranger to the reality of communities that have ancestral practices around bodies of water; or areas of the national territory that do not have this; or the importance of Community aqueducts in the development of rurality; and the trade of healers, midwives and midwives, who are armed with boiled water, cotton, spared, gauze and scissors, keep alive the tradition of ancestral cultures, where women give birth in their homes.
Sofia is a storyteller of the stories that sail at sea. She accompanies us with the podcast “The Water-Revolution, ” which aims to tell the stories of the liquid’s social dynamics. We invite you to follow the social networks of Tierra Grata and Cuatro Palabras to know more.