Ndhlovu grew up miles from the coast in Soweto, outside central Johannesburg. In 2016, following a divorce, she quit her job with the company and flew to Bali where she learned to snorkel and then scuba dive, before returning to apnea in South Africa. It was not without difficulty: to dive beyond 23 m, you had to abandon your fears and learn to be present. With freediving, she says, “the journey is so inside.”
Like Magmoet, Ndhlovu was passionate about equal access to water. “I was always the only black guest on the boat,” she said. “I just wanted to change that.”
She founded the Black Mermaid Foundation through which she organizes False Bay snorkeling trips for Langa children on the Cape Flats. “We always go from terror to mad joy,” she laughed. She aims to dismantle the feeling of not belonging to the ocean, but acknowledges that barriers still exist for many, such as lack of free time and access to transport.
Ndhlovu, Magmoet and Daines all credit social media for the rapid rise in popularity of recreational freediving – in Ndhlovu and Magmoet’s case, that’s how they were introduced to freediving. Now all three inspire others to discover the beauty of the underwater world for themselves.
“A lot of people ask me to describe it, but I can’t,” Magmoet said. Instead, he issues an invitation: “Come with me. Let me show you.”
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