We had a chance to sit with five time national freediving winner, Passante Adel, and dive into her mind and soul about what and how she has accomplished, and how as a single mother she was able to overcome all the obstacles that headed her way with a strong mind and a dedicated heart. How is it that an aquaphobe not only has faced her fear of water but also became the first Arab female instructor and the only female depth instructor?
Let us see what Passante Adel has to say.
1. What made you want to become a freediver?
The underwater world has always fascinated me; I used to kayak in the Red Sea to be able to watch the reef. When I heard about freediving, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to face a deep fear of mine, and to finally explore this new territory (re)connect the element of water.
2. What made you choose to move to Dahab?
I knew I wanted to come back to Sinai; I’ve lived in Sharm and Nuweiba for some years and have always found Cairo overwhelming. This time I took a month in St. Catherine to detox from the city and figure out a plan, somehow I ended up in Dahab.
3. What does freediving mean to you?
Freediving has literally changed my life. First, it’s been my chosen tool of self-exploration and personal growth for the last three years, as it creates a perfect meditative state that allows you to self reflect. Freediving has also helped me face and get over a major fear; the confidence one can get from successfully facing their fear can get them through a lot in life. Last but not least, I love observing passionate learners progress in the water and discover their own confidence and strength.
4. What are your biggest achievements?
In freediving it’s certainly my African record. It personally meant a lot to me that Egypt could hold the title as it also put Egyptian women on the continental sport map after having South African women dominate the scene for many years.
5. How does it feel to be the first Arab female instructor?
I just hope my story encourages other Arab women to follow their hopes and dreams. We are very strong and capable.
6. What made you an aquaphobe? And how did you overcome that fear?
A near drowning childhood experience. It was in the -ever-so-rough- Mediterranean, no one was watching, so basically I was very lucky. I read some research on dealing with such fears and they mainly suggested to just face the fear. First a friend helped me get comfortable with floating in the pool, then when I moved to Dahab I used to go in the sea everyday.
7. What’s your advice for people who want to try freediving?
To please find a qualified and professional coach. It’s true everyone can freedive, but freediving without professional guidance and supervision can result in serious (life threatening) injury.
8. How does your son influence you and your career?
He’s my best motivator. He loves what I do and he supports me so much in my personal life and freediving career. He’s been very understanding with everything from my work schedules to my training and competition preparations.
9. What challenges do you face as a single mom? What would you like to say to single mothers who are too scared to pursue their own passions?
Oh, many. Unfortunately, our society is not very kind to women in my situation. We face all sort of things starting from neighbours becoming uneasy for the absence of a man around the house, to his friends bullying him at school. And to every single mother out there, just believe in yourself. You are stronger than you can ever imagine. Believe in this strength and everything is within reach! Your children will be happy when you are happy, and miserable if you are miserable.
10. What keeps you motivated to keep going until today?
A new-found confidence, but mainly it’s always been this rejection of being boxed in an expectation or social construct. I hate this stereotype of the oppressed, broken, helpless Arab/Egyptian/Muslim woman. We are not this and we cannot just simply accept it.