Roman Ondruj has been instrumental in developing freediving and Pure Apnea in Eastern Europe over the last decade. Roman has worn many freediving hats. He started as a competitive freediver and reached 85m in the Constant Weight with Fins discipline. He then transitioned to instructing, running competitions and training new freediving instructors through his freediving center Freedive World. While developing the sport of freediving in his home country, Roman’s love for underwater photography and marine life also led to him arranging numerous freediving safaris to Southern Africa. Let’s meet Roman!
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers? (The same way you introduce yourself to new students)
I’m Roman Ondrůj, Freediving Instructor, and I want you to listen carefully 🙂
When, where and why did you start freediving? What inspired you to get started?
I started in 2008 in Brno, Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is a landlocked country, so my first experience was in a pool. We had a top WR Champion – Martin Stepanek. I did a few interviews with him for TV and I got absolutely hooked on freediving and luckily there was a strong freediving club in my town. I always loved water and diving and had scuba experience. When I tried freediving it just came naturally.
What is your favourite freediving location and why?
South Africa – the amount of big marine wildlife is just amazing.
What has been your most memorable dive so far?
Diving with whales. The most enjoyable was diving with the Humpback whales during their Supergroup feeding. Most thrilling – diving with a humpback calf hunted by a group of sharks. Most dangerous – with Southern Right whales during their mating season.
What is your favourite marine animal and have you freedived with one yet?
Orcinus Orca aka Killer Whales and I have not dived with them yet. But I for sure will 🙂
Why did you become a freediving instructor?
Hmm …. I was planning with my freediving buddies to make a living around freediving, when we started to freedive at a certain level. After some time it was obvious that that was a too ambitious plan. But I kept the school and kept teaching for my pleasure and relaxation.
Where do you teach your courses?
There is always part of the course in a pool. We are lucky to have a 5m deep pool in Brno for equalization training in confined water. For deep diving we go to quarries with cold and pretty dark water.
How would you describe your local freediving community?
Growing, competitive, friendly and enthusiastic.
What gives you the greatest sense of achievement or satisfaction when teaching freediving?
When you see how someone who was struggling at the beginning and having “dark” thoughts about himself is coming out of the water at the end of the course with a big smile, happy face and enjoying the time under the surface with just one breath of air.
If you had to convince a friend to try freediving, what would you tell them?
Don’t try freediving, if you do not feel the urge to try freediving.
Other than teaching freediving, do you have any freediving related projects, trips or activities you would like to share with us?
I have a management course based on apnea called Breath it up. It focuses on stress management and also how to define your ability to reach your goals – how do you push yourself over your current limits and what it takes. I also arrange for my friends, freediving holidays to meet the marine wildlife phenomenons around the globe. Well – mostly in Africa 🙂
Thank you Roman.