After twenty one years teaching diving and 17 years of competitive freediving I still remind myself regularly of his point. Not only as a diver, but as an instructor as well. Humility and hubris are opposite points on the same scale. I always say to my students that the most important quality to bring on a course with you is a teachable spirit. I would like to point out that this is as important for the instructor as for the student. The teacher also needs to be open to learning and accept that they are not god or all knowing. That is one heck of a big responsibility that I do not want, ever.
I finished reading a book by Richard P. Feynman, Nobel Laureate scientist, this week. The message I got from him is that our greatest challenge is to accept our ignorance, indeed it is essential if we are to open our minds to the full range of possibilities that abound. Doubt is not to be feared, but welcomed and discussed.
I have a vivid recollection of a very important discussion I had in a Cypriot apartment in 2000 with the great Belgian freediver Frederic Buyle. We were discussing how to maintain perspective and balance between the media, sponsorship and spotlight aspects of our sport and the desire to be a serious sportsman. I have never forgotten Fred’s wise words, they became something of a guiding light for me through the rest of my competitive career and extended themselves into my career as a teacher.
“It is easy to fool the public (on TV), the only reliable way to judge if you are on the right path and making it (as a sportsman) is when you win the respect of your peers.”
These are the thoughts that have accompanied me this past week as I had the great pleasure and honour of being selected out of the various freediving instructors plying their trade in this country, to teach members of the old guard. I had very well-known and grizzled veterans of the sport on my course this weekend with a legend like John Girzda not only attending the course , but assuring me that he thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. This is both humbling and encouraging at the same time! I calculated on the first evening of the course, amongst the 8 “students” there was an accumulated diving experience of 265 years! That is an average diving career spanning 33 years per diver.
It is also not the first time such a thing has happened to me, in 2009 shortly after I shot a fish at 60m at Durban’s no.1 fishing ground, I was honoured to have the 2008, 2009 and future 2010 National Spearfishing Championship winner’s on my course as well as the president of SAUFF (also a springbok) and a prominent Natal A spearo.
It is this endorsement from my own peers and the inspiration from previous great South African diving legends such as Eric Lombard and Tommy Botha, who I have tremendous respect for, that drives me on to make a difference to freediving in this country. As a boy I remember the impact Piet van Rooyen’s book “Spearfishing and Diving in South Africa” had on me and how the characters of SA diving (portrayed in that book so vividly) have shaped my own diving career. It also encouraged me to seek their counsel and I recall many afternoons spent in the company of great divers such as Andre Hartman, sipping Jerepigo and listening as they recounted tales of diving adventures all along our coastline.
I have been quick to learn from my fellow divers like when Hanli Prinsloo brought her friend and coach Sebastien Naslund over from Sweden to teach and when Linda Paganelli of Freedive Dahab came to South Africa and was teaching advanced equalizing courses - I attended both of these course. Another time was when I sought out further training with Linda when I went to dive in Dahab Egypt in 2011.
The most significant training in recent years that had a direct impact on me though I reserve for Gletwyn Rubidge, in 2009 we did a skills exchange, I did his spearfishing course, he did my freediving course. About 6 weeks later when I dived to 60m to shoot a fish in Durban’s murky waters, Gletwyn’s tips, tricks and pointers had a direct impact on the success of that dive.
And that brings me now to all the fantastic people that have helped me through this past year, here is the list of people that I would like to thank for their contributions to making my year a successful one:
First I would like to thank my lovely fiancé, Lesley Rochat, her love, support, guidance and encouragement have helped me turn not only my year around, but my whole diving career and it is with her support that I look forward to 2013 with great excitement.
My family who have been a very important support for me, especially in the year since my father passed away, they have reminded me of the importance of a strong family unit.
My close friends Craig and Alison Milner, Gary and Alison Akal, and Simon Thomas for their constant and unyielding support and friendship through all the ups and downs.
My coach, Maik Diercks, the best coach I ever had!
The Q20 driver, Mike Williams, for many early morning airport drop-offs and late night pick-ups
The AfriOceans staff, Terry Corr, Charmaine Rochat, Ishmael
The Deep Freedive for Sharks team: Johan Boshoff, Walter Bernardis, Roelof Du Plooy, Dean Channon, Ian Pasley, Cormac Macreesh, Mike Osborne, Ross Littlejohn, Chris West, Garrett Staats, Johnny Fassler, Rob Welman, Savvas Savva, Andreas Dimitriou, Gerrit Maritz,Tristan Manning, Mark van Coller, Sophia van Coller, Jenny Hayes, Terry Corr and Charmaine Rochat
Durban: Shane Breedt, Bruce Hickey, Quito Du Preez,
Cape Town: Louis Hattingh
Veldrift crew: Mannetjies Smit, Hugo Smit jnr. and Hugo Smit snr. Leon Struwel, Gary (Just Gary)
East London crew: Tom and Nicci Swartz,
The entire staff at the Sea Point municipal swimming pool.
Thank you again to my sponsors on the Deep Freedive For Sharks campaign, I am working out the details of Deep Freedive For Sharks Part 2, here’s to hoping we can continue to work together to create awareness for the plight of South Africa’s sharks.
AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, Blue Pulse Pictures, The Divespot, Divestyle, African Watersports, Midas Pinetown, Scubapro, Q20, Underwater World, Gooderson Leisure, Speedo, Coral wetsuits, Afrox, Printlab, Phoenix Signs, Skeg Product Development, Freedivers Spearfishing Equipment, Kim Maclean- Shark Lady, Ogilvy, The Sharks Super 15 Rugby team, Sharklife, Shark Research Institute, Biteback.
And thank you to my personal sponsors, Craig Milner of Q20 and Gary Akal of Midas Pinetown for your continued and unwavering support of me.
And finally I’d also like to thank every diving student that I have had the privilege to work with in 2012.
I have recently done a total revamp of my already successful course format, you can go to my website,
www.trevorhutton.co.za for details of all my courses.