Oxygen by William Trubridge
Like any fellow Kiwi, I have followed the career of the world’s greatest freediver. Initially, I must admit, my interest was fuelled less by his achievements, and more by those of his famous father, designer David Trubridge.
Because of the elder Trubridge, I knew that the family had immigrated by slow boat to New Zealand after quitting their Midlands home and business in the UK in 1982 and buying a 45-foot yacht, Hornpipe. On this, the family, comprising parents David and Linda and infant sons William and Sam, they slowly wend their way across the oceans to eventually settle in New Zealand in 1991.
Here, the family remained living on Hornpipe, initially in the Bay of Islands where David found work while the boys were, for the first time, enrolled full-time in school. Eventually the Trubridge’s sold their beloved boat and moved to Hawkes Bay.
William Trubridge acknowledges that his was an idyllic New Zealand childhood. He struggles to imagine the one that he might have had if his parents had not been so intrepid.
It’s easy to see how learning to swim and to dive in warm tropical waters and to extend the boundaries of safety in a country as kind as New Zealand inspired William Trubridge. In the book he touches on the reasons Kiwi’s excel on the world stage. He is effusive when it comes to reflecting on his magical upbringing in this country. And – quite rightly he lavishes praise on the inspiration and support he received from his parents to be the best he could be.
Interestingly enough – for it is not always the case – William’s upbringing gave him the tools to exceed academically, physically and spiritually. He excelled at chess and won prizes in maths, English and science. He worked out and rowed competitively with a friend who was later to pique his interest in freediving. William also dabbled in theatre which is the profession his older brother Sam chose.
William Trubridge’s initial career choice was science and he entered the profession as a geneticist. But, like his parents before him, the sea was calling and it was when on his OE that William Trubridge eventually found freediving in the Central American dive mecca, Belize.
Trubridge acknowledges that before he eventually settled on freediving as a sport he had not grasped the need for repetition, discipline and practice in any of the sports in which he had previously dabbled. But there is another factor which has put him at the top of his sport – and to this he is deeply indebted to his mother Linda, a lifelong yoga devotee.
Learning yogic breathing and being a natural adventurer, Trubridge has been able to not only learn ancient techniques to extend his breath holding, but to also explore and accept the spiritual aspects that open up in this realm.
You will have to read the book to learn more about how and what he has achieved, which, on the surface seems to be mystical as the ancient yogis themselves.
One thing I can promise you is that this will be an enjoyable read for even the fussiest of readers, because this brilliant young man - somewhat an overachiever, it would seem – is also a delightful and eloquent writer.
Reviewer: Peta Stavelli
HarperCollins, RRP $29.99