Darkness brings a sense of calm, says freediver Sahika Ercumen

KOTA KINABALU: For 11 world records holder, diving beyond 100 metre depth underwater gives her sense of connection to herself.

Freediver Sahika Ercumen, 37, explained that when she dives at the level where there is no source of light, she feels calm.

“When I dive for the 100 metres, I do not look around because I need to conserve energy as I only rely on one breath (of oxygen).

“The surrounding is dark , you cannot see anything, but I like it as I mostly connect deeper of myself and calmer,” she said during a question-and-answer session when asked how it felt like to be in deep sea.

The Turkish national attended a motivational talk fo students organised by Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Life is empty if you haven’t start diving

Sahika, who can hold her breath up to 6-minute, shared how’s her life as a child who suffered severe asthma takes up freediving sports professionally.

The condition had prevented her to live normally to the extent of the parents were thankful if she stayed alive. After treatment, she started going to school at the age of 11 and had the chance to go for sailing during a school trip.

That moment was a life-changing point when she saw people doing diving. After trying swimming activity, which she could hold longer breath, a captain suggested her to go professionally for freediving.

“Holding breath or not being able to breathe is not a problem for me, as it was what I experienced when I had asthma” she said, during the sharing session.

The freediver instructor also added that being underwater is an amazing feeling.

“Life is empty if you have yet to start diving. You should start taking up diving especially when you have beautiful underwater in Sabah.”

Sahika juggling hard between studies and sport training

In Turkey, one is expected to have a full time professional job apart from being an athelete.

For Sahika, she chose dietetic or Nutrition as her degree as the field is closely related to Sports.

With tight schedule between training and university life, she has to go for training before starting classes at the university.

During the lecture, she could not afford to lose concentration and had to deligently take note or else Sahika will be having hard time to catch up with the syllabus.

Failure gives more lessons than winning

Having broke 11 world records so far, Sahika said those winnings are incomparable to one of her failures in another attempt to break record.

“There was a time where I went unconscious and black out after resurfaced from diving. That time I was very dissappointed and thought myself as useless.

“However, instead of being questioned by the public o n why I could not break the record, people including the president was asking how I was,” she said, adding every world-breaking record is dedicated to a corporate social responsibility programme meant for the ocean.

The ocean is “sick” with garbage

As Turkey Zero Waste Blue ambassador, Sahika said that there are more garbage underwater than the surface after pandemic.

She added that the pullution theatened the marine species where turtles have net on its neck, while dolphines died from plastic waste found in its intestine.

” I was involved in a research by helping them to take underwater samples in Antartica, where the continent has no human living.

“However, there are microplastic found there. It means whatever we do at one place, it also affects somewhere else.

“The world is trying to say something. My next record (breaking attempt) will dedicate to protect the ocean.”

Sahika to promote Sabah underwater to Turkey people

In conjunction with Sahika and the entourage from Turkish ambassy including Her Excellency Merve Safa Kavakci, the week-long tour organised by Sabah Tourism Board will help put the state in Turkey’s map.

“In Turkey, we have the Mediterranean blue waters. But we don’t have so many species or colourful fishes. I’m so excited to see the biodiversity here.

“We will be doing freediving (starting tomorrow for a week) and on the road, shooting for a documentary. We would like to show the people in Turkey how beautiful it is here.”

Sahika will also be diving at Kapalai, Mataking and world renowed dive site Sipadan.


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