At the beginning of March, I visited the Philippines for the first time. My plan was to do some freediving training in Panglao with some friends before going to Coron to visit Barracuda Lake and the dugongs. But, as we say in the Greek islands where I grew up: “Men make plans and God laughs”…
As the coronavirus outbreak took hold, we quickly made our way to Mactan before we got caught up in a lockdown in Panglao. Then the travel restrictions and quarantine measures kicked in. The freediving center where we were training had to close down, and after some time, swimming and diving were also prohibited. Before that happened, we managed to do some snorkeling along the coast.
Pacific Cebu Resort, one of the most respected operations in the area, has a long pier that is used for diving. Beneath, there is an array of underwater sculptures: two hearts that you can snap on a padlock as a sign of eternal love, a mermaid, and the 12 signs of the zodiac. The statues are between 40 and 55 feet deep in nice, clear waters with plenty of fish swimming around.
My OCD forced me to take pictures of all of the zodiac signs, and later, the idea of a zodiac guide for freedivers started taking shape. The photos were shot on breath-hold with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III and an Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye lens in a Nauticam housing.
(21 March – 20 April)
Aries are trailblazers. They are competitive, passionate and independent. They thrive in freediving competitions, and they will even make a competition out of making bubble rings. Their attention-seeking and bossy behavior can create tension, but they are all about taking the initiative for the benefit of everyone. Aries is the perfect guide and will take you to the best spots. They are high-energy divers.
Your main challenge is trying to keep up with them.
Freedivers born under the sign of Aries: George Panagiotakis, Morgan Bourc'his, Herbert Nitsch
(21 April – 20 May)
Smart, ambitious, and trustworthy, Taurus is the anchor in the team. They make great dive buddies and amazing safety divers. Honest but stubborn, they are willing to see your point of view, but don’t think it will be easy to change their opinion. They admire the beauty of the underwater world, and they will enjoy supporting your training. They love colorful coral gardens and the logistics behind a dive trip.
You are in good hands. Feeling safe around them, you will probably do your personal best.
Freedivers born under the sign of Taurus: Natalia Vadimovna Molchanova, Goran Čolak
(21 May – 20 June)
Geminis are dynamic, passionate and emotionally intelligent. Known for having two sides, they will adapt and blend in with any freediving group. They are loved by their buddies and the marine life they encounter. Geminis are not at their best in competitions. Their short attention spans will easily ruin their dives, but they will turn even the most boring dive into a memorable experience.
You can just sit back and enjoy diving with them, whether you’re training or diving for fun.
Freedivers born under the sign of Gemini: William Trubridge, Thibault Guignes, Mateusz Malina
(21 June – 22 July)
Ruled by the moon, Cancers are emotionally deep and highly intuitive. There is a lot going on in the depths of their minds. They are fearless divers, though they prefer nice, quiet dives. Nighttime would be their favorite time to go for a dive. They make the kindest and most thoughtful dive buddies, but you will have to get them out of the house first. As athletes, they will train more than anyone else to eliminate their insecurities.
You don’t need to push them. And make sure not to offend them.
Freedivers born under the sign of Cancer: Alessia Zecchini, Guillaume Néry
(23 July – 22 August)
Leos are natural leaders—bold, intelligent and courageous. Blessed with high self-esteem, they are ready to take the lead and make a name for themselves along the way. They will not set the buoy but delegate the task. They are more comfortable in warm waters and around shipwrecks. Their calendar is always full, and everybody is welcome to join as long as they don’t try to organize things. Leos prove to be brilliant divers and they are at their best when it comes to motivation during training.
You just need to get things going and set up the line.
Freedivers born under the sign of Leo: Agata Bogusz, Stéphane Mifsud
(23 August – 21 September)
Virgos are smart, sophisticated, and kind. They will get the job done. It is not easy to gain their trust, but once you do, you have a dive buddy forever. Virgos’ attention to detail and hardworking nature makes them great athletes and diving professionals. They love the equipment and most likely have the best there is. Their kind heart and attention to others makes them prone to neglecting themselves; just make sure they don’t get dehydrated during the dive.
You can always rely on them. Make sure to ask them for equipment recommendations.
Freedivers born under the sign of Virgo: Umberto Pelizzari, Dave Mullins
(22 September – 20 October)
Librans are kind and intelligent, and will put others before themselves. They are ruled by Venus and life is always beautiful. They are brave explorers of the underwater world. They will let everyone dive before they do, but don’t even think about jumping the line! Their diplomacy is highly appreciated among their fellow divers, and they will make everyone working in a dive center happy.
You don’t want to take their turn on the line. Be ready for mood swings.
Freedivers born under the sign of Libra: Stavros Kastrinakis
(21 October – 20 November)
Scorpios are passionate, independent and unafraid. They love a debate and will not back down in an argument. Being fearless makes them natural-born freedivers, ready to make a statement on one breath. Criticism is their way of showing affection. Scorpios have a keen intelligence and are good observers, which makes them excellent instructors. They will always be authentic even if it isn’t pretty.
You don’t want to lie to them or try to fool them.
Freedivers born under the sign of Scorpio: Martin Zajac, Nanja van den Broek
(21 November – 21 December)
Independent and strong-willed, Sagittarians are all about exploring. Natural-born leaders, they will go after what they want no matter what. They are big-spirited and adventurous, and they are adept at putting themselves in another person’s shoes. That makes them good instructors, though they will take their students or their group to the farthest dive site. They will dive head first into the narrowest swim-through and use humor to justify their actions. They are great athletes, but it is hard to make them listen.
You will be pushed to your limits, but you will never have a dull moment.
Freedivers born under the sign of Sagittarius: Patrick Musimu, Nikita Atriyu Fima
(22 December – 21 January)
Capricorns are in control, smart and hardworking. They are not stubborn; they just know what they want and how to get it. Very disciplined freedivers, they follow the rules and stay focused on their goals. Presentation is important for them, so they usually have impressive Instagram accounts. Deep is never deep enough for them, but they make great dive buddies. Everything will be perfectly organized.
You just need to get them to lighten up so you can enjoy their sense of humor.
Freedivers born under the sign of Capricorn: Tanya Streeter, Sayuri Kinoshita
(22 January – 18 February)
Aquarians are independent and enigmatic. No two Aquarians are the same. They want to make the world a better place, but they are stubborn. They love diving and they are at home in the deepest underwater caves. They will try to make their own equipment and discover their own dive spots. Most likely, they will take on every role related to freediving: athlete, instructor, coach, and photographer.
If you can’t avoid them, relax and try to learn from them.
Freedivers born under the sign of Aquarius: Nataliia Zharkova, Misuzu Okamoto, Carlos Coste
(19 February – 20 March)
Pisces are smart, creative, and deeply intuitive. They are also sensitive and prefer small groups. They trust their gut feelings. They love the sea and are fascinated by marine life. They freedive because they are happiest being alone down there, and it gives them the chance to recalibrate their two selves. A Pisces is selfless and a great addition to a dive group. They are artistic and make good underwater photographers.
You just need to enjoy the dive with them. They will even tell you when you are tired.
Freedivers born under the sign of Pisces: Alexey Molchanov, Solich-Talanda Magdalena, Arnaud Jerald
About the Author: Nicholas Kouvaras was born in Greece in 1969. A swimmer and a sailor from a young age, he got his first underwater camera at the age of nine. In 1998, he dedicated himself to freediving full time, contributing to Greek diving magazines and becoming a freediving instructor. He was a member of the Greek national freediving team from 1998 to 2004, and is a founding member of AIDA Greece, serving as President and now as Honorary President. He is currently based in Indonesia, where he works for Freediving Society in Jakarta. Check out his work on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
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