Every year, The Singapore Women’s Weekly gives prominence to 18 distinguished and powerful women who are successful in their own right as part of the Great Women Of Our Time awards. Meet 2020’s Sports, Health & Wellness nominee, Lim Anqi, Singapore’s deepest female champion freediver.
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Meet Lim Anqi – Great Women Of Our Time 2020 Sports, Health & Wellness Nominee
As the saying goes, “The scuba diver dives to look around, and the freediver dives to look inside.” For Anqi, a former avid scuba diver and current award-winning freediver, she knows firsthand the experience of both and embraces the meditative perspective of the latter.
“I’ve been scuba diving since 2004 and eventually I realised I loved the ocean so much that I became a scuba diving instructor. It was during this time when I was scuba diving with my students in Koh Lipe that I saw a freediver in the water with us. To see someone being able to be in the water without the aid of any air tanks, it just looked so incredibly free and liberating to be able to explore the ocean in such a natural way. I then went on to learn freediving from this very free diver. Freediving is a journey inwards, and it’s incredibly meditative for me to experience the freedom and beauty of being underwater in a single breath,” explains Anqi, who holds the Singapore national record for all depth disciplines with the deepest dive to 70m.
In a pragmatic society, Anqi went against society’s norms as a female seeking out diving as a career, and though she was never met with much approval, she persevered still.
“Going against society’s norms as a female seeking out diving as a career or athlete is also another challenge I had to face. In Singapore’s very practical society, the pursuit of a sport that has little financial rewards hasn’t been easily accepted by the people around me. However, I never gave up, dug hard into my savings to explore the depths of the ocean, and silently and constantly worked hard at it a little at a time to work hard at what I truly believed in. It is still a long journey because it is a sport where it takes a lot of awareness, commitment. Six years in this sport and I still think there’s also a lot of learning left.”
Since she started freediving, Anqi has since gone on to do Singapore proud by winning several competitions, representing the nation on the international stage for freediving, and setting new national records and personal bests.
With lofty accolades like representing Singapore at the Confederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques (CMAS) 2019 World Freediving Championships in Honduras, holding the Singapore national record for all depth disciplines with the deepest dive to 70m, and being ranked top 14 in the world for the female overall depth category in 2019, Anqi shares that placing has never been an objective for her when she competes.
“I have to always bring myself back to my love for the ocean, not forgetting why I always seek out the embrace of the ocean. This, and the love for the sport keeps me motivated. At the end of the day, this is not Formula 1, there are no million dollars or financial rewards to win. It is ultimately about setting expectations for oneself, and my motto has always been just to do my best within whatever circumstances I have been given.”
From swimming with the manta rays in Indonesia to diving with dolphins in Japan, Anqi spent enough time in the ocean to come face to face with its marine pollution problem. “Spending so much time in the water, we often encounter many floating pieces of plastic and trash. Marine conservation has always been close to my heart. In my last competition in 2019, I collected a few kilograms of sea glass from the beaches of Pulau Weh.”
As an ocean ambassador, her passion for ocean conservation led her to start the Sea Glass Project, to create artistic pieces and statement jewellery from sea glass pieces that she would find during her time by the waters. Given the ocean’s huge plastic problem, Anqi wants to use these sea glass pieces to connect with people and begin a conversation about marine pollution on how we can do our part to keep them clean for ourselves and future generations.
“The journey of a sea glass starts as discarded pieces of glass that have found their way into the ocean. Over time, they’re weathered by the tumbling of waves and ocean, rough edges are smoothened and years later they get a natural frosted appearance. My vision is to use sea glass as a way to show the beauty of the ocean and to increase awareness of the need to save our oceans from pollution.”
The Great Women Of Our Time Awards 2020 is brought to you by the presenter, Lancôme.