Great Britain Freediver, Helena Bourdillon, joins the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Helena has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.
Helena has survived and triumphed over chronic depression and now freedives to depths of -76metres. She holds seven National Records for depth and has represented Great Britain at 4 World Championships so far.
“I have first-hand experience of battling with chronic depression that I lived with for decades. After surviving preparing for suicide, I live life talking openly about my journey and how daily freediving training further maintains my positive mental health. Freediving is my passion and joy in life and I use my platform as an elite athlete to give hope and encouragement to those who are struggling to cope.
I survived with the help and support of family, friends, the NHS and a great therapist; not everyone has this and it is why I believe the British Inspiration Trust’s work is so important; they are delivering hope, encouragement and inspiration through their BRIT Ambassadors, offering a UK-wide opportunity for every HE & FE student (and staff member) to improve their mental health and fitness, selflessly raising vital funds for other charities as well as themselves, and signposting to charities and support services who provide vital help to those in need. Their annual BRIT Challenges are uniting and connecting students, young adults and staff through a feel-good fundraiser that could save lives in the process.
The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to impact upon existing mental health challenges. The demand for support from mental health services and charities is increasing and this is not a short-term situation. It is vital that charities receive our support to enable them to continue their work and I am applaud BRIT for partnering with PAPYRUS – Prevention of Young Suicide, Nightline Association, Student Minds and the Charlie Waller Trust, so that all donations raised by the BRIT 2021 Challenge will be shared equally between five mental health charities who support students and young adults. I am also delighted to see that BRIT are signposting students and young adults to the NHS, Samaritans and Shout.
The BRIT 2021 Challenge is an inspiring opportunity to help support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK. It is wonderful to see that the challenge has been designed to be inclusive and enables students and staff of all abilities to take part;. It would be fantastic if every UK university, college and student union embraces the BRIT 2021 Challenge, enters teams and encourages their students and staff to take part.
I encourage retired and current Olympians, Paralympians and athletes to join our BRIT Ambassador family and unite to both encourage universities and colleges to enter teams and inspire young adults and students to take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge. If there was ever a time for sports personalities to come together and support young adult mental health it is now.
I look forward to supporting students and staff at the University of West London, West London College and the College of North West London as they take on their BRIT 2021 Challenge.”
It took 17 years for Helena to get to the stage of being able to talk about her journey through depression. As with any mental illness, it has not been an easy journey.
Her first memorable experience of depression was when she was eleven and it was the start of a chronic disease that by 2000, had Helena preparing to commit suicide.
With the help and support of her family, friends, the NHS and a great therapist, she now lives a life that 18 years ago, she could not have dreamt possible.
Today, Helena talks openly about her journey and how her daily freediving training further maintains her positive mental health.
Helena grew up in London and was a water baby from the start. She learned to scuba dive aged 12 and enjoyed it for many years but always found it to be a bit noisy and cumbersome.
While traveling in Thailand in 2013, Helena discovered freediving and it was love at first dive! She found a deep level of peace and tranquillity that she wasn’t able to access whilst scuba diving.
Shortly after starting to freedive, Helena had to take a year away from depth for personal reasons but returned and in 2015, she was selected to attend the biennial Individual Depth World Championships in Cyprus representing Great Britain. Helena was placed overall 10th out of 30 women. In 2017, Helena attended the same event, this time in Roatan, Honduras where she was placed overall 5th out of 31 women.
In August 2019, Helena competed in the Caribbean Cup in Roatan, Honduras, gaining her first two national records in Constant Weight with Bi Fins (CWBF) followed by the World Underwater Federation (CMAS) World Championships where she took all four depth national records. Helena then traveled onto Villefrance-sur-Mer, France for the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA) World Championships where she secured three white cards for successful dives and came 4th overall out of 46 women.
Helena’s National Records and Personal Bests are;
3 x AIDA national Records for CWBT
4 x CMAS National Records (each discipline)
-70 Metres Free Immersion (FIM)
-76 Metres Constant Weight Monofin (CWT)
-76 Metres Constant Weight BiFins (CWTB)
-53 Metres Constant Weight No Fins (CNF)
Her passion is for the depth disciplines, but Helena uses the pool for training when she is London based and unable to access deep water. She is an SSI Level 2 Freediving Instructor and has a healthy passion for Yoga and stretching. Helena relishes both the physical and mental side of freediving and when not in the water, she is a much sought after public speaker when she talks of her journey to positive mental health. Helena incorporates the knowledge and skills that she has learned during her recovery process, as well those gained from freediving and how these can be easily translated into healthier lifestyles and businesses.
Helena is also a breath trainer and runs workshops for individuals and groups to help re-introduce people to the foundations of proper breath work (which we naturally do when we are born). She shows people how to gain better health with immediate benefit, both physically and mentally, through using healthy breathing habits.
For more information about Helena, please visit her website.
For more information about freediving in Great Britain, please visit the British Freediving Association website. Never Dive Alone