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VIDEO: Kelowna's Cassandra Cooper sets sights on world free diving championships

20-year-old Cassandra Cooper of Kelowna is preparing to compete in the world Free Diving Championships in Cypress, off the coast of Greece this fall.

Freediving is a lesser-known sport where athletes dive to incredible depths on a single breath.

We got Cooper to define it.

A post shared by Cassandra Cooper (@_cassandracooper_)

"Freediving is essentially when you are doing duck-diving on one breath and you don't get to breathe again until you resurface," she explained.

Cooper has become used to explaining the sport to people who often imagine it involves diving boards or scuba equipment.

In competition, a diver begins with strong kicks as they head straight down, and that's when things get really strange.

"Once you hit a level of neutral buoyancy in the water, then you taper off and go into a free fall,"

Yes, free fall. The descent continues with the athlete dropping like a rock.

"You just sink," said Cooper. "It's very relaxing. It's very meditative."

And if you imagine it might be cold and dark at those depths, you are correct.

"It does get cold. It does get dark. It really depends on where you are," she added. "Some places have crazy thermoclines where it really does almost take your breath away sometimes."

She does most of her training in Vancouver.

<who>Photo credit: KelownaNow </who>

"It's actually been a bit of a challenge here," said Cooper, "because there is no free diving community in Kelowna."

She's thrilled to be invited to be part of the Canadian team, and while she has some equipment sponsors, she could use some additional backing to get her there.

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