Nanja is not only a mother of two and the owner of the biggest freediving school in The Netherlands — Enter Freedive Opleidingen — but she also holds the current freediving world record for the discipline of variable weight (130 meters), which she set in October 2015. In 2014, she was the first Dutch — male or female — to freedive to 100 meters in the No Limits discipline. In total, she holds 30 Dutch freediving records. She currently spends her time as a business trainer, freediving coach and public speaker.
Water really helps me to relax. To be one with the water, to fly into your freewill, is an amazing feeling. I learn a lot about myself through freediving. Every dive is a dive deeper into yourself, to face your fears, to get more confidence — it is a journey all by itself. I am also the Ambassador of the Plastic Soup Foundation. Everywhere we freedive, we see plastics — and those are just the big parts. So I use my world-record status to educate people to be more aware of the behavior that contributes to plastic pollution.
I am a freediver, but before I started freediving I was a scuba diver. As part of my training to build on my physical condition, I was playing around underwater a lot. I met a freediver who was looking for a buddy. He saw me spending quite a lot of time at the bottom of the pool and asked if I was interested. At that time, 2001, I didn’t know anything about the sport of freediving and decided to learn it from him. Then I really got addicted. In the first international competition I competed in, I placed second and broke the Dutch records.
I really admired Natalia Molchanova. [Editor’s Note: Nanja was the first to break a record held by the late Natalia Molchanova.]
I love to be with my family. They are the most important to me. I also like to read and I watch Netflix to relax. Traveling is also a big hobby. For the last couple of years, I have been more into freediving with large cetaceans than training on the line, and we have had some great adventures. For example, in The Bahamas, we encountered different kinds of sharks and dolphins, and we just came back from freediving with sperm whales. It is a magical feeling to swim next to an animal that is so large and to look with my curious eyes into his curious eyes.
Although there is an autograph of another world record holder on the suit, I love the flexibility of the Guillaume Nery freediving suits.
I love the quality of all the Cressi equipment. I am a big fan of quality, so I am very proud to be a Cressi Ambassador.
View Nanja’s inspirational TEDxFryslân presentation at: ted.com/talks/nanja_van_den_broek_how_i_found_the_courage_to_dive_deeper_then_any_woman_before