Manos Protonarios is a passionate freediver and freediving instructor who lives on the island of Schinoussa, Greece. He is a self-confessed sea lover who left big city life behind to be closer to the ocean. Manos teaches courses via his freediving school, Aegean Freediving, and believes that freediving is a trip to discover one’s inner self. Let’s learn more about Manos!
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers? (The same way you introduce yourself to new students)
Hi, my name is Manos Protonotarios and I am a sea lover. I’ve been freediving since the late 90’s and I can’t imagine myself far from the sea. So 12 years ago I decided to leave the city of Athens and live in the island complex of Cyclades.
When, where and why did you start freediving? What inspired you to get started?
It all started when I was a kid in Schinoussa. One day at the beach I borrowed a mask and a snorkel from a friend and then it just clicked. Then one thing led to another and before I knew it I was a freediver, spearo, safety diver, judge, event organizer etc.
What is your favourite freediving location and why?
I love the Aegean sea. Not just because I live here, but the visibility, the sea bed and the variety of underwater landscape is probably the best in the world. I advise every freediver out there to visit Greece and dive in the amazing waters of the Aegean.
What has been your most memorable dive so far?
The dive that had the greatest impact in my life was the very first dive that I actually equalised the pressure in my ears. It might sound childish, but it was that dive that triggered all that followed.
What is your favourite marine animal and have you freedived with one yet?
My favourite marine animals are freedivers. You know in a funny way we belong to the sea too.
Why did you become a freediving instructor?
The feeling of sharing knowledge is amazing. I feel complete every time I introduce the world of freediving to new people. Also, teaching others to respect the sea and protect the oceans is of great importance.
Where do you teach your courses?
I teach mainly in the island complex of Cyclades. Schinoussa, Naxos, Paros, Iraklia are some of the islands where I teach most of my students.
How would you describe your local freediving community?
Where I come from, people live close to the sea. Everybody has experience around the sea because it’s part of everyday life. Very few people are involved in the sport of freediving, but almost everyone has some experience around diving.
What gives you the greatest sense of achievement or satisfaction when teaching freediving?
Seeing people developing skills, evolving and maturing through the process of learning and training and setting goals that they accomplish safely.
If you had to convince a friend to try freediving, what would you tell them?
In order to convince someone I would just say that freediving is a trip to discover your inner self. It’s an amazing way to control your emotions and feelings and become part of the greatest element on this planet.
Other than teaching freediving, do you have any freediving related projects, trips or activities you would like to share with us?
I was lucky enough to get involved with many freediving related activities. All of them gave me a different perspective of seeing freediving. I worked at freediving world championships, big corporate events for luxury watch companies, I run my own freediving school (Aegean Freediving), I travelled and dived around the world from Mexico and the amazing Cenotes to Indonesia and the magnificent Sibolga. But still I feel like there is so much more to see.
Thank you Manos!