ABOUT DONNY MAC
At the age of 12 Donny found an old VHS tape. On the tape was a movie, Le Grand Bleu. He wasn’t quite sure what it was really all about, but he was sure that freediving was something he wanted to do. It took another 20 years to realise the childhood dream….
The ‘pool scene’ from Le Grand Bleu, which has resonated in Donny’s memory since he was a boy.
Donny was born in rural Southwest Scotland in a seaside town, famous for its shipyard and marina, but barely stepped a foot in that cold and grey ocean.
He lived most of his twenties in the cultural hotpot of Amsterdam, but the bohemian and unbridled lifestyle of the young artist eventually took its toll. Struggling with chronic, debilitating anxiety and the resultant alcohol and substance abuse, he eventually left the city on a one way ticket to Australia to start a new life.
His first love affair with the ocean happened on the island of Crete, Greece (his love of island life began here too!). In a silent bay on the island’s south coast he first donned mask and snorkel and remembers the peace and tranquility of those days swimming among fish and other sea life for the first time, the rays of the sun filtering through the surface, but he was frustrated that he couldn’t swim well and was too afraid to venture into deeper water.
In Thailand, thoughts of freediving started to return to the surface, the fascination never left him. He walked past a couple of schools, but was always afraid that his anxiety and panic attacks would make it more dangerous than it already seemed to be.
It wasn’t until a few years later, now settled in Taiwan, and with his physical and mental health much improved, he took the leap and decided to fly out to Indonesia’s Gili islands and do his first courses at the age of 33.
Freediving was a huge challenge at first, unable to equalise at all, but from that very first session in the water he knew he had found a new home, a new tribe and a purpose.
Equalisation was patiently mastered and he began to relish the challenge and sensations of diving deep under the surface of the ocean. Every dive is a kind of journey, a kind of yogic practice of physical and mental discipline that reveals the true state of the diver. To take the process further, to deepen the experience, the water depth must also increase.
Since taking that first course in Indonesia, Donny has trained as an instructor for SSI, AIDA and Molchanovs education organisations. In 2017 he founded Freedive Taiwan and in 2018 began teaching courses from the southern Taiwanese island of Xiao Liuqiu. Freedive Taiwan was Taiwan’s first, dedicated international style freediving centre and has welcomed hundreds of students.
He continues to pursue depth for its transformative process. In 2022 he attended his first competition and dived 70m deep in his first official competition dive.
Emerging from that first 70 metre dive at the Taiwanese Cup followed by the ‘safety angels’. Notice the current affecting the line!
With his beloved Roxana at Freedive Taiwan.