By Hannah Stevens @hannahshewans

A FREEDIVER takes a single breath to plunge into the centre of a giant school of sardines

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Videographer / director: Mathijs Van Den Bosch
Producer: Crystal Chung, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Marcus Cooper

Mathijs said: “It was great to be there and I was surprised by how closely I could approach the sardines”

Airline pilot, Mathijs van den Bosch, swapped roaming the skies for exploring the ocean on his freediving adventure in Cebu, Philippines.

A turtle swims past Mathijs in the crystal clear waters of Cebu

Spotlighted by the sun, van den Bosch dives into the centre of a cyclone of sardines in this eye-catching footage.

Mathijs had taken a free diving course only the day before this once in a lifetime dive

Divers are often on the lookout out for more dangerous experiences - like cage diving with great white sharks - but Bosch was searching for something very different.

The airline pilot was also lucky enough to swim beside a majestic whale shark

He said: “I remember years ago I was scuba diving and suddenly it went black.

“When I looked up I saw this huge school of fish and the only light that was coming through was where the bubbles were coming up.

Most fish school for at least part of their lives but for sardines, it's a lifelong commitment

“It was an amazing sight that I will never forget so when I heard about the sardines I was eager to get in.”

The 38-year-old pilot only finished his freediving course the day before but, with experience in surfing, kite surfing and scuba diving, freediving did not phase him.

The tiny silver fish, hundreds-of-thousand strong sway in one sparkling cloud

Mathijs continued: “During the freediving course I learnt some techniques to hold my breath for longer and my record is three minutes and 20 seconds.

The undulating tunnel of fish could unnerve some divers, but the van den Bosch saw no reason to be worried

“But during my dives with the sardines I did several dives and they were all less than a minute.

“It was great to be there and I was surprised by how closely I could approach the sardines, I could almost touch them.”

Fish traveling in schools gain protection in numbers, and it makes finding food easier

As a city dweller, the Amsterdam-based pilot savours every chance he gets to immerse himself in the natural world.

The undulating tunnel of fish could unnerve some divers, but the diver saw no reason to be worried.

Mathijs uses his GoPro to take a selfie as he surfaces just after the epic dive

He added: “I didn’t feel afraid at any point as the sardines are harmless. Fear usually comes from the unknown and people who are under the water usually don’t know much about the marine life.

“Almost all of them are harmless, as long as you can swim and look where you are standing then you’ll be fine.”