“Diving with the Heart”

The First Disabled Freediving World Record
Berna Belgin First Handicapped Freediving Record
This project was completed on August 25th, 2003 before The Yasemin Dalkilic Project was established. Its goals may not have perfectly fitted the foundation’s guidelines, but it results surely achieved something very important and valuable for disabled people in Turkey.


Berna Belgin, a disabled Turkish woman, had been a longtime fan and e-mail friend of Yasemin Dalkilic. She regularly swam and exercised and had asked Yasemin for advice in undertaking freediving. Yasemin and husband Rudi Castineyra went one step further, taking Berna under their tutelage and training her extensively. They then set up an event, with full sponsorship and media coverage, where Berna set the first Freediving Disabled World Record, with the event shown LIVE on Turkish TV and covered by all media. Berna’s record still stands and she is an admired and respected spokesperson for disabled persons in Turkey.


  • To raise awareness about disabled living in Turkey, a country that was neither not well set up for the particular needs of disabled people nor showed the commitment to make the needed changes at the time.
  • To emotionally empower and stimulate disabled people to lead fuller lives by participating in sports and enjoying the benefits of physical activity and exercise.
  • To encourage athletic clubs and sports institutions to take steps to allow them to cater to disabled persons and their needs and to offer them incentives, financial and otherwise, to join physical activities and sports.
  • Results

  • A fund was established to provide Turkish disabled athletes with motorized wheel chairs, with Berna herself receiving the first one of several awarded. The fund has continued to operate and regularly helps many disabled persons in Turkey.
  • In the 2 months following the event, a massive increase of 42% in exercise and sports participation by disabled people was reported, including the formation of new teams in several sports all across Turkey, all of which cited the event as a direct source of inspiration.
  • A group of Specialized Civil Engineers from USA was brought to Turkey to impart seminars to directives from government institutions, architectural firms and construction companies on how to implement “disabled friendly” features, such as the access ramps and wider doors common in other countries, into the designs of new buildings.
  • Athletic clubs, gyms and sport complexes started offering more options for disabled persons, including specialized classes, training, modified exercise equipment and discounted memberships to encourage disabled enrollment and participation.
  • Media Coverage

  • 28 total hours on Turkish TV, including 45 minutes of LIVE transmission. 102 specific mentions/articles on written media, including all main newspapers and several magazines.
  • 44 total minutes on international TV, including mentions on Fox Sports, Eurosports, BBC, ABC, and The Discovery Channel.
  • Sponsors

  • Title sponsor: Garanti Bank
  • Technical sponsor: Quantum Watches