Freediving “record braker” from South Africa MJ Kuhn set a new National Record in Free Immerssion and we have our TOP-10 questions for him
1. Do you remember how and when did you find out about freediving? What made you to start freediving? What were your 1 st steps in this kind of sports?
I started as a spearfisherman in Cape Town, South Africa. I didn’t really know much about freediving back then. Only once I wanted to go deeper did I start looking into getting a proper freediving education. I enrolled for my beginner course and got hooked instantly in the simplicity of it. I just kept going and 6weeks later I was a AIDA Freedive Instructor
2. What is your favourite discipline in freediving and which one you don’t like? And could you explain why?
That is a really difficult question; there are parts of every discipline that I like. Free Immersion is the easiest for me, It feels very natural to me. I think it’s because of all the rock climbing I did. Constant weight no-fins is probably the most satisfying as you are using both your arms and legs, you really deplete your fuel sources. I find it so satisfying when you are getting close to the surface and you can feel how empty your body is. Arms and legs numb, they almost feel dead.
Constant weight bi-fins is probably my least favourite although I still like the empty feeling I get in my legs after a nice deep dive. Just knowing that you have pushed your body to its limit gives me some kind of satisfaction.
3. Tell please few words about your freediving trainings approach: How many times a week do you train? And do you have a fixed schedule or you just wake up in the morning, look into mirror and depending on your mood, body condition or weather decide what to do today?
I work as a freediving Instructor so often I cannot actually decide what I want to do. However teaching does make you fit. I prefer to separate my strength training from deep diving, I feel uncomfortable if I did a strength session recently and then go deep. I don’t have a set schedule at all. When I feel good I train, I believe rest is as important as the training days. I’d say I probably train 3-5 times a week depending on how I feel.
4. And how often do you try something new in your freediving trainings?
I’m open to new training techniques, so if I hear about something that makes sense physiologically, I would give it a go.
5. The next question – what makes you day after day to go to train in a pool/sea? What motivates you to train hard? How do you fight humans’ laziness?
Firstly I love diving, it takes me out of the craziness of life. When I go under the surface everything disappears, I don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow. I’m completely immersed in that moment between the ocean and myself. I like feeling my body and being in control of it.
Strength training gives me exactly that; after I finish my last sets I can feel every muscle burning… reminding me that they are there. Once you start making progress like feeling stronger or having more control in a certain position that motivates me even more to keep going. Training and exercise makes me feel good, if I go for a while without either I don’t feel good mentally of physically.
Of course there are times when I don’t feel like training, I see this as my body telling me I need more rest. But when I do feel like training I like going all out, going until I feel like puking. Fighting human laziness is tough. Setting goals is what keeps me motivated. Both short-term goals, which I could reach within a few months, and also long term goals, which might take years to reach. I need something to strive towards.
6. Do you believe that some food products could influence the ability to equalize? Like gluten or lactose for example create more mucus which is not good for equalizing? Do you personally follow any diet?
Definitely!!! Sugar is the biggest one for me, sodas and candy especially. It makes my EQ feel sticky. I can still equalise but if I had something with sugar I often feel like I need to swallow when I’m in free fall with a mouth fill. As soon as I swallow I have trouble managing my mouth fill. Sometimes my soft pallet locks up, or I lose some air through my glottis. Also sour things like pineapple affect my ease of equalisation.
My diet is high in fat, medium protein and as much vegetables as I want. I avoid carbs, especially simple carbs(rice, pasta, potatoes) completely. My body does not react well to grains and bread either. I eat what makes me feel strong, for a few months I made a journal of everything I did, what I ate and what training I was doing. I rated my mental and physical comfort on dives and in training. So I am not saying it’s for everyone, but this works for me.
7. Let’s talk about money. Do you have any support from sports community of your country or may be some trade brand?
I work as a freedive instructor, which is my only income. I don’t get any support money wise for freediving. I fund competitions and travel expenses myself, it’s an expensive game to play. Getting financial support for freediving competitively would definitely make a huge difference.
There is no support from South Africa at the moment, freediving is still small over there. I have been diving with SeaGods wetsuits from the beginning. Testing prototypes etc. At the moment I get wetsuits from them when I need, which is a good deal. At Freedive Flow on Gili Air, Indonesia I teach freediving. Working here I am able to dive almost everyday. When I don’t have students I can go train, which saves me a lot of money for travelling and diving expenses. They support my competitive nature… I am always able to take time off for diving if I need it.
I am also part of RAW Adrenaline which is a adventure lifestyle brand. We have +-50 athletes from all over the world participating in different extreme sports. RAW gives me a huge platform to promote from. I write blogs for RAW and post video’s etc. Because of the wide variety of people involved I can reach large amounts of people through the RAW platform. Here is a link to my profile on RAW. Here is a link to the latest blog I wrote for RAW.
8. What about your targets in freediving? What would you like to achieve and how deep would you like to get?
I am very keen to put effort into my constant no-fins. My goal is to reach 75m CNF. My big goal is to reach the 100m mark when and how this will happen is still on the table. I like teaching freediving , growing as a teacher is also part of my freediving goals.
9. What do you do except freediving? Do you have any hobbies?
Spearfishing, White water kayaking, rock climbing, slacklining. I haven’t done any of these in a long while, I’ve been completely focused on freediving for the last 18months. As for hobbies, I like writing, I like chilling on the beach and I love eating good food
10. What would you advise to people, who just discovered this kind of sports?
Get a proper education from a well-known school. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Knowledge about freediving is what will keep you safe. Don’t get stuck on the numbers and depth, how you get there is far more important. If you undervalue technique it will come back to bite you in the ass. Freediving is for everyone, all you need is the will to give it a try. Potentially it will change your life forever. It’s beautiful.