We would like to introduce our today’s guest Adam Stern. Multiple Australian national record holder, rising star in Freediving with recent achievements of 100 meters (CWT)!
Adam, thank you for finding time to reply some of our questions.
1. I know that you started your Freediving (at least officially) during your time on Koh Tao, Thailand. What was the most difficult part of the first course? And why you signed up for the next level?
I was just backpacking around Asia and I was on Koh Tao, Thailand at that time, doing my PADI Advanced Open Water course. And once I saw a freediving center – Apnea Total and thought that it was cool and took a course and kept training with them.
I remember I did my first dive to 20 meters and it was easy and I did another one and it was a little bit more challenging and I did another one and I was cold and tired and I remember on the last dive I had a lot of contractions but in the Apnea Total course we weren’t taught what contractions were so I was very surprised at the horrible feeling.
2. Do you remember the moment when you realized that freediving is not only a hobby for a few weeks but something more important?
It happened when I was training in Roatan and one day reached 70 meters deep. I was just training for fun and it was all going well. When I reached that depth I was thinking wow I’m getting better in this, might be I should see what happen if I take it more seriously. After that, I came home and started training more seriously in a pool and then went to Dahab and started depth training there.
3. You are well known for your competition performance (Vertical Blue 2016 and Blue Element 2016 is just to name a few of them). But do you remember your first competition? Now, when you get more experience with it, is it easier to manage stress during competition? If it is not a big secret, what are your future plans as a competitive Freediver?
It was a mini comp in Dahab in 2013. I announced a dive 15 meters shallower than my PB just to have a nice competition experience. In my first few competitions I was quite nervous but now it doesn’t stress me at all and I’m definitely enjoying competing more and more the more I do it.
My future plan is always just to get deeper and deeper! 🙂 My target in freediving is always to progress, always to hit PB depths. I will do that for as long as I am enjoying training and competing in freediving. I could say things like Oh, I would like a world record! And I would love nothing more than a world record. But I find that large and far away goals are not that effective as having many small, short-term goals. So the goal for me is always simply a PB. Every single time I train or I do training cycle I want to PB.
4. To be able to compete on the highest level you obviously need to be in a great shape. How do you manage to combine teaching and training?
I am the competitive diver and my focus was and always will be on my own training and competitions. So, I have to structure my business around that. Basically what I do is dedicate a period of time to teaching and a period of time where I’m not teaching at all, just training.
My training schedule is quite complex and depends on which phase of training I am in. I break my training at base training and depth training.
My base training is training in the gym 5 days a week. I train CrossFit which is high-intensity interval training. I also train three days a week in a pool mostly doing dynamic tables. I mostly do hypoxic tables which are actually CO2 tables to the point of hypoxia. This base training period makes up about 2 thirds of my training cycle.
Then I go to a location to start diving deep. The frequency of my dives depends on how deep I’m diving. When I am above 80 meters it’s three days and one day off, between 80 and 95 – two days and one day off. And then any deeper than that it’s one day and one day off. My training in structured and I almost never cancel dives or leave it up to how I feel in the morning. I like to just get up and get it done.
Obviously, if I am tired and I need a rest, then I rest. But besides this, I don’t give my mood any power over me. If my body feels good and it’s time to go to dive or time to go to the gym or to the pool – I go. There was countless time where I’ve had no desire to train but I make myself train.
5. And why did you decide to start teaching freediving at the first place? Why PADI? What is your favorite PADI Freediving course to teach?
In the beginning, I was not really interested in becoming an instructor. I just wanted to make some cash while leaving in Dahab at the time. And then I realized that I really enjoy teaching, I fell in love with it and still love teaching. When PADI launched their freediving program I knew they had the biggest market potential and the largest reach. They had the largest potential to actually expand the freediving industry more than any other company that have ever been involved in freediving. So, I stepped in to be involved in this expansion, to be in a front line, and to help growing freediving as a sport and as an adventure activity.
My favorite course to teach is the instructor course. It is the most intensive and interesting course to teach. And I can work very closely with divers who are diving at a high level.
6. In your opinion – what are the main qualities which freediving instructor should have?
Someone who has expert knowledge in Freediving, who has expert skills in freediving, and very high-level teaching skills. Every instructor is different and teaches in their own way. Every instructor’s style may work or may not work with different students so there is no such thing as the perfect instructor.
7. What do you think, who can apply for PADI Freediver course (level of fitness or age)? Is it a course for everyone or you should be somehow prepared for it?
Anyone can apply and join PADI freediving course! Obviously, you need a reasonable level of fitness, let’s say you should be able to swim continually 200 meters or snorkeling 300 meters. If you can, you then you’re absolutely ready for the course. I believe everyone can do it. Obviously, if you have issues with your heart etc you should get checked my a doctor before you sign on for a course but apart from medical limitations, everyone can do it.
8. Now freediving slowly comes to be “in trend”, probably same like it was with yoga 10 years ago. More freediving centers, more students…What are the pros and cons of it?
The increase of freedivers and the growth of the freediving industry is fantastic. I love freediving soo much that I love to see more and more people doing it. The only issue with the freediving explosion is that there are some parts of the world where people are choosing not to take freediving courses which are so dangerous and in the end will only reflect badly on us all.
9. What is your opinion about freediving development in the future? What is the best way for it?
I would love to see it as big as a scuba diving. I think right now what is popular worldwide is all kinds of adventure sports, adventure activities, adventure travel. Freediving is all about adventure! People like to have a challenge. I see freediving constantly growing but what I want to see is the amateur sport of freediving became professional. A professional sport with paid athletes. It’s happening slowly. Now we have more divers than ever who can dive over 100m and the gap between the world’s elite professional divers and those aspiring to be is closing.
10. What could be your contribution, as a PADI Ambassador, in this process?
My goal as a PADI ambassador promotes freediving as much as possible, especially safe diving practices and promote PADI courses which I personally believe is the best and safest way to learn freediving.
11. And at the end, what advice can you give to someone who just finished their first freediving course?
Go and have some fun! Go deep snorkeling, go freediving in beautiful locations, explore the Ocean. You can just literally go anywhere and just check out what is beneath the surface! You don’t need any preparation, just go!
And when you’re ready to go for an advanced course! You’ll dive deeper, hold your breath longer, improve your knowledge of freediving safety and learn so so much more about your body, which is the most important.
The advice I would give to people getting into freediving as a sport. I would tell them, don’t take it too seriously! Have fun! If you are not having fun there is no point doing it anyway. Enjoy freediving. Enjoy the sensation of being in the water and have a wonderful, wonderful time. Never push yourself.
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