It’s hard to underestimate the role of a safety buddy in any freediving discipline.
At first glance safety skill for STA seems to be very easy – you need to carefully watch your buddy and be ready to assist if necessary.
However, safety for static apnea is a unique experience in freediving: only in static safety buddy can talk to the freediver during the breath-hold – give comments, support, and motivate. In this case, the safety buddy in static apnea acts as the coach.
So don’t ignore the requirement to train with a safety buddy – it’s not just about following the RULE No.1 in freediving, which you learned on your Freediving course – never freedive alone, but it is also very convenient to have someone who can tell you “Hold it. Don’t give up. 5 seconds left!”
Except that your safety buddy should be a freediver, who knows how to do rescue in case of LMC or blackout, it would also be good to know how to do CPR. Of course, nobody wants to use this skill, but you never know what can happen.
Moreover, it’s always a good idea to refresh rescue skills from time to time – maybe once a week or once a month – in this case, you can be sure that you remember all steps and can do them even if you are stressed out.
And when I say that you need to watch your buddy, I mean to observe, paying all your attention to the freediver who holds his breath. When your freediver does relaxation breathing, you can relax, but as soon as he holds the breath – all your attention goes on freediver till he comes up and finish recovery breathing. You need to make sure your freediver is fully recovered. You must control the situation even after your freediver showed you the OK sign and a little bit after that. Don’t look around or check your phone when you do safety, as you can skip the moment when freediver blacks out.
I agree that sometimes it is not the most exciting job, especially if your freediver does long tables or a set of long breath holds. But this is a part of the game, and as we say, “if you like to sled, must like to push your sled up the hill.”
The last aspect of safety – your position towards freediver.
What do we do in Crystal Freediving for our pool training sessions – if someone does the maximum attempt or the near-maximum – 70-80%, or trying to set up the personal best, safety buddy stays in the pool next to the freediver. In this case, there are many more chances for some emergency, and the safety buddy’s quick reaction matters.
If we are training easy breath-holds – 50-60% of the maximum, it is acceptable for the safety buddy to stay out of the water on the side of the pool. Still, hand-distance to freediver is a “must”. Although during easy static apnea training, the emergency case is hard to happen, it doesn’t mean you can sit on a sunbed and drink coffee while your freediver is holding the breath. You never know how it goes, so you should be close to your buddy.
In my opinion, freediver’s results depend a lot on safety buddy. If you can trust your buddy, if you are sure that he is attentive enough and will not confuse anything, and will proceed as you agreed, then you can relax much better. And, as you know, relaxation is the primary key to success in freediving.
By Svitlana Gaidai