How to prepare for a Freediving course. (Swimming)

As the Freediving Instructor I was asked many times – do you need to be a professional swimmer to become a Freediver? And the answer is no, you don’t to be a pro. But there are no doubts that swimming helps a lot in learning Freediving, especially in the beginning.

swimming
swimming for freediving

So, if you are planning to do a Freediving course (find more information about Freediving courses) in the near future and want to be better prepared for it here are a few things which I recommend you to do in the pool

  1. Swimming with a mask and snorkel. Any style – breaststroke or freestyle – doesn’t matter. Benefits – you get used to breathing from a snorkel (and clean it from water), becoming comfortable with a mask and not stressed out when there is a bit of water inside
  2. Swimming with fins, mask and snorkel. Face down, not too fast, not too slow. Same benefits as above, plus you are working on kicking (not bending knees too much, correct rhythm etc.)
  3. Swimming with fins on the back. Improving the kicking technique and body position control. Make sure that your knee not coming up above the surface.
  4. Swimming with fins on both sides. Further improving your kicking style and body position control. Keep your body as horizontal as possible.
  5. Alternating swimming on one side, with swimming on your back. General body control.
  6. Vertical kicking (if your pool is deep enough). This style is close to what you are going to do in the open water

These exercises not going to make you an incredible Freediver, but they will boost your confidence in the water and improve your kicking technique. Here is a short video about the importance of swimming for a beginner Freediver.

How to train DYN for beginner Freedivers

In one of the last post, we discussed how you can train static (in case if you missed it, read here). And what about dynamic?

If for static you can do dry static apnea, then for dynamic you obviously need a pool.

Normally you can learn DYN on any PADI Freediving courses, but if you haven’t done any dynamic on your course, might be this video can help.

DYN Freediving training
DYN Freediving training

When you do static apnea – it is complete relaxation. The same principle can be applied for DYN – relaxation is the key. But in dynamic obviously you couldn’t relax all your muscles (since you need to move forward), but you should relax all the muscles not involved in this movement (neck, shoulders, etc). And even muscles which involved in the movement should be relaxed at the moment when you finish the kick (gliding phase).

Hopefully, it doesn’t sound too complicated.

How often do you need to train DYN? I think 2-3 times per week is enough for beginner Freediver. How intense? Not intense at all! Progress will come naturally.

There are few things about your technique, you want to be focused on. Choose one of them for a session and work only on it (let’s say be focused on your shoulders relaxation

Freediving technique
Freediving technique

the whole session).

How do you know your mistakes? Ask your buddy to film you (GoPro does the excellent job)!

  • Head position (should be neutral)
  • Relaxation in the shoulder area (quite often too tense)
  • Buoyancy (the first thing which you have to fix!)
  • Kicking both directions
  • Start kicking from your hips
  • Not bending knees too much

And here a couple of examples of DYN training

  1. Main training – do short laps with 100% concentration on technique (mentioned above) and relaxation. If you current MAX less than 50-70 meters, do ONLY this training. Approximate distance 40-50% from your MAX. Amount of repetitions 5-10
  2. Easy classic CO2 training. Let’s say 25 meters with 30-60 seconds rest. 10 repetitions. A bit harder than the previous exercise.
  3. Over-under. Swim short distance (less than 40-50% MAX) underwater and without rest, swim same distance on the surface. Repeat 5-10 times. Can make it a bit harder if decrease surface distance.

Sorry to repeat one more time – focus on the technique and relaxation.

Do it for a month and then can try to increase your PB by 5-10 meters.

All the training should be done ONLY with another Freediver!!

How to prepare for a Freediving course

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Quite often future students ask, how they can prepare for freediving course, which they would like to start in a couple of weeks (or even months).

Of course, if you just heard that freediving exists and you want to try it immediately – just sign up for a course. During the course, the instructor will explain everything you need to know and help you to do all the requirements.

Check out which requirements you need to pass to become a PADI Freediver

But some people always prefer to be one step ahead and well prepared before they start something.

MVI_1849_Moment09For them, number 1 recommendation – spend some time in advance training your swimming skills. Yes, we have fitness requirements in PADI freediving course. But no worries, it is just basic swimming (200 meters without fins or 300 with fins) and can be performed in any style (also without time limit). If you know, that you cannot meet this requirement, then it is 100% better to train swimming skills before. In some organizations, though there are no requirements for swimming at all. Which seems extremely strange.

But even if you know that you are pretty good at swimming, it would be better if you go to the local pool, or even better the sea, to practice. Because more time future freedivers spend in water before the course, the more confidence they gain. Thus in such simple cases as leaking mask or water coming into snorkel students feel less stress. The whole course will be more smooth and you may feel more relaxed if such small details will not disturb you. So the 1st thing you can do before freediving course – remove stress by regular swimming (with fins even better).

The next thing which we recommend to work on is  Frenzel equalization. If you tried scuba or freediving before, you know how and why to equalize. If you are looking for some explanation on how to work on equalization, check this youtube video. Besides, let me know in comments if you have some questions about it.

Indeed equalization in freediving is probably the key point. Even scuba instructors sometimes are facing challenges with Frenzel equalization, because diving head first in vertical position differs a lot from diving feet first. In this concern, it would be useful to spend some time practicing it in advance.

MVI_0481_MomentWhat else can be done if you have a few months ahead before the freediving course? You can do some stretching exercises. Stretching is beneficial for freediving, however, it is easy to pass the 1st level without any stretching at all. But if you are going to do advanced or master course, stretching will be super valuable and will help to make the course much safer and enjoyable.

The 4th thing on which it is better to focus is relaxation breathing. There are plenty ofMVI_0500_Moment mald breathing technics for different purposes. You need to focus on relaxation breathing for freediving (here is the link on basic relaxation breathing routine).

Also, so many people ask what they can read before starting freediving. My answer is always the same – just read a freediving manual. I don’t know about other organizations but in PADI we can provide students with the freediving manual in advance, where you can find theoretical aspects and practical advice.

I hope this information was useful.

And if you have further questions, or maybe, want me to cover some precise topics in next articles – feel free to let me know in comments.

Sergei Episode 1 720HD_Moment

How to start training STA breath hold

First Freediving course is over (if you haven’t done it yet – check here for more details), you are happy and willing to train more to become a better Freediver. The big question – how to train?

If you are lucky, and there is a Freediving club nearby – then just join it. You will find support and motivation there. But what to do if there is no Freediving club nearby? How to progress? Well, this is what we are going to discuss here

IMG_0511First of all – if you are planning to train in the water, you HAVE TO have a Freediving buddy. No exception. What about easy breath holds? Still no, you have to have a buddy in any case! If no – train STA dry (less fun, but safer!).

Before you start – refresh your knowledge about Breathing process in general (at least a part that it is CO2 which caused the desire to breathe, not O2). Don’t know where? Check out our video about it here

The worse what you can do in the beginning – is to start pushing your limits too hard! Why does it? Impressed someone? Because your friend can hold breathe longer? Or is it because 3 minutes sound impressive? Whatever reason you have – don’t do it.

Remember, a huge part of Freediving is relaxation, so, start with it.

But let’s be more specific. Let’s say your breath hold on the course was about 2 minutes. IMG_1180And you want to reach 3 minutes within 3-4 months. Here is your plan (train 2-3 times per week). Choose only one of these exercises for a session

  1. Do 5-7 breath holds, without checking the time at all. Finish every attempt as soon as you feel uncomfortable (urge to breath). Your goal is relaxed breath holds
  2. Do 5-7 breath holds, with start timing only after you start feeling uncomfortable. For example, your safety buddy can count to 10 (or less) after you have your first contraction. The goal is still to stay relaxed even after you have an urge to breathe.
  3. Do easy CO2 tables (more details in the video here). Increase your breath hold time very gradually (only last 1-2 breath holds should be challengeable). The goal is slowly to accumulate CO2 and still be relaxed
  4. Practice relaxation breathing (as meditation, pranayama breathing, and three section breathing). The goal is not to fall asleep.

IMG_1313Have you noticed “PUSH HARDER” advice? No? This is because there is no such advice here! You don’t have to push harder to reach 3 minutes static breath hold!

Stay safe and progress slowly!

 

Freediving book “Longer and Deeper”

It wouldn’t be a surprise if I say that it is not that many available Freediving books around. The last one which I read was “Oxygen” by William Trubridge. And I am also in the middle of “Manual of Freediving” by Umberto Pelizzari.

IMG_2736

So, it was a pleasant surprise when the book “Longer and Deeper” by Jaap Verbaas was published a couple of months ago.

I don’t know the author personally, but I read a couple of his articles on the website Freedive Wire and also saw a couple of thoughtful comments here and there on different social media.

So, I was pretty excited to get his book. Is it worth to get it?

My opinion – 300% yes. First of all, it is not a “beginner level” manual, where an author explaining MDR or hyperventilation and you are skipping it because there is nothing new there. It is also not complicated medical research where you should Google every second word to understand what the article is about. It is somewhere in the middle.

But what is it exactly about? The book is mostly about how and why to train “dry”. There are exercises with explanations on how to do them and what exactly you will get from it.

I am not telling that these exercises are unique and you couldn’t find them somewhere else. But I was hooked by simple explanations about how exactly they work as a cross training for a Freediver. I haven’t met such detailed explanations before.

For whom this book will be useful? If you are a highly experienced Freediver with an academic background in the human physiology – then probably you will not find anything new. For anyone else – give it a try. Especially if you are not simply trying to increase your PB’s, but also want to understand deeply processes in the body during apnea training.

For example for me, none of the exercises was new (ok, I never tried apnea squads), but an explanation of how it works boosts my interest to understand more about certain parts of human physiology. So, because of it, I spent the last month trying deeply understanding different processes in a human body during apnea.

Overall this book is definitely in the TOP list of Freediving books for me at the moment and I definitely recommend reading it. And also I hope the author is not going to stop and will continue his researches and we can expect the second edition in the near future!

Nose clip for Freediving

When you start freediving it seems, that only equipment you need is a pair of fins and mask with a snorkel.

freediving maskBut after a while, you discover that there is so much stuff can be additionally used. You can easily live without it, but freediving training is going to be much more effective and fun with it

Today we are going to talk about one of these freediver’s toys – a nose clip.

 

As soon as you get the nose clip, probably static breath hold in a pool with it will be your first choice. At least this is what we are doing on a PADI Advanced Freediver course

What is the difference between using a mask and a nose clip – with the nose clip you have your whole face contacting with the water, which will help to trigger mammalian diving reflex (MDR). And it is strongly important for freediving as MDR influences blood shift, decrease heart rate and force your spleen to contract.

Some freedivers prefer to combine nose clip with another useful toy – swimming goggles. 20180130_202253It is a kind of compromise between a mask and a “naked” face. It depends on your personal preference to wear goggles for static apnea or not.  But keep in mind how sensitive your eyes are to pool water and chemicals in it. If you feel comfortable to stay in water without goggles – you are more than welcomed to do it. Just try and you will see the difference.

Another case where you can use your new nose clip in a pool is dynamic apnea. You will see how completely different your feeling going to be. And you will realize it, not when you replace mask with nose clip and goggles, but let’s say when you wear the mask again. This is quite similar to feel the difference in diving in a wetsuit and in a swimsuit.

And the last step for you in getting closer with a nose clip will be diving in the open water, where hands-free equalization provides you with a lot of opportunities to evolve as a freediver. Free Immersion and No fins are probably two main disciplines were you can improve technique efficiency without a need to pinch your nose every meter.

static table_MomentMonofin and bi fins dive also will become more streamlined and hydrodynamic if you don’t need to bring your hand to the nose for equalization. It will allow you to glide in water more smooth and effortless.

The same as in a pool, in open water it is completely up to you to use goggles or not. Of course, for depth trainings, you cannot use swimming goggles, which you use in a pool. In this concern, we are coming to another not compulsory but such a lovely accessory for freediving as goggles for deep diving. Nowadays such goggles can be two types – membrane lenses goggles (equalize automatically) and fluid lenses goggles (do not require equalization). But as I have mentioned above – there is no strong need in this. And probably one of the best proof that nose clip only diving works effective – it is extremely popular among high-level athletes at the competition.

 

By Svitlana Gaidai

 

 

 

 

Lungs overexpansion in Freediving

First of all, lung overexpansion (LO) injury is very rarely in Freediving. So, don’t be scared. But since it can be a serious trauma better to have a solid understanding of what it is and how to avoid it.

First, let’s have a talk about the structure of the lungs.

Our lungs are sponge-like air-filled organs that transfer air molecules to and from bloodlungs9 cells. The trachea (windpipe) conducts inhaled air into the lungs through bronchi, which then dived into smaller branches (bronchioles), finally becoming microscopic.

The bronchioles eventually end in clusters of very small air sacs called alveoli. In the alveoli, O2 from the air is absorbed into the blood and CO2 (a waste product of metabolism) moves from the blood to the alveoli (and eventually exhaled). This process in the alveoli calls gas exchange.

Lungs are major airspace in our body. We have actually two lungs – a right and left lungs. They are situated within the thoracic cavity of the chest. The right lung is bigger than the left, which shares space in the chest with the heart.

lungs1Lungs are delicate tissues, and can easily be ruptured. If the air flow inside our lungs becomes restricted as you ascend, the expanding air can rapture the delicate alveoli inside the lungs. This can happen without any warning sensations (since the lungs do not sense pain). Chest congestion, scar tissue, lung disease, and damage from smoking can also create air flow restriction and contribute to LO.

 

When you do a scuba course, your instructor going to repeat many times that the main rule of Scuba Diving – never to hold your breath. Why?

When you do scuba diving you breathe compressed air from scuba tanks and your lungs have the same volume at any given depth. This is why if you are even 10 meters deep and make a rapid ascent with breath hold (due to a panic let’s say) your lungs will expand twice from the normal size! Lung tissue can stretch out a little bit, but not twice from its normal size. Which is easy can bring a scuba diver to the risk of lungs barotrauma.

Lungs barotrauma (LB) can be in a few basic forms

  1. Arterial gas embolism – gas from the lungs escapes into the bloodstream (which can lungs2form bubbles and block blood circulation)
  2. Pneumothorax – air enters the space between the lungs, expands and cause lungs to collapse
  3. Mediastinal emphysema – air enters the space between the chest and the lungs, expands and put the pressure on the lung, heart, or blood vessels.
  4. Subcutaneous emphysema – air escapes from the lungs and travels underneath of the skin (most often around the neck), which can result in voice changing, difficulties swallowinglungs4

Common symptoms of LB are

  1. Paralyze, especially on one side of the body
  2. Unconsciousness
  3. Dizziness and confusion
  4. Coughing up blood
  5. Loss of vision
  6. Change in voice
  7. Heavy chest pain and difficulties in breathing

 

Is lung overexpansion can be a problem for Freedivers? Normally it is not. When you freedive, lungs compressed on your way down and re-expand on your way up to the original volume. So, there is no overexpansion.

But let’s have a look at two situations which can have a potential risk of lungs overexpansion injury

  1. BREATHING FROM SCUBA TANK UNDERWATER. Imagine, a Freediver makes a dive to 10 meters. His lungs compressed at this depth almost twice. When he ascends, lungs come back to their normal shape. But what happened if Freediver takes a breath from scuba tank underwater and then ascent? After inhale from scuba tank lungs will expand to its normal size (sea level), but then, on the way up the lungs will expand twice. What about exhaling on the way up? It will defiantly reduce the risk, but not illuminate it (you also have to keep the ascend speed as slow as you can). But to remove the risk – DON’T TAKE AIR FROM SCUBA DIVER UNDERWATER!
  2. By doing packing Freediver will over expand the lungs on the surface (lungs volume is going to be higher than Total Lungs Capacity). Then Freediver dive to the planned depth. During the dive he is going to have MDR (blood shift in particular) which moves a certain amount of blood into the lungs (causing blood vessels around alveoli to expand in size), preventing from crushing. On the way up air starts to expand, and blood vessels still bigger in size. This theoretically can increase the risk of lung overexpansion. The risk is not huge, but do exist. To minimize it, Freedivers who are packing exhale before they reach the surface (which also decrease the risk of BO). So, before you start practicing packing, please ask your self – DO YOU REALLY NEED TO DO IT? Please, keep in mind that packing is a highly advanced technique and should be practiced only by experienced athletes. Are you high experienced Freediver?

 

Treating lung overexpansion injury.

lungs6Symptoms of LO occur immediately and can include difficulty breathing, chest pain, crackling under the skin, unconsciousness or death. First aid must begin immediately while transportation to a medical facility is arranged. 100% O2 should be provided as soon as possible and CPR started if necessary. Ask yourself, do you have CPR skills?

The victim will need treatment in a hyperbaric (pressurized) chamber as soon as possible to shrink the air bubbles, and then slowly decompressed to allow the air to pass out of the body before it expands and interferes with respiration and circulation.

Suspected tension pneumothorax is treated with needle decompression followed by tube lungs7thoracostomy (at the hospital of course). If a smaller pneumothorax is present and there is no sign of hemodynamic or respiratory instability, the pneumothorax may resolve when high-flow 100% O2 is given for 24-48 hrs. If this treatment is ineffective or if a large pneumothorax is present, tube thoracostomy is done.

Computed tomography of the chest is recommending in any case of suspected pulmonary barotrauma in order predicting future fitness to dive

How to choose a mask for Freediving

Probably the 1st thing your personal freediving equipment starts with is a mask and a snorkel.

freediving maskThis step is easy to explain: rental masks might not fit you well and can constantly leak. Besides, it’s always more pleasant to be the only one who wears the mask which touches your face. Also, you don’t depend on rental shops operation hours and with your own mask, you can go snorkeling or freediving wherever and whenever you want. And the last reason – it’s super easy to travel with a little mask in a bag. Way easier, than with a pair of freediving fins.

So how to pick up the decent mask? If you are already a certified Freediver, probably you know the answer. If not, let me explain

Remember one thing – the best mask for you is the mask, which fits you independently on cost and brand.

Let me give you a couple of advice on how to pick up the perfect mask.

It is always better to try the mask first. Ideally in the water, but at least in a shop.

And there are two main things you ’d better pay attention to mask shouldn’t hurt you and you should be able to equalize in it.

If you put the mask on your face and press on the top of the nose bridge and if you feelDCIM101GOPROG0091796.JPG little pain, this mask is not for you. As little pain can become a terrible headache after 1-hour freediving or snorkeling session.

Another important thing – equalization. Be sure that you can pinch your nose to equalize. Some masks have extremely huge nose pocket, like Omer Zero, and it’s a real challenge to find the nose in such a mask.

Let’s talk about the features, which mask should have to be suitable for freediving.

So, in freediving unlike to scuba diving to equalize the mask we are using our air from the lungs, which is limited and which we actually need to dive deeper. That is why for freediving mask it is extremely important to be as low in volume as possible. And single lens mask has always more volume then double lens one. In this concern, you need to look for a double lens mask. Soft silicone skirt is important as it seals better around the face. And except that it is much easier to pinch the nose for equalization. In this concern, PVC skirt masks are not a smart choice at all.

Let’s take a look at one example of the mask.

mask for freedivingYou might have seen many freedivers diving in Sphera mask by Aqualung. It’s a gorgeous not expensive and unique mask due to its bent lenses, which allows the mask to follow the shape of the face. This provides super low volume and high side vision. But to make the lenses curve manufacturer had to use plastic instead of glass. And plastic is much less resistant to the scratches. That is not a problem at all if you care your equipment well. In case, you have a habit to drop your mask anywhere but not in the box, probably you have to check for another option.

And the last thing which I would like to cover is the difference between brand and noname masks. Brands usually provide good warranty conditions and in case your mask is broken due to manufacturing failure, you can apply for warranty repair or replacement. But be sure you have saved the receipt to confirm your purchase. The best way is to take photos of all your receipts and keep the digital copies in case you lose a paper bill.

I hope all these tips will be useful for you when you come to the shop for your 1st Freediving mask.

And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in comments below.

 

By Svitlana Gaidai

 

 

 

Freediving vs Scuba Diving

DCIM100GOPROFreediving, as a recreational water-based activity (as well as a sport), getting more and more popular. But still, it is far away from other water activities, like for example scuba diving.

There are a lot of myths around Freediving, which stopping people to try it. Or at least confusing.

Let’s try to find out which one is true and which one is not. So, let’s start!

  1. Freedivers can come much closer to the marine life. NOT TRUE. Well, actually it depends. If you compare an experienced Freediver and a beginner level Scuba Diver, then it is true 100%. But if we compare both an experience Scuba Diver and a Freediver, then it is not that simple. As a former scuba instructor, I had a few thousands of dives and I can say that majority of the marine life can come very close to you (reef fish, turtles, stingrays, sharks etc). Less than a half meter. SomeDCIM101GOPROG0154199.JPG people are saying that fish afraid of the bubbles. But why should they be? Fish are afraid of their natural predators and they don’t make bubbles. Fish afraid if you make too much movement and if you are rapidly closing the distance. However, I am willing to accept that some marine life can come close to a Freediver (at least I was told so by other Freedivers).
  2. Freediving is more environments friendly. TRUE. Freediving boat is usually much smaller and requires a smaller engine. And they don’t have compressors. It reduces air and water pollution (as well as noise pollution). All of this makes a difference on our impact on Nature. Also, Freedivers are usually not that close to the corals (especially beginner level), so, fewer chances to damage fragile corals. We are also diving on the reefs less often (mainly we are diving just in the blue).
  3. Freedivers have less equipment. ALMOST TRUE. If you compare Freediving vs Scuba Diving – you will probably think – oh, this is 100% true, but it is not that DCIM102GOPROGOPR3616.JPGsimple again. If we are talking about starting – then for sure it is true! As soon as you have a mask, you can be a Freediver 😉 For scuba, even for absolute beginner level, there is a standard set – BCD, regulator, fins, scuba tank etc. Coming back to Freediving, like I said, in the beginning, you can just invest in the mask and snorkel. But then it will probably be more equipment – weight belt, neck weight, wetsuit, nose clip, safety lanyard, goggles for the swimming pool, float and rope if you want to train with your buddy independently, etc.
  4. Freedivers are leading a healthier lifestyle. TRUE. Some people like to call Scuba Diving sport, which always confuses me. Obviously, it is not. But freediving is. Even if you are not very serious about results. Freediving training combines correct breathing, different relaxation techniques, different physical exercises (in open water, pool, gym etc), as well as mental training. So, yes, if you like to be connected with Nature and stay healthy – Freediving should be your choice.
  5. Freediving is more dangerous. ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. Let’s make a line between Freedivers who are properly educated and follow safety rules and someone who has no idea about basic safety rules and just decided that he/she needs to dive deeper or hold the breath longer. Among the first groups, some problems occur, butDCIM100GOPROG0010673. they are not fatal. The second group is just playing Russian roulette. But the same is true for any other activity in our life – you have to follow safety rules. Even for walking. Disagree? Try to walk across a high way! When someone tells that Freedivers are dying regularly, I am always asking where this information is coming from. And there is no answer. Simple because it is not true. So, the bottom line here – follow safety rules and Freediving would be the safest water based activity!
  6. Freediving is a more natural way to be underwater. Well, of course, it is TRUE. We don’t create with the scuba tanks on our back. But we have reflexes which help us to stay underwater longer and dive deeper. Holding the breath for a certain time is natural for us, as well to the other marine mammals.

 

DCIM104GOPROG0549191.So, what would be your choice? Ideally, try both freediving and scuba diving! In my opinion, if you want to explore reef up to 15 meters deep – Freediving is a much better choice. But if you are planning to explore a dive site 25-30 meter deep, then it is easy to do with a scuba tank. If you are interested in underwater photography or videography, then again, having scuba tanks make your life easier. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy to be underwater and also combine it with a healthy lifestyle – Freediving is a better choice.

If you are interested in proper Freediving education click HERE 😉

Freediving problems. Part 1 (LMC/BO/SWB)

I usually ask my students, what do they think, is Freediving dangerous sport or not? And

Freediver in the pool

if it is a PADI Freediver course (first level in Freediving), more likely the answer is yes.

What do you think about it? Stop reading for a second and let me know your opinion in the comments section at the end of this article!

Done? Good!

Ok, let’s start with it – any activity is potentially dangerous. And I am not even talking about such activities as a base jumping or rock climbing. Walking on the busy street can be extremely dangerous, right?

However, if you follow the rules of this particular activity – risks can be dramatically minimized (don’t walk on a highway for example). And Freediving is not an exception. Follow simple safety rules and Freediving would be the safest water based activity!

But I would lie to you by saying that there are no risks in Freediving. Are they big? Let’s have a look.

It is going to be two parts about most common problems in Freediving.

First one about – LMC/BO/SWB

IMG_0511And second is going to be about lung squeeze, DCS/lung overexpansion/gas narcosis

 

Before we start – it is very unlikely that you are going to experience it on your Freediving course (especially on the first level – chances close to zero). But with the experience, you are going to be not that much distracted with a high level of CO2 (you still have contractions, but you are going to be more ok with them) and able to hold your breath longer and longer. And longer your breath hold is, less O2 it is going to be at the end of it. And less O2 you have more likely problems can happen.

Let’s say a Freediver decide to do his PB (personal best attempt). He is relaxed and enjoys his breath hold. At some point, contractions (involuntary movement of respiration muscles) will start. But he is still relaxed. He has them before and he is not freaked out, everything is under control. Contractions become harder and harder, but he is still holding his breath. At some moment, contractions became unbearable and Freediver comes up. But because the level of O2 reached the critical level, there is a chance of LMC (loss of motor control). What happens with this Freediver if he has an LMC?

20180201_074458He is still conscious; the heart is working, blood still circulating through the body. But the partial pressure of O2 is too low for normal functioning. He is not fainting, but close to it. Signs can be small (blue lips, light uncontrolled eyes or head movement), or big (body shaking and losing coordination). What happens when a freediver lose coordination while he is in the pool? Big problem…

And this is why your buddy is very important! Safety buddy is going to grab the Freediver, provide support, remove a mask from the face (or nose clip) and encourage him to breathe!

 

HOW TO AVOID LMC?

  1. No hyperventilation before any breath hold
  2. Don’t push too much (be moderate with your progress and don’t do big jumps in it)
  3. Secure support (float, pool’s edge, your buddy arm) after surfacing
  4. Proper recover breathing after stop holding.
  5. Don’t do PB’s if you are dehydrated, too tired, you haven’t slept well, it is your second training per day etc

AND NEVER FREEDIVE ALONE!

HOW TO DEAL WITH LMC?

  1. Support your buddy, making sure airways about the surface
  2. Remove mask/nose clip
  3. Encourage to do recovery breathing
  4. Be ready to deal with BO

DJI_0760_MomentIf you have an LMC, take it as a lesson, stop training for at least a day, analyze why it happened and don’t repeat the same mistake 😉

 

What is BO? In Freediving we call it a situation when Freediver lost his conscious due to hypoxia (insufficient supply of O2) during the long breath hold. There is a difference between hypoxia and anoxia – complete deprivation of O2 supply. Why it is important to understand this difference?

Anoxia is extremely dangerous because some of our tissues could not survive without O2 supply even a couple of minutes (brain as an example). During hypoxia there is still available O2, but not enough for normal body function. And the protective mechanism launched – Freediver experience blackout.

 

HOW TO AVOID BO?

  1. Don’t do hyperventilation
  2. Do recovery breathing after any breath hold
  3. Avoid pushing too much your limits (especially if you are a beginner)
  4. Don’t depend on the watch, if you feel that you need to stop – stop!
  5. Have enough time to recover between Freediving sessions
  6. Don’t train when you dehydrated

AND NEVER FREEDIVE ALONE!

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH BO?

  1. Learn rescue skills under professional supervision
  2. Practice these skills
  3. If your buddy has a BO – don’t panic, you can easily recover himDCIM100GOPROG0030109.JPG
  4. If you have a BO – stop your training for today
  5. If there is a chance that you inhale water – look for a medical checkup

 

As you know, BO happens when there is not enough O2 for normal buddy’s function (when a partial pressure of O2 below a certain level).

When we are diving, pressure changes very fast, compared to the surface. When we are only 10 meters deep, pressure increase twice (2 atm), 20 meters – three-time (3 atm) and so on. Same happens with the pressure of any gases in your body, include O2.

Deeper you go higher partial pressure of O2 you have.

But now you turned 😉 And while you are ascending, you are still burning down O2, but now also pressure decreasing. And on the last 10 meters, it is going down twice. And this is where the majority of SWB happens (some of them even on the surface).

 

swb2It is almost the same recommendations which I wrote about how to avoid BO! let’s repeat

  1. Don’t do hyperventilation
  2. Do recovery breathing after any breath hold
  3. Avoid pushing too much your limits (especially if you are a beginner), in case of SWB – don’t progress with depth too fast
  4. Don’t depend on the watch/depth, if you feel that you need to turn – turn!
  5. Have enough time to recover between Freedives (apply the rule, surface interval 3-4 longer then dive time or more conservative time)
  6. Limit the number of deep dives per session
  7. Don’t train when you dehydrated

AND AGAIN – NEVER FREEDIVE ALONE!

 

What to do if your buddy has SWB

  1. Reach the diver
  2. Grab him
  3. Bring to the surface
  4. Remove the weight belt if necessary
  5. Blow-tap-talk for 10 seconds
  6. 2 rescue breath and ask for help
  7. Start moving the diver to the boat/shore, providing 1 rescue breath every 5 seconds
  8. Remove from the water and start CPR