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

Everything that you need to know about MDR (Mammalian Dive Reflex) in Freediving

First of all the term, Mammalian Dive Reflex is a little bit misleading term since not only mammals have it. So, let’s call it Dive Reflex or Dive Response or just DR 😉

Doesn’t matter, you are complete beginners or you already Freediving Instructor, Dive Reflex is your best friend!

A bit of history. Many years ago one French doctor made a statement that man could not dive deeper than 50 meters because the thoracic cavity is going to be crushed (some sources say 30-40 meters). Why? Because every 10 meters pressure increasing with 1 atm and when you are 50 meters surrounding pressure already 6 atm. And it is huge. But back to those time, no one was even trying to do it (ok, there a couple of exceptions). But in 1961 Enzo Maiorca dived to this depth and survive! Why? Because of the blood shift! And blood shift is a part of DR!

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1302.JPGDR is activated when our face is cooled (by cold water for example) or when we hold our breath. When we do both – even better!

This reflex helps us to hold our breath longer and dive deeper! How? By:

  1. Apnea
  2. Bradycardia
  3. Peripheral vasoconstriction and blood shift
  4. Spleen contraction

1. DR is responsible for spontaneous activation of Apnea. If we place infant underwater (don’t ask me why) their windpipe would spontaneously close (by vocal cords) and this prevents water from entering the lungs. This reflex quite strong upon 6 months and then start to disappear. My assumption – around this age baby start learning how to crawl and probably decide that Dive Reflex is not that important for them! Does it happen because of our genetic memories of our aquatic past or because nine months before birth our natural environment is liquid? Who knows 😉

2. DR causing bradycardia – slowing your heart rate (HR). Quite common is 10-30 % DCIM102GOPROGOPR0029.JPGreduction of HR for Freedivers (up to 50% or more in highly trained athletes). There are stories with even more impressive results, but let’s skip them now. Sounds impressive? How about this – laboratory rats have 80% decreases in HR while submerged underwater!!

Bradycardia is usually followed by tachycardia (increase in HR) after breath hold is over.

Why bradycardia is important for Freediver? Well, it is a protective mechanism of our body, it decreases O2 consumption, which means we can hold our breath hold longer without risk of losing the conscious! It also compensates the result of peripheral vasoconstriction effect (which cause increased blood pressure)

3. Next benefit of DR is a peripheral vasoconstriction and blood shift

Back to 1974 study showed that during dives to 40-60 meters, the amount of blood in the thorax (chest cavity) increased more than twice! And this reflex was called (pretty obviously) blood shift.

DCIM102GOPROG0053175.JPGPeripheral vasoconstriction (PV) is a narrowing of the blood vessels to reduce blood flow to non-vital organs (such as skin or inactive muscles, for example) ensuring that oxygen-sensitive organs like the brain or heart receive enough O2 for normal function. In another word PV is a redistribution of blood to vital organs from peripheral organs. PV also induces anaerobic metabolism, with an increase in lactic acid as a by-product. Interesting that the release of lactic acid into the bloodstream doesn’t occur (or at least significantly reduced) until Freediver resurface (at least this is what experiments on laboratory rats show).

For all of the above, you can say that blood shift (BS) happens (blood moves from non-vital organs to vital organs) when PV happens, but quite common Freedivers are using the term BS when describing the movement of the blood to the chest cavity to protect it from increasing pressure while diving deep.

Due to PV certain amount of blood pushed to the lungs, the capillaries in the lungs receive a greater blood flow and increase in size, compensating for space lost in the lungs due to increasing of ambient pressure. The lungs become filled up with the blood, which is reabsorbed when Freediver ascending.

IMPORTANT! Blood shift not pushing the blood into alveoli! It pushes it into capillaries around alveoli!

Why PV is very important for Freedivers? Well, it helps to move O2 from organs which can survive longer without it, to organs which are in constant demand of O2. So, it helps us to hold our breath longer and dive deeper (by moving blood to the chest cavity).

4. And the last but not least benefit of DR is the spleen contraction. Spleen in the human body has two main functions – mechanical filtration of red blood cells (RBC) and as a part of the immune system. We are interested in the first function. About 240 ml of RBC’s can be held in the spleen and released when needed (due to hypoxia for example). When the contraction of the spleen happens oxygen-rich RBC’s gradually start their journey to circulatory system increasing O2 carry capacity of our blood (and helping us to hold our breath longer).

Interesting that spleen not recovering fast, even after an hour it is only partially recovered (however there are studies which show that spleen can be fully recovered in size in less than 20 minutes).

5. This is not a benefit, but still part of DR. Immersion diuresis. Yes, this is an explanation DCIM102GOPROG0022614.JPGwhy while Freediving you want to pee much often! As you know part of DR is PV and it causes increased blood flow to the torso area and increased blood pressure as a result. Our body detects it and releases a specific hormone responsible for liquid regulations, which increase urine production. Don’t be embarrassed because of it! But make sure that this reflex doesn’t make you dyhadrated (drink enough before and after Freediving session).

6. Another side effect of DR is faster muscles fatigue. And again you can blame PV. When PV happens and blood moves away from your muscles, they start to work in an anaerobic way and produce more lactic. And even after you finish apnea, the effect does not disappear quickly (depends how long and intense your apnea was). Do you need proof? Try to do DYN bi fins 100 meters and 100 meters surface swim (with the same fins) and compare how do you feel.

 

If you have any question about Freediving, let me know in comments below!

 

 

 

 

How to hold your breath

The basic skill which you learn on your first Freediving course is, of course, how to hold your breath! This Freediving discipline requires a minimum of Freediving equipment!!

A lot of my students, when I ask them, how long they can do it, answering – 30-40 seconds. And then in 10 minutes, they can hold for 1.5-2 minutes! Magic? Not really 😉 Simply understanding how to do it correctly, what happens in the organism during static breath hold – helps that much!

Watch how our student does it for the first time! Interesting to try? Come to Koh Tao (Thailand) and we going to be more than happy do Freediving course with you!

Equalization for Freediving

Hey guys!

Common question: If I am planning to do Freediving course soon, do I need to somehow prepare for it?

Answer – YES

😉

And one of the thing which you can learn even before you sign up for your first Freediving course is how to equalize your ears!

It will rise chances that you will pass this course without any problem

How to learn it? Watch the tutorial on my YouTube channel (and a few videos how to sorted out equalization problem, if you have them)

 

Freediving vlog

Ok, it was a long time ago when I decide that I want to do Freediving blog. But writing in English is difficult. And after finish my first blog I was correcting it again and again until I just deleted it 🙂 Apparently with video it much easy since you posted – IT IS DONE!

That’s why the transition from blog to vlog was logical. And here we go, I am a vlogger on a YouTube! 😉

It is not the first episode, but since now I am going to post here a short version of it here. Hope you, my reader, will enjoy it!

If you are interested and want to see full version, find my channel on YouTube – Crystal Freediving

 

Thailand National record holder in Freediving (FIM) Komtanoo Pinpimai

1. Do you remember how and when did you find out about freediving? What made you to start freediving? What were your 1st steps in this sport?

While visiting Koh Tao for the party scene I watched video on the screen of a freedive shop about a guy holding breath underwater. Later I found out it was the famous “weightless emotional freediving” clip on youtube. I kept freediving in my list for a couple of years until went snorkeling in Maui, saw magical things, and decided to take a step forward.15230716_10154126349159849_3700393935683466749_n

2. What is your favourite discipline in freediving and which one you don’t like? And could you explain why?

I haven’t really done anything besides free immersion and constant weight. I do prefer the former as it’s easy on contraction. I haven’t got a chance to work in pool, but I can’t imagine I would love them much.

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 think consistency is the key. On Koh Tao I had been diving for 5 weeks almost every day, went to Bali for two months doing the same, depth then came easy. It would take me a lot longer if I could only do it on weekends or holidays. Same thing applies to stretching exercises, like dry packing or reverse packing. I think one has to do them consistently for months to see noticeable changes. Same for breath holding, I heard it should be practiced in long sessions, quite frequent to see improvement.

4. And how often do you try something new in your freediving trainings?

12360088_10208056443627294_2946895678687399642_nNobody has figured freediving all out. We only have some ideas of how human can dive. Scientists were too busy going to Mars, trying to understand DNA, making bombs and whatnot. Not many have worked over freediving issues. So we, as freedivers, are the first frontiers volunteering to tackle the mystery by experimenting with our bodies and minds. So yes, I like to question everything I hear and test it on myself before accept or cross it out. Because more often than not, what works for one does not work for others.

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?

I don’t think about it as about training. In fact, I even don’t like this word. Freediving motivates me to travel, and in turn, traveling motivates me to freediving.15085733_879232632212280_5287135109469647576_n

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?

It might had happened to some people, otherwise we would have never heard about it. If you find yourself allergic to something, it’s interesting to go through some experiments like how much it takes, how long it will last or what about keep consuming them for a couple years to see if your immunity improves. For diet, I loosely follow the guideline of hippie and yogi communities. You know, a lot of veggies and fruits. Drink a lot of water, kombucha, kefir. Avoid artificial substances, fried stuff, preservatives, gmo, pretty much everything what Americans love. But when I dive I eat a lot before and after session. As far as I mentioned, if I eat light for a max dive, or long hard session, it’s likely that I will go into LMC or feel it coming.

7. Let’s talk about money 🙂 Do you have any support from sports community of your country or may be some trade brand?

11140030_10153347413196229_7685488548639477533_nI wish. Freediving is not expensive by definition. I try to live cheap and dive cheap.

8. What about your targets in freediving? What would you like to achieve and how deep would you like to get?

I don’t have some measurable goals like that. I just hope to be able to do it as long as I could. Although it will be nice to tap into some ocean expeditions. I saw swimming with wild aquatic creatures only on the Discovery channel.

9. What do you do except freediving? Do you have any hobbies?

I have participated in many activities in the past. Now I have to cut them down to freediving and whitewater/ocean wave playboating which get along really well while traveling.13512051_10153698614959849_7309470111188644712_n

10. What would you advise to people, who just discovered this sport?

Just like any other skills, be patient and a little dedicated, keep it fun.

 

Sign up for our blog and find inspiration from the Freedivers from all around the world!!

Freediving team USA captain Tom Gilmore about Freediving.

1. Do you remember how and when did you find out about freediving? What made you to start freediving? What were your 1st steps in this sport? gilmore2

I found out about freediving first when my friend and the pool manager, Will Spivey, at my local pool,  the Panama City Beach  Aquatic Center, told me he was taking a course.  We discussed it briefly but I did not give it so much thought after that. About a year later I was to take a business trip to Hawaii and made the commitment to advance my Scuba certifications while I was in Hawaii as quickly as possible. I finished Advanced and Rescue Diver certifications. Rescue diver certification changed my outlook on diving from inward to outward to learn to watch out for the other divers who may be less capable. Upon my return to Panama City Beach, I continued to advance my certifications with my favorite local shop Dive Locker. Within six months of leaving for Hawaii I became a PADI certified Divemaster.

Becoming a professional Divemaster was what led me to freediving. I started working the dive boat taking out charters and watching over the people. At Dive Locker and with most of the dive charters in the area we do out of water supervision. I found this boring and started to freedive to about 20 meters to watch the divers and check about their safety.  I found it a lot of fun but a friend warned me that this was dangerous.

Following some further research I decided my friend was right and I decided to get certified.  I found a course taught by Kirk Krack in Fort Lauderdale and told my daughter Meghan about it. Meghan said, “I want to do that”. So I enrolled us both and we took our first course in 2013 and both finished well.  We were hooked.  Shortly after we enrolled in Advanced and Safety Supervisor Training and I became an Instructor as well learning in Kona, Hawaii.  One of the most wonderful places to dive I have been ever and since. My last day in instructor training we saw a mother and a calf Humpback swim underneath us to tour the bay and eyeball the tourists and the Instructor class.

2. What is your favourite discipline in freediving and which one you don’t like? And could you explain why?

My favorite discipline is no-fins. I like it best because it is difficult and the best workout.  The other reason I enjoy it is because you can pack the least amount of dive gear. I love to train in no fins in the freshwater springs that we have in the North Florida Panhandle area.   I feel so lightweight.  I to be way underweighted and power down to neutral buoyancy. Then a couple of armpulls and you are flying back to the surface. Super fun!

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?

Currently I am training every day in the pool. I try to go in the afternoon when the sun is out and the temperature is the warmest. It works best with my schedule. This may change as I have a new job which is going to place some demands on my time. I am hopeful the noontime training time is still available to me.

I could not say enough about the beauty of the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center and the support staff. They are awesome. The water is always clear and warm and beautiful to swim in.

I grew up as a competitive swimmer and have kept it up ever since.   Without being in the pool I don’t really feel right. I love how swimming clears your head (mind and sinus).gilmore3

I love to do fin training in the pool and do a lot of underwater kicking. I also love to do drills where I mix up swimming with vertical diving to the bottom of the pool. I like to do sets with 2 dives to 3m (max depth in our pool) per 25 yards. I also enjoy no fin drills and love to invent new things to do. My plan is to share some video of some of these training sets with the freedive community internationally.

4. And how often do you try something new in your freediving trainings?

I usually do something new every day but its a lot of times repeat of old things or new mixtures or new orders. I always start out with 500 yards swimming or more. I also never get tired of underwater backstroke kick with fins.

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?

I have been swimming so long I just don’t feel good unless I get into the pool. Its basically a makeup of my psychology and physiology now. I am 57 years old and have been swimming since I was six. Pool training is my thing because I can do it alone. I work my sets alone and don’t push breathing to contractions. I always surface before contractions.

Ocean training is hard for me because we don’t have many buddies available. That is why I became an instructor. I have trained several to be buddies in the area but we are still a small group and most of my students don’t love the pool training as much as I do.

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?

I follow a strict diet for health reasons and learned it works for diving.  I don’t eat hardly any meat. Mostly salads and pasta or beans and rice. Occasionally I will splurge on a pizza.  I read that we all have cancer cells in us and malignancy occurs when the cells grow out of control. I leaned that cancer cells love mucous as the mucous protects cancer cells from antibodies. Mucous is produced by cheese. Mucous also makes it more difficult to equalize when it is thick and sticky,  I don’t each much cheese at all. Sometimes a little parmesan with my pasta.   I learned cancer cells love lots of protein especially from meat. This helps them develop thick cell walls to protect them against antibodies that get through the mucous.  Lastly I don’t eat any refined sugar or deserts (sometimes chocolate cookies, nobody is perfect). Sugar helps cancer cells divide and grow more rapidly.

These things I learned about cancer cells may be wrong as I am not a physician, just a little bit of an engineer.

7. Let’s talk about money. J Do you have any support from sports community of your country or may be some trade brand?

In the USA support is not very much and not very well coordinated. I took it as a personal responsibility to promote Team USA as Captain for 2016 World Championships. We raised a little bit of money for the event but only about 20% of the expenses. Some of the team members did their own fundraising efforts which helped them and was perhaps more successful.  We had no corporate sponsors. My goal is to do much better for 2018. My trade brand is in its infancy and mostly for the freedive instructor business which is still very small. gilmore

In the US freediving is getting more popular as a participant sport but not as one where people are enthusiastically following the countries athletes as in other countries like Japan and maybe Russia. I only can guess about those countries as the leaders facebook feeds are full and friend requests are not possible, only to friend those athletes.

I want to give back to the sport by helping the US following grow to be more like some of the other countries.

8. What about your targets in freediving? What would you like to achieve and how deep would you like to get?

I would like to be a 100 meter diver one day. IT is difficult as deep water is 25 miles offshore in the Gulf Coast of the USA. I would have to travel to Hawaii really to train for deep diving.  Perhaps Cayman Islands which has a growing community of freedivers.  My teammate Kurt Randolph I believe will soon be a 100m diver.

I would like to break the static American record to have all three pool records. But these are secondary goals to becoming a better athlete, staying in shape, staying healthy and being a good example to younger athletes as to what is possible.

9. What do you do except freediving? Do you have any hobbies?

I swim and enjoy the water with my dogs. I work a lot and read a lot. I am always trying to learn new things and improve my attitude. I am always trying to learn more in Computer Science and Cybersecurity. I have projects in real estate, and new ones in aquaculture and hydroponics in the workings. I hope to spend more time with my granddaughter. And of course mostly I love teaching a freedive class whenever I can.

10. What would you advise to people, who just discovered this sport?

Please get certified,  Don’t try to save money  and learn on your own without professional training. The professionals are always learning and improving their game. If you are certified consider becoming an instructor. I put up a post about US Navy divers doing breathhold training in the pool and doing it wrong. (Side by side, both divers underwater at the same time.) Two US Navy Seals died last year in a pool in Virginia that way. I always confront those noobs and tell them get certified. Learn how to be a good safety. People who don’t know what they are doing are getting pools closed off to athletes who want to train correctly in the US. The US is a very litigious society which is why hardly any pools have 3m diving boards (platform diving) in the US. gilmore4

Never dive alone. Also certified professionals get sloppy sometimes especially when fishing is involved. Someone always needs to step up and get everybody to follow protocol and discuss dive plans. Communication is the key especially when poor visibility is involved. Kelp on the surface makes it even more difficult. That’s why good communication and using a line and a float are a must in my opinion.

 

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100 meters deep Freediver and former World Record holder (CNF) Michal Risian

1. Do you remember how and when did you find out about freediving? What made you to start freediving? What were your 1st steps in this sport?mich1

First time I saw freediving in 1999 on TV. There was very short spot about I guess Australian guy who was trying to brake DYN record. He swam around 190 m and had black out. I thought to myself, that it must be dangerous and that freediviers are freaks and I could never do this . In 2007 I read again article about freediving in one scuba diving magazine and this led me to try a basic weekend freediving course and again I had very mixed impression about freediving, but I kept trying that and later I sold my scuba equipment and kept diving only this way. I did not plan to compete in any sport because I used to compete in swimming when I was a child and spent a lot of time in pools. But I was improving very fast so I tried 🙂 mich5

2. What is your favourite discipline in freediving and which one you don’t like? And could you explain why?

I like CNF the most, because I like outdoor depth disciplines and I find this discipline the most natural and the most pure, dependent only on freediviers body.

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 used to train more often. Last two years I am busier with my job and family so I use to train max 3 times a week and about 5-6 times a week during competition period and 2-3 months before the main competition. During the year I do not do too specific trainings, I do fitness, running and once a week pool training or outdoor snorkeling.

mich2 I have a mixed approach. I have been trying to keep the fixed schedule, but I listen to my body and lately I need to adjust my schedule to job and family and other parts of life 🙂

4. And how often do you try something new in your freediving trainings?

I try to make every training special in some way. I can do same excercises, but I try to change number of repetitions, time for breath up, and I do it as a like and as I feel that certain day.

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?

I like the sea. I do my hard training a limited period of the year. And when there is time for that, I like it. If I should do it every year maybe I would lose passion for that, but when it is only part of the year it is fun.

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?

I believe it can affect equalization. But I am not so strict to my diet and I eat mostly what I like 🙂

7. Let’s talk about money 🙂 Do you have any support from sports community of your country or may be some trade brand?

Last 3 years it is better and Czech representatives have some money from the association of Czech divers, from government, we have also material support from some producers of diving equipment e.g. Salvimar and some divers get personal ways of sponsorship.mich3

8. What about your targets in freediving? What would you like to achieve and how deep would you like to get?

I have no specific numbers. I like to dive 80+ meters in CNF once more and I want to master equalization techniques so I could achieve my real limits in CNF. My PB in CWT 103m is far from my physical limits.

9. What do you do except freediving? Do you have any hobbies?

Freediving is nothing more than one of my hobbies. Other hobby is painting (look here MOJE_OBRAZY), tasting good wines and my family 🙂

10. What would you advise to people, who just discovered this sport?

I would advise to be patient when something is hard to achieve, limits are only in our heads, furthermore not to push hard without thinking and enjoy diving with emphasis on safety and with respect to nature…

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