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.

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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!

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

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

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)

 

Nose clip for Freediving

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Hey guys!

As we all know Freediving requires less equipment than lets say scuba diving. But still need some. In the beginning of your Freediving journey simple set as Freediving mask, snorkel, and pair of fins more than enough.

But if you really want to bring it to the next level, few extra pieces of equipment will help you with that.

As an example – nose clip. Here is a short version of my review (full version, as usual on my YouTube channel – Crystal Freediving)

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

 

Australian National Record holder Amber Bourke!

We would like to introduce our today’s guest Amber Bourke, ex-World Champion, and multi-time Australian National record holder!

amber6Amber, thank you for finding time to reply some of our questions.

1. Amber, I know that you were a professional synchronized swimmer and even represent Australia at FINA World Championship in 2007. How you ended up in Freediving?

I actually injured my hip which kind or ended my synchro days. I tried out for the 2008 Olympics but missed out on a spot on the team and after that decided that it was time to move on.

2. You achieved a lot both in swimming and now in Freediving. Can you compare training approach in both sports?

Training is actually very similar. I definitely trained much longer hours as a amber8synchronized swimmer but with freediving I believe it’s more about quality over quantity.

3. Our huge congratulations on your great performance this year in CNF. Are you concentrating mainly on this discipline in your depth training?

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for CNF. I’m not sure why because breaststroke has always been my worst stroke. I think at the moment though I’m mostly focusing on it because my equalization is terrible and I haven’t been able to equalize deep enough to do decent CWT or FIM dives.

4. In 2015 you did 48 meters, 2016 – 58, 2017 – 68 (which is the new National Record!!!). Looks like you like number “8”. So, what to expect from you in 2018? 78 meters? 

amber2I actually didn’t realize that until you pointed it out. I really have to work on being less predictable! I think a lot of us freedivers subconsciously steer towards certain numbers. I don’t think of myself as a superstitious person but maybe I am! The number 8 just sounds so much better than 7 or 9…

5. What is a typical daily training routine for you? What kind of short/long term goals do you have now?

Up until this year, I’ve been working full time around training so I usually train in the pool 3-4 times after work during the week and then try to squeeze maybe some gym or yoga in during the week too. Then it is a matter of arriving at a destination with enough time before the competition to let your body adapt to the pressure and work on equalization. This year I took a gap year from work to travel and focus on freediving so that makes things a lot easier.

6. You also doing very well in a pool disciplines, actually you are 2017 Pool National Female Champion! So, what do you like to train more, pool or depth?

If it’s a choice between being in the ocean or being in a swimming pool every day I willamber5 always choose the ocean. However, I do enjoy training in the pool and sometimes it’s just more practical. In Brisbane where I live we don’t have easy access to depth like a lot of freedivers.

7. I saw a video on the YouTube (I think it is 2014), where you do DNF with no packing. Are you changed your approach since then or you still don’t pack?

I still don’t pack. Maybe one day I will but I always wanted to see how far I could get without packing and show new freedivers that there is a lot more you can learn to improve your freediving before you start packing.

8. Last year we all saw your amazing photo session with Ben Von Wong. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

amber7The Von Wong shoot was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve had in freediving. We were in these underwater caverns with sharks and I was wearing this crazy dress that was almost impossible to swim in. On top that the water wasn’t that warm and I was relying on a scuba diver for air. It was not easy but I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. I’d really like to participate in more of these projects in the future.

9. Freediving becoming more popular nowadays. What is your opinion about freediving development in the future?

I hope it becomes as popular if not more popular than scuba diving. The more people who freedive the easier it will be to find people to freedive with! I also hope that as freediving becomes more popular people will become more aware of the risks involved with holding your breath underwater and what to do in case of a hypoxic or shallow water blackout.

10. And at the end, what advice can you give to someone who just finished their first freediving course?

Find people to train with. The main reason I’ve stayed in the sport for so long is that I amber4have a great group of people back home that I train with and that keeps me looking forward to training each week.

Freediving German National record holder Timothy Oehmigen

Hey Timothy!

Our congratulations for you to become Freediving National Record holder for Germany in CWT on VB-2107! Thank you for finding some time to answer our questions and sharing your love for Freediving!

 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself (where you was born and grew up, at what age you started swimming, what hobby you had before start freediving)tim3

I am half German, half American. I grew up in Germany (south west part) close to Stuttgart, studied in Konstanz at Germany’s biggest and deepest lake (256m) and learned freediving there.  Swimming I started early at around 5-6 years. I always liked to be in the water, although I didn’t join any swimming club or so. During school and university, my biggest hobby was not sport related but more music related. I was fascinated by going to concerts and music festivals. I also have been working until today in the concert business as a booking manager for part time.

 

2. Do you remember when and how you tried Freediving for the first time? And why did you like it?

tim4I joined a beginner course in the lake of Konstanz. I could hold my breath 3 minutes and go to 20m and I realized fast how challenging this sport is, which I liked. I had lots of trouble with equalization though and I was not able to dive head first. As soon as I learned how to Frenzel, things got more serious. I had my first competition also in the lake and soon went for more and more competitions.

 

3. How did you come up with the idea to become a Freediving instructor? How did you manage to arrange your time between teaching and competing on such a high level?tim7

It was basically important for me to become an instructor to learn more about teaching. I found it interesting and I hoped to gain life experience from teaching and responsibility you have as an instructor in the water. At the same time, I realized that through teaching you can also learn a lot since you start reading more about freediving (due to students questions which you fail to answer) and on the other hand building your own teaching style. Of course, teaching and competing at the same time is hard, but it can be also a nice balance. After a few days of teaching, you really like to go deep again. And motivation is so important for deep diving. My best pre training + competition was actually my first national record with 91m free immersion. And exactly during that period, I had lots of courses. I used the day offs for training and each and every dive was nice, clean and a relaxed dive. 80m, 82m, 84m, 86m, 88m and then finally 91m.

 

4. Once again congratulations with NR for Germany (CWT 93 meters)! Are you looking forward to reaching magic 100 meters mark any soon? 😉 If yes, what it will mean for you?

tim2Of course, 100m is a nice number, but for me, it is also more important to be good in the other disciplines and do nice dives. If I can reach a 100m one time just by having a good run, it will not be worth it. I would like to hit a 100m and claim that I can do it again. But for this, my body and my mind need to be ready enough. At the moment it is not and that is important to know to remain on a healthy road towards success.

 

5. On VB-2017 you made an attempt of 67 CNF. What happened during this dive? Why did you decide to make an early turn? Are you looking for becoming NR in this discipline as well in the future?

I had argued with board colleagues from AIDA Germany which did not let me dive in peace. At the board, there is somebody who really tries to work against me and such battles are not a good place for a freedivers mind. But yes, I plan to dive deeper in CNF. I personally think that there I have great potentials since hypoxia is no topic for me and my technique looks okay. Actually, I just broke the NR with 67m a few days ago in a competition in Panglao, Philippines.

 

6. Coming back to training, are you splitting equally your time between different disciplines? Any pool or strength training?

I like to switch between the disciplines. All disciplines have their pros and cons. FIM is tim6relaxed and easy to equalize deep. Descend is the easiest for me. On the other hand, you need good apnea and a strong mind since you are deep and you only have the rope to get up. CWT is fast, you enjoy the speed and the power behind the monofin. On the other side, you need a good technique to not become lactic and to be able to keep the relaxation which is needed for deep equalization. CNF is physically hard and the detail is most important. On the other hand, it is not so deep and the numbers seem to be more double for the mind.

If I am in the water for training, I try to avoid work out. Nevertheless, I see work out also as an important part to remain strong. Especially when you are already getting skinny you can’t effort to lose the power you need for freediving. If I have a few days or weeks off from freediving, I like to train in the gym or at home to build up strength. Pool training is nice for technique and mental training.

 

7. I saw that you started crowd funding campaign to go to Freediving World Championship 2017. Wish you to reach this goal and hope our readers decide to support you! Can you say a couple of words why this is so important for you? (interview was taken a month ago, so Tim already manages to get enough money to go!!!)

tim5That is easy: Because it is very expensive to go there this year, especially when you are coming from Europe and also if you already attended Vertical Blue in that year. I do not have the money to go or if I would need to work and have no time for training. The announcement that the World Championship will take place in Roatan came quite late this time. So I decided to register for Vertical Blue and see if I can finance  Roatan somehow. I saw that other athlete already successfully funded themselves with crowd funding. On one hand I know it might not be so nice to ask for money, but on the other hand, I believe that those who support me really like to do that. I always feel happy to give support if I can and I want.

 

8. Did freediving become more popular in Germany since you have started practicing it?

I don’t know. I worked for a bit more than a year at the board at AIDA Germany, but the problem is that it is led mainly by bureaucrats who have no idea about freediving. Germany is, for example, the only country who still has lake records and it is also recognizing No Limit records. Media will not distinguish between a 100m No Limit and a 100m Constant Weight or a 130m DNF World Record (in the lake) or a real world record of 244m. What Germany needs is stories and a nice representation of the sport. Many people still believe that it is an extreme sport for adrenaline freaks. Some people take the advantage and sell themselves as such ones and simply misrepresent the sport. But there are also others who are invited into talk shows and give very nice examples for how nice freediving can be. I hope that especially competitive freediving can be more established.

 

9. Tell us about your personal Freediving plans and how you see freediving in the future in general?

I plan to take part in Honduras at the AIDA World Championship. I hope I can hit new tim1PBs there and I am also looking forward to this competition in general. Freediving becomes more and more popular for sure. With this, the freediving world faces a difficult task, which is making/keeping competitions safe and professional. At the last two World Championships of AIDA, there were huge and embarrassing mistakes happening, which in my personal opinion also happened due to arrogance by the judges and not listening to the athletes. I hope that those mistakes will not happen again and that the administration at AIDA will start working properly again.

 

Freediving National records’ breaker from Barbados, Alex Davis!

Hey, Alex!

Big congratulations for your outstanding performance on VB-2107! Thank you for finding some time to answer our questions!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself 

Thank you Sergey, I am originally from Cornwall in the UK and moved to Barbados inalex6 2011 with my wife. Growing up in a seaside town (Perranporth) I was always in the sea surfing, swimming, Jr life-saving club or fishing but the water is very cold and murky so I never really got into diving. When I moved to Barbados I found warm (28C) seas with visibility exceeding 30m on some days! I instantly got into spearfishing and the deep started calling me. I wanted to freedive deeper, stay longer, hunt better fish and it just went from there. In 2013 I set up ‘Spearfishing Barbados’ offering guided spearfishing tours around Barbados which have been growing every year. In 2015 I went to train with Vertical Blue (Jonathan Sunnex & Will Trubridge) where I completed my AIDA Instructor course and at the same time setting a PB of 62m with bi-fins. I opened Barbados’ first freediving school at the beginning of 2016 and run AIDA courses weekday and weekend all year round.

2. What about freediving? When and how you try it for the first time? And why did you like it?

alex5I got into spearfishing through a mutual friend who took me out and let me follow and watch. I remember diving down to 30ft and instantly turning and heading back for the surface! However, it was at this time I discovered I could equalize handsfree and spent as much time as possible freediving whenever I could. I really enjoy the peace and quiet you find when freediving and much prefer it to scuba. Being able to just walk down to the end of the road with fins and a mask and go diving for hours was an amazing experience each and every time.

3. How often do you train? What is your normal training routine?

Because of the spearfishing tours and freediving courses, I dive quite a bit already, anywhere from 3-7 days a week I am in the water freediving. In the lead up to VB, I supplemented my work schedule with pool training working on my monofin and no-fins technique as well as CO2 tolerance. Some days I would spearfish for 3 hours then go and do an hour or two at the pool in the evening working on just technique.alex2

Two great sessions I do in the pool are over/under – you swim 25m on the surface, touch the wall and then start 25m DYN, reach the other side and immediately go back to 25m on the surface. Another training session which helped was to perform a STA followed by DYN – 1-minute static then 50m DYN with short rests.

ALWAYS TRAIN WITH A BUDDY!

4. You showed very impressive results on all three depth disciplines! Do you split training time equally between them?

Thank you! In the lead up to VB I had 3 weeks at Deans Blue Hole and would dive FIM, CWT then CNF followed by a day of rest. I had spent a lot of time in the pool training for CWT and CNF so felt very strong diving to depth in those disciplines. 50m CNF was actually a PB for me, I had done 48m in training, about a week before which felt great so decided to round it off to 50m and I surfaced strong with lots of energy left for more. During training, I had progressed very well in CWT and FIM making small improvements every day. After each training session, I would go home, export the dive data from my watch and analyze my profile making sure my descent speed was correct and making notes on what felt good and what could be improved to take into the next session.

5. Why decide to compete in the first place? Are you going to do it again?

alex5After opening my freediving school I wanted to try my hand at a competition and also represent the country which I had made home for the last 6+yrs. There were no National Records for Barbados for men at this point so any white card performance would claim an NR, however I wanted to really give it my best shot and get white cards I would be proud of. Yes, I am scheduled to compete later this year at Blue Element 2017 in Dominica (October 13th – 21st) with my old Instructor Trainer Jonny Sunnex! My goals for this comp are to extend my CNF record and hopefully add a few more meters on to my CWT and FIM records.

6. It was your first competition, how you manage the stress? Or it was not stressful at all?

Yes, this was my first ever competition and I would say I was more stressed during training than I was during my official dives. During training you have to co-ordinate with other persons schedule so you will always have to compromise. When training you want to be respectful of everyone’s time so often take it in turns which means your warm ups usually take longer and by the time you do your target dive you may even be too alex4cold.

On competition days I would arrive at the Blue Hole at least 1hr before OT to check in and almost every day my resting heart rate was 100BPM! Haha! Once I got my suit on and clipped my lanyard to the warm up line however I was totally relaxed and actually my warm up dives where better/more relaxed than the ones during training. On the comp line during my countdown I breathed with my snorkel until 1min before OT which helped to tune out noises and other distractions with my eyes closed. I would then finish my breathe up vertically on the line, keeping my eyes closed and just listening to the announcer. On my very first dive of the comp (76m FIM) I was completely relaxed all the way to the bottom plate but once I had that tag in my hand all of the nerves finally caught up with me and my contractions started the moment I turned. The first dive was always going to be my hardest and after this one things got easier and more relaxed with each dive.

7. What do you think about VB? Anything what you think can be improved?

VB, as we all know, is one of [if not THE] top competition each year and the organization is absolutely spot on as well as the safety team being very professional and courteous. During the closing ceremony, Will even mentioned that throughout the entire competition there was not a single delay in the schedule which is a testament to the professionalism and organization of this event. Having not yet experienced any other competition I cannot really say if I think there is anything that can be improved but I think everyone at VB is on point.

8. Tell us about your future plans and how do you see freediving in the future?

alex3My plans moving forward are to continue growing my freediving school here in Barbados and attract more people to the island wanting to learn, both from around the Caribbean and all over the globe. I have already had students come over from nearby islands to train as well as going myself to Grenada earlier this year to teach a group of avid divers and spearos so the sport of Freediving is definitely on the up! I think more people are going to move from scuba to freediving as time goes on as well as people who just really enjoy snorkeling wanting to learn more about freediving and improve their ability and enjoyment underwater. We also actively promote the hunting of Lion fish and regularly give talks in Barbados informing people about this invasive species and why we need more freedivers out there removing them – and eating them!

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