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

5 Rules for snorkelers

“Rules for snorkelers? I thought there are no rules!”

AdventuresOk, snorkeling is a natural activity for us humans (especially after we invented a mask) and everyone can do it without any education.

But as usual, if you want to do something safer – you should learn how.

And let me help you with that by sharing five safety rules for snorkelers!

Below is a short version, full version, as usual on my YouTube channel – Crystal Freediving 😉