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