How I lost my way …

There are some days before a competition when nothing is going the way you want it to, but you try to persuade yourself that everything will be fine…the ego maybe…

Last week, I experienced my first LMC during competition attempting 100m FIM. I started questioning myself and the conclusion is that I had lost my way… I lost my own approach of Freediving which made depth so enjoyable and easy at the same time. I wanted to share this experience with you…

Even though I go deep, I am quite new to Freediving as I started a bit less than 3 years ago.

My first year of freediving was a blessing, it was a lot of fun, and luckily for me everything came very easily – Equalization, flexibility.

I stayed in Koh Tao for a few months where the bottom depth is limited to 40m. Consequently, and fortunately, I was forced to allow time for my body to adapt. Through many dives to 40m and, regular stretching, it meant it was easier and safer when I eventually got access to more depth.

After Koh Tao, I started travelling and training in different places.

Bali, with Julia Mouce (alias Patita – Apnea Bali is a great place to train!!!). She is an awesome coach.  In addition to giving me confidence for depth she also taught me the practice of patience in the pursuit for depth. I thank her for that

Then I continued training for 6 months in the Philippines with my friend Sura. We didn’t really have deep divers around to provide advice so we had to develop our own approach, based on feelings and pleasure. The simple enjoyment was always the point of the session, and with continuous and consistent practice, I was able to go deeper and started reaching 85m.

A competition was organized on the island and we decide to participate. It was more the opportunity to meet other freedivers than to make a personal performance. So I announced 80m – As I had managed to do it around 30-40 times in a comfortable manner and even managed to go deeper – I thought it was a reasonable choice (even though you might find it a bit conservative)

This experience was just magical and I decided to keep the same approach for all my competitions including the World Championship and Triple Depth. This approach was great! It felt like everything was easy, smooth and going perfectly… and it definitely was.

I had nothing to prove to anyone. I just enjoyed going deep in training for myself.

At that time, competition was a way to learn from more experienced freedivers and meet new friends.

10 months ago, I took over a Freediving school in the Philippines – Freedive HQ in Cebu. As you can imagine, in comparison to the previous two years of travelling and training, I now had less time for my own diving, lots of work, lots of stress – The usual pitfalls of running a center successfully!

I started thinking that performing in competition would help to develop Freedive HQ (not totally untrue). But then my motivation to compete was to achieve a performance instead of doing it for my own pleasure and not being attached to the results.

With the school, I had to change training buddy and lacking my friend Sura’s wisdom (who doesn’t care about how deep I have been. I can always rely on her to set me straight when I need it), I began chasing numbers in my training and put aside the  sensation and enjoyment. Don’t misunderstand me, I was still enjoying my dives, but the purpose was not the same anymore. But I started to lose sight of how satisfying it can be to develop my own freediving center. I was just stuck in my ego and wanted to be recognized by the freediving community

I had forgotten where I had come from. 2 years ago, I wouldn’t even have dreamed of reaching 100m one day or getting my own freedive school! Instead of enjoying the here and now, I was stressing about what I should do in the future.

Despite this pressure, I still managed during my training to do some good progress and went deeper to 100m. Still, I went there in a less consistent way, than I used to previously go to 90m the year before.

Before reaching  90m, I probably did at least 35 dives to 80m or deeper.

Before reaching 100m, I did maybe 5 dives deeper than 90m. I started to believe that since they were so easily done, it would be the same for 100m. Indeed, in training, it went pretty well. But I overestimated myself, thinking I could do it in competition despite the stress and this “sacred” 100m which had become an objective in itself.

The competition

I am feeling pretty good on both warms up.  A nice first hang at 10m for 3.30-4min – waiting for my first contraction and coming back up slowly (around 30s on the way up). I was feeling good, relaxed. Then, I went for a very slow dive to 40m (dive time around 3:45s).

Here we are!! I am at the buoy and doing my breathe up. I Hear the 2 min countdown, I feel good and I am perfectly synchronized with the timing. I start smiling to help relax and get prepared for my last breath. No packing.

Official top!  I start going down and flood my hood to avoid a squeeze. I have always been too lazy to make holes in my hood. At 25m, I am still feeling great. I take my mouthfill and my pulls become easier and easier until I reach 45m where I start my freefall. I feel good all the way down and don’t notice any current as I am more focused on this “100” than on my own sensations.

I make it to 100m, get the tag! Yes this part is done! Time to come up, a few pulls with the tag still in my hand. I was probably a bit narcosed as it took me a little while to realize it would be wiser to stick it to my Velcro and have both my hands perfectly free in FIM (as I usually do…)

I keep pulling up and after a while I hear the safety scooter. I should be around 50m… I am on the way to making it!!!  I see my friend Lily Crespy doing the second safety around 25m. I feel safe. Last 10m, it starts feeling a bit long when the rest of the dive had felt quite fast…I am probably hypoxic. I make it to the surface and grab the rope. Then… I don’t really remember. Apparently, it took me 16-17 sec to do my surface protocol, but I needed support from the safety as you can see on the video. All I remember is asking the judges “Did I make it in less than 15s ?” — The expressions on their faces were priceless. They appeared uneasy having to disappoint me with a red card. On the contrary, I was still confused so I was actually very accepting of it. It will actually be an amusing memory.

It was definitely a great learning experience. I am leaving this competition stronger, but more importantly It made me find my way back to my original freediving path.

I cannot say how much I feel grateful to have received so much support from so many people. A special thank you to Julia who spent her time reassuring me til the last moment, to my friend Lily who is always here to support me and cheer me up and to Stefan for organizing all these amazing competitions.

Double K and its awesome equipment are also a huge support. They never put any pressure on me and just let me do my dives. Thank you Jun my friend.

It can seem trivial to make such statements, but no one is safe from losing their way. Always remember why you freedive and go for the pleasure. If you do, it will always be fine

“Freediving and Flow” or “How Freediving can make you happy!!!”

Freediving is not all about risks and extreme performances or even watching marine life …. Freediving and extreme sports in general make you happy …. All due to Flow ….

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in what he is doing. Remember last time you arrived at the bottom plate without even noticing it, wondering how time flew by so fast?

Time perception is different, the dive feels effortless and the productivity is optimal. The well-being is instantaneous. Flow is reached mostly in activities and sports where risks is involved, requiring an intense focus to fulfill the action. Therefore, Flow is inherent to extreme sports such as base-jumping, Highline, rock climbing … but also to freediving.

Flow was first studied and named by a psychologist from Hungary, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. According to him, Flow is a way to reach happiness and that’s why those who experienced it just keep going. The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi may have been the first to describe this concept in Western psychology, he was most certainly not the first to quantify the concept of Flow. Eastern spiritual practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Sufism have developed a very thorough and holistic set of theories around overcoming duality of self and objects which is very similar to what you experience while practicing extreme sports

Taoism

More recently some studies were conducted on Slackline practice (this line you set up between two points to walk and jump on it) in the French Alps by two researchers from Nice University, Marion Fournier and Rémi Radel. This study, helped demonstrating the principles of Flow:

Slackline

Flow is a kind of trance you enter, similar to the one the Buddhist monks experience. This quasi meditative state, makes the surroundings and the worries fade, giving another perception of the time. One minute is only a moment that passes with no beginning and no end as we perform the action. Therefore, 10 minutes spent on the slackline can feel like an instant or one hour. Same with your dive, 30 seconds or more of freefall can feel like a heartbeat.

In Flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The focus is on the action. A feeling of transcendence takes over and you find your inner peace. Nothing matters anymore but the action, without particular awareness of this phenomena. It is a kind of escape from reality (but in a positive way in opposition of a destructive escape that you can experience by taking some drugs).

The Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, explained: “I was already on pole, […] and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my team mate with the same car. And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel”

Does that sound familiar to you? Did you ever experienced what some refer as a perfect dive, even on a PB attempt or a challenging dive which felt soooooo easy? You might have just experienced Flow

To Conclude, the “Flow sports” allow us to escape worries and concerns, to live fully but healthily, so just keep practicing Freediving and other Flow sports such as slackline and rock climbing. It is good not only for your body but for your mind.

Sources :

Sciences et Avenir,

Mihaly Csikszentmihályi (1990), Flow : The psychology of optimal experience

Young, Janet A. & Pain, Michelle D. “The Zone: Evidence of a Universal Phenomenon for Athletes Across Sports”

 

Freediving The Myths 2.0 – “The Packing Truth”

 FREEDIVING the Myths! 2.0 – The Packing Truth –

DCIM101GOPRO

This subject is a great one, the subject matter is as funny as it is serious & will be sure to fire up the emotive Freediving reader, and that is very welcome, as this is for the Freedivers, The recreational, the spearo, the competitive, the .com freedivers, the face book athlete Freedivers, the instructors, the agencies and the internet freedivers alike.

First of all the main intention here is to give some simple and good advice, if you are packing for Freediving, or teaching / recommending packing for Freediving, you are doing it wrong.

the author Attempting packing!!

the author Attempting packing!!

You can be an amazing successful freediver without it!

Change is a good thing, it usually results in the evolution of something more successful, I feel it’s almost a responsibility to challenge the Myth about packing, personally I find it comical that many still believe the current and future success to freediving is based on who can vigorously pack the most air into their lungs. I always wondered how packing even got to the point of conformity, but if we look at humans and natural behavior, we see that in many sports and activities, if people do not have a good understanding in the first place, then they will start to imitate each other, hence the monkey see monkey do epidemic of packing that we currently see in Freediving, in fact many freedivers out there still hold the opinion that packing is a good thing.

Bertrand Russell was quoted-

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatsoever that it is not utterly absurd.

I am certain for some this will be enlightening and possibly for a few it could even be insulting, but lets be honest and talk directly, out there in the real world some freediving Instructors really are still teaching it to their students, many a Freediver and YouTube Freediver is seen packing before their glory dive so it’s a widespread very visible practice.

claude verlind the over inflated man

The over inflated man by Claude Verlind

If you happen to be a packer please do not take this as an attack, as humans we tend to take advice with a degree of defiance and hey that’s ok, let me start from the beginning and fill the gaps.

My objectives are straightforward and unsophisticated, To empower as many Freedivers as possible to be able to remember the laundry list of disadvantages of packing, to bust the many myths associated, and for Freedivers to be able to understand that its not just my opinion here, there is science backing me up, we can relate Boyles law in relation to unnecessary packing for Equalization.

A simple message, that yes you can ultimately become the awesome freediver you always were without packing, this is important for newcomers who are receiving incorrect information from sources that may end up putting them in a confusing mindset, and or learning incorrect practices and forming bad / dangerous habits where they may end up just doing the easiest thing which is to mimic what they see.

Packing – what is it?

Packing is an old school Freediving technique and thought process, there was a time when Freedivers believed the more air they inhale and pack into the lungs the deeper and further they can go.

Shortly after taking a natural full breath the packing freediver then starts the secondary process of packing more air into the lungs using a technique of sucking the air into the mouth then forcing it into the lungs via a swallowing type movement, thereby overinflating the lungs past the natural total lung capacity.

Girl packed

Packing has become an almost ubiquitous freediving epidemic, a barrage of air gulping carpomaniacs litter the Worlds Freediving hotspots, some I have observed first hand to pack air for up to and over a minute or more before holding their breath, and some are doing it before relatively shallow dives.

The most common reason / excuse for packing = Equalization / more time and depth, myself and many others share the opinion this is simply incorrect. As we have seen from other Freedivers who do not use it and still mange great depths of 100 mtrs depth, distances over 200 mtrs and times over 8 + mins in the pool, in fact some have found success with the complete opposite and exhale before they Freedive.

As an example and story tie in – many other mammals on planet earth who freedive are found to exhale before they descend with great success, that’s right, the seals and whales breathe out then descend, now we humans are a totally different species so lets not get carried away with a whale of a freediving fantasy just yet, the physiology of seals & whales is very different from our own, our lungs do not collapse then expand very well at all, in fact we still know very little about what exactly happens within the lungs when we Freedive Deep, what we do know is there is very dire consequences for the person who is doing it wrong, therefore there exists a responsibility for those of us within the industry to make sure everybody gets the right advice and is doing it right and having a good time, as safely as possible!

Could it be very simple? That packing is completely unnecessary? have any of the packers actually tried to train without it? For long enough to acquire a result? Unfortunately most likely not, you see, a very normal human characteristic is to lack the patience to start again and refine the skills, going back to the drawing board requires a big commitment, theoretically to some the easy option is to pack more air and cheat the EQ skills to some degree, but in reality what actually happen is the complete opposite, instead of gains the packer can unintentionally be putting up barriers to success, limiting potential and maximizing danger, these barriers create risks of Lung expansion injury, DCS, Cerebral Arterial Gas Embolism, collapsed lung, and lung squeeze at depth, which now days armed with more information and knowledge we have seen common links between these maladies and packing.

One of my own many opinions on this subject is that packing can be a sign of nerves, a lack of confidence, & there is nothing wrong with that, when we challenge something new we use many techniques to overcome nerves, I notice a similar behavior in beginners to Freediving, Some will try and inhale to forcefully until they almost shudder, convinced they will succeed and survive with more air, I guess its only human, but this is far from the reality.

If you were to just relax and take a breath you will find far more success, so it brings us back to the packing.

Delicate lung tissue

Delicate lung tissue

If you are very confident with a depth or time or distance then do you really need to pack air? Why do you do it? Ask yourself, lack of confidence can be the first answer to pop up with many people, is it that packers are essentially taking what they perceive as an insurance policy with them? a little extra air for when they can no longer equalize properly, was it that they never put in the time to correct their EQ mistakes in the first place?, could it be they pack more air as they really don’t feel confidence with their depth or time as they are way beyond their limits of self-assurance, or simply packing as they have been doing it for so long that they cannot feel the same confidence without it, an addiction of sorts. Many questions! So lets look at some answers

One fellow recently stated to me “I only pack a small amount”, my reply was a question “ then why bother at all”? The answer was, “I just feel more confident with more air”, this strengthens my opinion that packers can carry a Lack of confidence, which really is a root problem that needs addressing when we talk about freediving success.

My simple advice to overcome this is to never progress in Freediving until your past efforts felt easy, that’s right, EASY, If your past effort was difficult, resulted in lung Squeeze, Equalizing Trouble, Felt uncomfortable, was on the edge of 02 limit, then any further attempt at progress would be Folly! Using this “Easy” approach all Freedivers will develop real world Confidence and perfect the correct skills first, not forming bad habits with the wrong ones.

Unfortunately I have personally seen and observed incorrect behavior within many of the Freediving scenes, although largely confined to the smaller competitive scene.

Lets be honest and come clean, ask yourself again, do you really need to pack for Freediving success?

I firmly believe that non Freedivers, beginner or intermediate or even the experienced Freediving people really do not need to be exposed to it, its old fashioned and redundant, it is proven to be very harmful and has caused serious injuries to many people.

Ok to the science! If while reading this you thought, “I need to pack so I can equalize”. Lets bust that myth – Boyles Law –

Fill your mouth with Air at 25 mtrs = 3.5 Atm (The amount can vary from person to person – lets say 300- 400 ml total)

So take that back to the surface for ease of calculation and magically it turns into 1.4 Ltrs,

Now take your 1.4 ltrs down to 100 Mtrs = 11 Atm……….

WOW there is still air left, in fact plenty, at 100 mtrs Boyle states that your mouth would contain around 127 ml of air, Now do not make the mistake of thinking that any of that precious air is “used” on the descent, the EQ process is simply a pressurization strategy, we keep pressure within the inner side of the e-tube which counteracts the adverse pressure on the other side, so the air does not go anywhere, the only place it could possibly go is either back to the lungs, the stomach, out the nose or out the mouth (in very rare cases out of the tear duct), the idea and correct technique is to keep the pressurization strategy constant, therefore no air escapes. If it does this would constitute a “failure in technique” and bring the freediver back to more practice.

Note: still contained in some Freediving course materials out there (there is text in circulation about larger Total lung capacity from packing and / deeper Residual Volume – But It fails to mention that any faux gains will be swiftly eclipsed by the laundry list of negative effects and hindrance to Freediving and overall relaxation.

So armed with this knowledge we can see that packing is non essential for Equalization success, we do not need to pack, in fact as you become more flexible naturally you can inhale more air with less effort, remaining relaxed and with an added bonus of being able to mouth fill deeper if you wish.

Enjoying the depths

Enjoying the depths

As you naturally become more flexible, the packing is un important to success, a far better plan to work on perfecting the mouth fill frenzel technique in the first place, adaptation and flexibility are far more important than making a big mistake like starting to use Packing to overcome imaginary barriers in the first place, then pushing yourself deeper than your own confidence and skill level, this is a shortcut to disaster.

I heard someone say more oxygen? Ok Lets consider the obvious- that a packer will spend time on the surface packing, so from time of Final breath and end of packing and subsequent immersion there can be from 20 seconds up to and over 1 minute of 02 Debt created, an example of this during CWT -this time on the surface could have been far better spent on the descent process, aside from the elevated heart rate, added stress and added buoyancy from the packing in the first place another interesting fact is that within that wasted minute that was spent packing at the surface (during a relaxed Freedive any non packing Freediver can expect to be down around the 40-60 mtr mark within 1.00 min mark, have completed a turn at the 50 mtr mark in the pool, or be at the .20-1.00 min mark in static), so that is a huge 02 debt that is created by the packing in the first place.

An 02 debt is a serious Freediving hindrance.

As we take a closer look more interesting facts arise, I received Feedback from a Lung Specialist who performed many tests for a 60 minutes TV Segment I was involved in, they discussed that the Packing can reduces the blood shift significantly, Most savvy Freedivers will understand the importance of the blood shift.

Packing causing squeeze? If there was any evidence connecting packers and squeezers then we arrive there shortly, by stemming our blood shift we put the lungs at much greater elevated risk of Squeeze, by packing you elevate yourselves to an imaginary confidence level which is far removed from your actual level of Skill which creates added stress, and we see this evidenced by incredibly fast CWT Freedives from newcomers who start to pack.

packed Dragon

With time and patience the modern Freediver will far exceed the packing Freedivers depths distance and Times with far greater relaxation, adaptation, skill level, Flexibility, Confidence and most importantly MDR / blood shift and safety barrier.

The Perils and pitfalls continue – Packing more air increases risk of DCS related problems from carrying far more Nitrogen, this is a simple one, no need to elaborate.

Air embolism / Stoke? The packed lungs have started the dive over expanded (above normal pressure), so the Alveoli within are stretched to dangerous limits, and there are very real limits.

The packed freediver descends and their over expanded lungs slowly shrink and the pressure is reduced momentarily, but do not be fooled, as on ascent which is almost always carried out at over 1 mtr per second the packed stressed lung returns to the massively over expended form, this rapid expansion increases the lung volume until the elastic limit of the alveoli can be exceeded and can be damaged, it is at this point where air can pass into the blood stream where it can find its way to the brain/heart, or the lung can collapse, pneumothorax can occur, all sorts of complications and damage are a possibility, the scary fact is that Air embolism and lung expansion injuries have been increasingly common in Freediving as the misinformed start to pack for longer and larger, in my opinion these incidents have mostly been mis diagnosed or swept under the Freediving carpet.

Packing and Squeezing are serious issues, make no mistake, Lung damage is no joke and can elevate into a life threatening injury very quickly.

So now armed with more information, I hope all packers may consider to change habits, gain more confidence naturally and realize that all that extra air and stress is not needed, many people can perform 8 + minute static without packing, 200 + dynamics without packing, and 100 mtr+ Dives without packing, take a modern approach and Freedive Safely and enjoy your self more, don’t pack, Just have fun be relaxed and patient, smile, take time to develop sufficient adaptation, skills and confidence and I guarantee success will follow.

Einstein once quoted:

 To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances.

Great Freediving to all! Keep it tropical and don’t forget the Rock n Roll!

Mike Wells

45 Signs you will make a great Freediving Instructor!

Welcome back to the FDHQ Blog 🙂 This one is for the Freedivers, thinking about going professional? We think you should go Nike and Just do it!!

45 signs you will make a great Freediving Instructor!

It’s a growth sector, its trending, its blowing up all over the world, its Freediving and its coming to a shoreline near you soon, if your hooked on your health and well being, love the gym or yoga, enjoy the outdoors or are just a flat out adventure junky then you have to get involved in Freediving!

INST-Luna

Freediving Instructor Luna from Dalian in China

Most of us already know the thrills and adventure of the silent sport, and we all eventually come to the familiar crossroads of turning a passion into a profession, if you search you will find 1001 different points of view and advice out there in the career sector on this exact topic, the question is, should you open that Pandora’s box? Doe’s turning your hobby into work really complicate things? It’s a simple answer- Hell no!!! In fact its called “living the dream”, imagine waking up every day with fervent enthusiasm, no need for alarm clocks, you literally bounce out of bed and skip to work singing and whistling tunes in G-major, The decision is ultimately yours, and speaking from experience it’s an exciting industry with low stress factor and high rewards!

Freediving Instructor Marine, from France

Freediving Instructor Marine, from France

So what does it take to become a great Freediving Instructor?

The mission list is extensive! You may need to be a good communicator, an encyclopedia of information, an evaluator, a manager, a taskmaster, a psych counselor, a team member, a role-model a decision-maker, a surrogate personal coach & a shoulder to cry on, however onerous this may sound it is one of the most rewarding professions I have been involved in.

There is an x factor, something secret, something you don’t find anywhere else in any other activity, although getting a start in Freediving can be quite easy, mastering the art of Freediving requires a mindset, you cannot fluke it, it only comes easy to a luck few, mastery of Freediving takes a spellbinding determination and patience, and sometimes a whole lot of practice to acquire the skills needed for success, and these skills are special, ones that are often not taught in any other programs or courses for any sports.

Freediving Instructors Amber, Sdnei, Oscar, Megan, Sura, Fran, Alana, Adrian, Rochelle,

Freediving Instructors Amber, Sdnei, Oscar, Megan, Sura, Fran, Alana, Adrian, Rochelle in Vanuatu

I have always said that if you take a census and round up a test group of 1000 people at random anywhere in the world and ask them to Swim down to 30 mtrs on a single breath of air you may find a 100% failure rate, yet all other testing groups for tasks like swimming and outdoor survival, cold water submersion, blistering hot desserts, great heights, underwater helicopter escapes etc etc have a very high test group success rate, you see its because Freediving is special!!! It’s a remarkable Skill and passing on this knowledge to others can almost feel spiritual.

Many Enthusiastic Freedivers in Cebu

Many Enthusiastic Freedivers in Cebu

45 signs you will make a great Freediving Instructor!

You will need to-

  1. Be a teaching professional
  2. Be good at presentations
  3. Be good at explaining things
  4. Display in-depth subject knowledge
  5. Maintain professionalism at all times
  6. Enjoy people and enjoy life
  7. Have a good sense of humor
  8. Be positive & fair minded
  9. Know the materials by heart
  10. Display group control skills
  11. Be able to set expectations
  12. Manage time
  13. Have patience
  14. Have thick skin
  15. Have professional equipment
  16. Solve problems on the spot
  17. Recognize danger
  18. Display good judgment & duty of care
  19. Make good decisions
  20. Be a leader
  21. Be a waterman
  22. Be a facilitator
  23. Be a psychologist
  24. Be a mediator
  25. Be responsible
  26. Be respectful
  27. Be prepared
  28. Be a mentor
  29. Be accountable
  30. Have an emergency management plan
  31. Know advanced first aid
  32. Be a pleasure to be around
  33. Create fun and excitement
  34. Make people happy
  35. Help people to discover
  36. Learn from people
  37. Respond politely at all times
  38. Always be early
  39. Provide exceptional service
  40. Provide acknowledgement
  41. Provide satisfaction and enjoyment
  42. Provide consistency
  43. Provide an amazing experience for all
  44. Make it incredible fun for everyone
  45. Make it incredible fun for yourself
11 great Freediving Instructors sharing the passion globally

11 great Freediving Instructors sharing the passion globally

The list may seem long, but these are everyday characteristics of a true Freediving professional!

My personal advice is to go for it! Take the leap! The Freediving industry is finally emerging as a global phenomenon, there is new stand alone Freediving centers opening just about weekly, and they are usually in great places for adventure with tropical waters and exotic cultures, the opportunities are innumerable!

Mike Wells

Director of Leisure FDHQ Philippines

FREEDIVING POOL Training – Success Decoded “SWITCH Training”

Mabuhay from the philippines!!

Welcome back to THE FDHQ Freediving Blog! This edition is dedicated to the pool Freedivers, lets face it, living in big cities far from the perfect Freediving grounds can be frustrating, so we head to the pools to get our fix, in reality most of our pool Freediving is for the hope that one day we may get enough time away from work to go to where the real action is in the sea!

pool header

“SWITCH Training” for Freedivers! break through the plateau & set new records.

“Pool Training”, is a term many Freedivers are accustom to, but make no mistake its not only for training, many a fun social session has materialised while hanging around the pool scene, if i really think about it, my own sessions were 80% motivated by the social interaction and friendships developed around my time as a Pool fool.

This is my personal experience, advice & training tips for anyone looking to maximise / break through a plateau where they may have stopped making gains, or simply wish to change up the routine, try something new or make new friends 🙂

I developed this routine while training with long time friend and avid Freediving “Chlorine Clown” Tanguy Crusson back in 2009, Tanguy would mostly complain about being in a pool in the first place but was always there twice a week mad keen for more, I hope that some of you can make sense of the nonsense & maybe even add a new element to your future training sessions after reading.

A Freediver From the 1970s sporting a hairy chest & wearing speedo's :p

A Freediver From the 1970s sporting a hairy chest & wearing speedo’s :p

This exact routine of training has worked for me and many other Freedivers i have trained with, the method is certainly not new to sports, but is not widely used in Freediving, the results for myself and my training buddies have been incredible ( i used this exact routine in 2009 to successfully train up to my AUS record of 7.27 Mins within only a few months and subsequently achieved 8.22mins in Static Apnea quite easily, My Partner & Training buddy at the time Alana Caskey achieved similar results with an awesome 5.27 mins AUS record and a subsequent PB 6.31 mins static dive with quite little training time.

Lotta Ericsson, Linda Paganelli of Freedive Dahab with me in 2010 - 7.27 mins Static

Lotta Ericsson, Linda Paganelli of Freedive Dahab with me in 2010 – 7.27 mins Static

This program will also prepare you for depth Freediving, The stronger Dive Reflex and breath-hold comfort will inevitably lead to far more relaxed dive times and will ultimately allow you more time to work on the Flex and EQ factors during your Depth sessions, as the 02 factor will be sorted from the training – totally cool!

NOTE: this training approach is for Apnea ability / not streamlining or technique, this approach is perfect for the Pool Freedivers, also for the “Timepoor” Freedivers who wish to get results.

Training the “back end” of your apnea abilities (SWITCH Training): The Key point here is to keep the main training focus on the “back end” of our apnea ability, we leave the door wide open for for Front end Success – By this, understand that during our training period we only attempt our max swims when we are already exhausted from our interval training / C02 sessions, hence the term “back end”.

On the flip side or Front end would be a fresh and very prepared Freediver, here we are aiming for the opposite.

EG: Complete The tough Training sessions of Dynamic C02 tables etc, as per the recommended sessions, they should feel awful, otherwise your not putting in the right amount of effort 😉 – Then prepare for a max Swim or Static on the back end, these distances will obviously never be as successful as the fresh front end max swims, in fact that is the point!

Freedivers Training Static in Vanuatu

Freedivers Training Static in Vanuatu

Now to be honest, when i was training, on the evenings of very tough sessions in the beggining i would come up short, but persistence is Key & with time what was once difficult can become quite easy. We “will” see a marked increase in the back end times and distance over as little as a 2 month training period –  my own back end static max attempts were eventually up to around 5-6 mins in a short amount of training time, These Dives would feel terrible, this is where my front end performance’s once were, so here we are performing holds and distances we have achieved on the fresh front end attempts previously.

This is the high time when it is perfect to try your max Swim / Static Fresh on the Front side! NOTE: SWITCH Train your back end apnea for at least a month before returning to a Fresh front side max attempt, that is why i called it “SWITCH Training”.

My most successful normal drill for an evening in the pool was as follows. (you can customise this to fit your own abilities / style)

C02 Table CDYN (Bi-Fins) (yes you can use a mono)

50 mtr (1.00 min Breathe)

50 mtr (0.50)

50 mtr (0.40)

50 mtr (0.30)

50 mtr (0.20)

50 mtr (0.10)

50 mtr (0.05)

Break for 10 mins ( is a good opportunity to watch your buddy complete a similar table)

Repeat the above table ( i would normally be toast by the end of the second table, well toasted and ready for a back end max Dive!)

A short Break of 5 minutes only, then go for your Max Swim or Max Static (This is the Back end of your performance)

Static sessions at the Shangri la 5 stars!

Static sessions at the Shangri la 5 stars!

When the energy has been used, when the Apnea ability is fatigued, when the lactic is high. Do not take too long to prepare for the Max Back end Dive – keep it to 5 mins or under, remember we do not want to be to prepared, we leave this for the front end dives.

NOTE: If you are training specifically for static then directly after coming up from your last swim try this – take a short 1 minute preparation and go for your max static.

I did manage around 4 mins on this approach (keep in mind that it should be as per your normal Static – listen to your body / coach). The results will come.

I hope this adds another dimension to your current approach to pool training for Freediving, Suffering through C02 tables and back end Max attempts is only torture when in the moment, afterwards there is always a much longer period of laughter and reflection on the comedic nature of this style of training, and the great friendships that seem to be made while pool fooling around.

Pool training has a great social aspect where strong lifelong friendships can devlop

Pool training has a great social aspect where strong lifelong friendships can develop

Final Word: Resist the urge to try to many Front end max attempts, this is where you can unintentionally build a wall / plateau for yourself. Train the back end for at least a month before you try a fresh Front side Max.

Alana Caskey, cool as a cucumber after her 5.27 Mins Record Static

Alana Caskey, cool as a cucumber after her 5.27 Mins Record Static in 2010

Enjoy the SWITCH Sessions, they are shorter than a regular pool session but pack a punch and stimulate the DR more than anything i have tried before.

Keeping it real, keeping it fun , Keeping it safe.

Director of leisure @ FDHQ

Mike Wells