Learning to Freedive

Saturday 1st March 2014

Today was the first day of my Freediving Class A course with Apnea Freediving at Sunreef Mooloolaba.

We spent the morning going over theory, I found the book to be fantastic, it went over Henry’s Law, Boyle’s Law and Dalton’s Law in a very simple way that even a monkey would’ve been able to grasp the concepts, and I couldn’t help but think about how unnecessarily complex the TDI Nitrox and Advanced Nitrox (Scuba diving) manuals had made these theories out to be.

There seemed to be a lot of different things to remember, and in my class aside from one other guy, I was the only new person to Freediving, the others were experienced Freedivers and Spearos who wanted to perfect their technique. There also appeared to be a lot of things that could go wrong and I was mindful of trying to soak it all up.

We headed to Kawana pool for our afternoon pool session with Lewis Jones the Apnea instructor. First we did some yoga stretches, then geared up. I was ecstatic to find how super easy it was to get into my new three and a half one cell wetsuit I recently purchased from Adreno. In the shop I had to try it on inside out due to not being able to lubricate it in the store, and I got well and truly stuck up in a noodle getting the thing on and off. Luckily the sales person was also a Freediving instructor and convinced me it would be okay with some lubrication. He was right, it slipped right on like a glove after I wet it with water and felt super comfy.

We started off with a timetable of breath holds, they call this static Apnea. You basically do a series of six breath holds, each breath hold to your first initial time but the recovery intervals get shorter and shorter. My first breath hold was two minutes and fifteen seconds, it still amazes me how I did that. I ended up doing two minutes thirty seconds but think I could’ve easily hit the three minute mark if I hadn’t gotten distracted.

It was a real surprise to see how I improved just from doing one after the other, I felt the contractions I was getting at the start were either non-existent in later breath holds or much later in the hold then before, even though we had only done six. A contraction is where you have a physical urge to breathe, for me this felt like a little shaking predominantly in my chest area. I could hear my heart beating and I let my mind slip away into fantasy land.

Holding my breath for that long was probably the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done. I’m not very good at relaxing, I’m one of those people that always needs to be doing something productive, like if I’m sitting still then I’m wasting valuable time.

Whilst I was holding my breath I thought of my dog Bear as I continued to go through the timetable I started to feel like my body had dissolved into the water, completely weightless, that I was or had become the water. I know that sounds so airy fairy but that is the only way I can describe it.

We practised duck diving, equalisation techniques, finning techniques and rescues. Then we did a underwater dive to see how far we could go in distance. My first attempt I went sixty metres and my second attempt I did eighty metres.

I felt like I was a rocket zooming through the water, it felt like I was going fast, and I was probably going too fast as you are supposed to make slow movements to conserve energy and oxygen. I think had I gone a bit slower after the turn I probably could have done ninety metres maybe more.

I zoned out watching the reflections of the water on the bottom of the pool, myriads of colours of the rainbow, I felt like I could stay down there forever, until the turn, this is where I had my first contraction. A psychological thing I know. I wanted to push and get through it but it got stronger, so then I came up. Lewis said I had a ‘Samba’ when I came up.

A Samba is a loss of motor skills upon the surface, to me if just felt like the contraction had lengthened, I don’t think I even noticed that It had happened. Lewis was great and took control of the situation explaining to me what it meant and reminding me to do my hook breathing upon surfacing.

To check out the courses available or read more about Freediving go to: http://www.apneaaustralia.com.au/

Saturday 24th May 2014

Today I finished off my Freediving stage A course with Lewis from Apnea Freediving on the Brisbane ex HMAS. We did some skills, rescues and drills. We also did free immersion which is where you pull yourself down a line then back up again without finning, this was pretty fun. We did fifteen metres depth then decided to have some fun on the wreck.

I finally nailed the Frenzel technique a few days prior at home. Wow it’s actually really easy I had been over thinking it all along. I would say rather than a piston action with the tongue it’s more a stick sponge action, so you flatten the tongue on the roof of our mouth in a sticky motion up and down and this forces the air from your mouth into your ear cavities rather than taking the air from your lungs. So I was really pleased with myself to perform this in practise today dozens of times whilst descending.

I did feel like I wasn’t relaxed enough and was thinking too much about tasks to really get the most out of my dives, but I’m only doing it for the first time so I know after practising that it will just come as second nature and then I can relax my mind and let go.

Here is short video of another Freediver on the Brisbane ex HMAS wreck:

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