Thursday, January 5, 2012

Freediving Class Part II: 4 min breathold EASY?!?!?

The first two days really opened my eyes to the physiology (what is happening within your body) and breathing techniques to reach my full potential.
Most important for everyone in the class, and this should be for all of us in the world, was the safety aspect.
First off, I don't suggest anyone ever push themselves in diving especially when you are alone. You need to know what is going on with your body and if and when you or your friends are in trouble, you need to be able to identify it and react calmly, swiftly and efficiently to make sure that person lives to dive another day.
After hearing the classroom lecture and seeing a number of videos of divers blacking out, samba'ing and losing control while ascending, we learned how to bring those in trouble safely to the surface and get them to start breathing again.
In real life, if this has ever happened to you while diving, it can be really scary, I know having seen it firsthand 4 times now. The first time it happened, I had an idea of what to do and was able to get the diver back to to the surface and our other buddy in the water had just taken the PFI class, was over to me within 30 seconds of hitting the surface and we had him breathing again after the scariest few minutes of my life.

I am not a PFI certified instructor and can only suggest you dive with them or another Freedive Trainer to learn how to dive deeper, stay down longer, and most of all, save a life. You never know, it might be your own.
I found quite a few things that I had been doing in my own diving that were limiting what I was capable of and robbing my body of what I needed to dive safely.
Prior to the class, I could not hold my breath on land for much more than about 2:30 seconds. Honestly, its not something that I have ever really worked on as I didn't see the advantages of it but with set training tables and having seen what just two days of proper breathing, warm ups, and relaxation technique can do for your own personal diving.

Our first day was spent learning all the safety techniques before we were even allowed to put our heads under water. Might sound extreme, but it goes to show how dedicated to teaching proper diving and safety the PFI team is and how closely they pay attention to their students.
Once we had all checked out on the proper techniques, I personally felt more comfortable if I was to see someone blackout or Samba and confident I could assist them when need be.
Well, that time would come sooner than any of us believed and the next day while were doing statics... sure enough we had a few Samba and chance to practice what we'd learned.
Always dive, train, and prepare with a partner. Having someone watching trained in PFI techniques watching you is mentally reassuring and will make you dive better.
On the second day we did Static breath holds which are simply holding your breath with your body immersed in water (floating on the surface) while staying completely relaxed.
Like I said, I've never been a fan of Statics but was curious to see what was possible and tried to zone out and get into a relaxed state to make sure I didn't embarrass myself with a 2 min breath hold.
Well, I need not have worried as I ( and most of the class) coasted through 1, 2 and 3 minute breath holds enroute to our goal for the day of 4 min.
AS your partner counts out the breathing you are to be doing for this 30+ minute warmup and set of breath holds, you let yourself slip into the "zone" and lose sight of the fact that you are going to be holding your breath for longer than should be humanly possible.
Before you know it, you are 3 minutes into your breath hold and feeling surprisingly calm, relaxed and focused.
Your partner taps you at 3min 30 seconds and tells you calmly to get your feet up underneath you and slowly move your hands to the wall. You give a good signal and its now 3:45 seconds and you are still coasting and fighting the urge to believe it has already been this long since you've had fresh air in your lungs.
No sooner has that thought run through your head then you raise your head from the surface and your partner is counting out your recovery breaths, 2, 3,..5,6 and you give the ok signal and a high five to those around you.
You have just entered the 4 minute club and disproved what 99% of the world believes is possible of the human body.
Maybe there is something to these statics after all, that was pretty cool and I feel like I could have gone on much longer... Maybe tomorrow.
If you are interested in learning how to Freedive or just want to be a safer snorkeler, visit

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