The last few weeks I've been practicing my breathing with an app called STAmina. I was advised to follow the CO2 breathing sequence which will help build up resistance to the bodies natural warning of CO2 build up. I started on the app with 0:45 second breath holds, 1:00 minute breath holds, then worked up to 1:25. My breath holds are currently 1:25 and breathing sections starting from 1:30 and decreasing by 5 seconds to 0:55. It's 8 cycles and the total time of the exercise is 20 minutes.
One thing I noticed was that it was important to be relaxed with no interruptions. If I got interrupted then even at the first 15 seconds of my breath hold I'm thinking that I won't manage it, and towards the end of the hold it was starting to become uncomfortable. I had the app setup to beep every 15 seconds which seemed to help really well, as its difficult to judge how much time has passed. I've notice in the past that it can sometimes be difficult to judge time when relaxed. It currently feels good to know the elapsed time, but I can also see how it could be off putting as well.
In a few days I'll be in Malta with One Breath Freediving. So I need to keep up my breathing exercises and finish the last few pages of the AIDA2 manual.
Before doing any training I thought I may be able to hold my breath for 1 minute. But following the course manual and the breathing app I've surprised myself that I can do 8 cycles of 1:25 breath holds.
I'm a bit nervous about some aspects of the course. As a scuba diver I know I'm more comfortable and relaxed when under the water, rather than on the surface, so I'm currently wondering how well I'll be able to relax on the surface. I think of the transition between the surface and underwater to be the risky area when scuba diving..... probably due to possible kit issues rather than physical ability. Also, on the surface I feel more exposed and vulnerable and this only seems to be the case in the sea. Once under the water it's peaceful and calm.
Another issues is the feeling of being underwater on just a breath hold. Being at 15m without an air supply is very dangerous situation when scuba diving but is perfectly normal and safe when freediving. Although I held my breath when in a pool or snorkelling in the sea and felt ok
Welcome to a series of new blog posts where we follow the experience of a scuba diver as he learns to freedive properly for the first time!
Here is part one:
I started scuba diving in September 2011 and have done 400 dives. I've completed the PADI divemaster qualification as well as the SDI Solo diver, PADI tec 40 and I'm currently studying for Tec 45.
I like to learn from every dive and always look at ways to improve. I'm currently working on kit configuration and practising technical diving procedures and methods. I've thought about doing a freediving course for the last 2 years, although I've not taken it any further than that.... until now. In about six weeks I'll be doing my AIDA2 with One Breath Freediving in Malta.
A couple of days ago I went to my local 6m deep pool where I was able to prepare for the course. I just wanted to practice The Frenzel Maneuver for equalising. This is how I equalise when scuba diving, but when scuba diving the decent rate is a lot slower and I'm horizontal, not head first.
After 15 minutes in the pool the equalising was going well and towards of the session I could manage 30-40 seconds under water. This was without knowing any relaxation, breathing techniques or how to efficiently duck dive. At this point I hadn't read anything about freediving. I used a 5mm wetsuit, 3kg weights, scuba fins and mask.
Over the next few weeks I'm going to be studying the AIDA2 manual and spend some time practising breathing and relaxation. I'll update my experiences here in a couple of weeks while I progress through the freediving manual.
Great conditions at Cirkewwa as Vitalijus & Bruno complete the final open water requirements for the AIDA3 course.
The Mammalian Diving Response (MDR)
How the Human Body Responds to Submersion in Water: A Summery
One of the questions I get asked most frequently as a freediving instructor is about HOW we can hold our breath longer. What is the 'trick', the 'secret' that can make it easier for us to be underwater deeper or longer. What many people don't realise is the the human body already holds most of the answers!
Here is an overview of the four main diving responses of the human body, collectively known as 'Mammalian Diving Response' (MDR):
Trigger: Breath-holding, facial immersion in water, increased pressure
Response: Blood vessels in the extremities of the body (arms, legs) constrict to keep blood prioritised for the vital organs of the body
FACT: A disadvantage of reduced blood flow is increased carbon dioxide and lactic acid build up, but tolerance to these can be increased through training
Trigger: Facial Immersion in (cold) water, breath-holding
Response: Heart rate slows down by 10-25% in untrained, or up to 50% in trained freedivers, thus conserving blood Oxygen
FACT: In diving seals, heart rate has been measured going from 125bpm to below 10bpm during a dive!
Trigger: Breath holding and increased pressure on repetitive deep dives
Response: The spleen contracts and releases more red blood cells which aid oxygen transportation in the blood
FACT: The spleen is not an essential organ, but holds a reserve of blood and is important as part of the bodies immune system
Trigger: Increased pressure on deeper dives
Response: Blood plasma swells the alveoli of the lungs filling the chest cavity area to prevent barotrauma injury from increased pressure at depth
FACT: Only as recently as the 1970's did scientists begin to understand this phenomenon once divers such as Enzo Maiorca returned from 50m+ dives, injury free!
Sign up for AIDA3 (Intermediate) Course at One Breath Freediving to learn more about the Mammalian Diving Response and to reach new depths underwater.
Congratulations Ryan, Earl, Rody & Yanica for successfully completing AIDA 2* Course. Here we are celebrating together on Tug 2 wreck after the final course requirements were met.
Yet another fascinating freediver visits Malta to train at One Breath Freediving! Marisa is an underwater dancer, and here she is doing some Tango in the Y-40 pool in Italy.
Me, I have two left feet so I stay behind the camera :-)
And to reveal the identity of my new student.......
........Martin Faulks "Author, martial artist and esotericist." With interests, including Ninjutsu, Tai Chi, Meditation, Freemasonry and Hermetics. Also referred to in the British media as the 'Norwich Ninja' due to his training in the secretive martial art.
Here he is doing some Free Immersion at Cirkewwa!
Follow his video diary of his training on youtube:
Find out what the One Breath Freediving team is up to with the latest posts on this blog page.