Just a few words about what was perhaps the greatest dive in history . Alexey Molchanov declared 128 CWT –what happened is another story ,in fact he descended to 129.7 mts ,Effectively 130 mts , he could’nt find the tag – Why ? there are several reasons – narcosis is part of the story . One gets very stoned at this depth .Alexey however breathes up on the surface in a vertical position and is a moderate packer,so probably at the end of packing he does not have much more air in his lungs than if he had breathed up on his back and taken one giant breath before diving.
Now here is where the dive became something beyond the extraordinary , he spent 14 agonising seconds looking for the tag at 130mts ,that is a very long time there. He could’nt locate the tag because it was above him ,he had passed the plate !! On his 126 mt world record he also passed the plate ,was narcosis the only explanation ? I don’t believe so , There are several other factors
1 the plate does not seem to have been illuminated .
2 For some inexplicable reason the tags were black and also not luminous , this is what one sees in the photos
if this is indeed the case ,somebody was seriously stupid.
In spite of all this Alkexey returned to the surface and completed a clean protocol .
What can this man do ? he has elevated freediving and the human potential to the level of the super human ! This dive ,a very short time ago would have been achievable by only 2 or 3 people in the world in No Limits !! And none of them could have spent 14 seconds on the bottom !!
This is a subject that has fascinated me ever since I began to have some understanding of the physiological similarities and differences we share with the diving mammals, particularly the Elephant seals. The latest information on their diving behaviour seems to suggest that they are capable of descents close to the depths achieved by the great diving whales.
The Elephant seal has 1 outstanding difference with us –a much higher proportion of myoglobin versus hemoglobin. We have a large proportion of hemoglobin and a comparatively small proportion of myoglobin. The Elephant seal has Continued…
Erika did pioneering work on spleen reaction in elite freedivers. She carried out ultra sound tests on nearly all the competitors in the international competition in Sharm in 2008. The spleen is a huge reserve of red corpuscles and her experiments demonstrated that after a series of 3 breath holds the spleen started to contract and release its reserve into the blood. This came to be called the “spleen advantage” and changed our understanding of the importance of warm ups before a maximum attempt.
In the 4 intervening years we began to ask the question if this reaction could be trained to react sooner. This was particularly important for CNF divers, who favour thinner suits in order not to incur the penalty of wearing any avoidable weight. Thinner suits and lighter weights have one problem – the athlete can get shivering cold if he has to spend time on a long warm up program and this can severely affect his performance. Today a lot of the top CNF divers and even CWT divers do no warm ups. Their first dive is the maximum dive, without any warm ups!
Erika was aware of this trend and even suggested that visualising the dive, by trained freedivers could instigate the reflex. It was great to hear what I believed possible was a belief shared by the authority on the subject.
In the next posts we will publish conversations from last week with Erika Schagatay, one of the worlds leading physiologists on Freediving.
It was a great pleasure to meet Erika again, the last time we met was at the International Freedive Competition in Sharem in 2008. We met her at the border and kidnapped her and took her to a restaurant where we had a long awaited chance to pick her brains. 🙂
The Sanskrit Sutra quote, and incidentally, the name I gave to my small freedivers boat , “Ishvara Pranidhana” , can be absurdly simplified to, “I surrender all that I am to YOU”, whether that be that your god, the universe, or the elements you perceive to hold that immensity. I feel the sea, the water, the air….
In many forms of Yoga, Ishvara-Pranidhana is considered the “final” step, stage, practice, observance or niyama. … Compare the meditation and mindfulness exercises of Ishvara-Pranidhana with Zen. “Connecting to the Divine Within,” or attentiveness and surrender to the Divine within in Ishvara-Pranidhana, parallels the concept of connecting to the inner Buddha-Nature in Zen. Continued…