This is the video on my thoughts on deep equalisation! Long promised, hope you will enjoy it. It is not the magic bullet, but part of a strategy for depth. It is amazingly simple, but still may not be that simple to learn from a video, in which case the fault is mine and not yours 🙂
It’s been nearly a week since the golden day when all three of my divers did PB’s. The sea was an invitation 25 degrees, beautifull clear visibility no current and very little waves. It began with a 300 meter swim to the point we deployed our buoy. Warm ups were very limited, Walter Chivescu went first with his dive, we had been working on the pacing and tactics – when to begin the glide. Walter was comfortable with an ascent and descent rate of 0.8 mts per second. It turned into a beautifully planned relaxed CNF dive to 43.2 mts.
Jeroen had been consistently been improving his CWT in Bi-Fins, he has a very elegant and effective style, his equalising had been consistently improving with methodically increased depths. He had an excellent dive to 36 mts, with all the pieces in place.
Mikhail was the last to go absolutely no dramas here, a beautifull controlled descent with great style and pacing and completed a PB of 36 mts CNF, Mikhail has much more in the tank.
All the team completed their dives with perfect surface protocols, and no blue lips. Well done all! I take my hat off to all 3 of you.
The 6th day of training for my 2 Giants – Walter Chivescu and Jeroen Van Haudt. We had been doing a lot of empty lung training, to acclimatize to pressure. Learn my advanced technique of equalisation for depth, and get used to the noseclip. Yesterday the sea was perfect, 20mt visibility, no current and the surface like glass. The white line, a thread, an invitation into the deep blue, there were smiles exchanged, I felt a surge of joy and knew it would be a good day. Things began slowly, each wrestling with
The idea for this video came by way of a chance encounter, it was I admit something that had been rattling around in my head for a long time, but I have a great talent for procrastination. Several people had suggested I tackle the subject. The “Frenzel“, it is a basic technique specific to freediving. It came to my attention, many people fail the AIDA 2 star course that has a depth minimum of 16 mts by failing to cross this hurdle. People were coming to me after courses, having tied themselves in knots worrying about their soft palate their epiglottis and tongue position. All unneccessairy! Get the tongue action right, and the rest follows automatically. This – you can teach yourself with a flash light in front of a mirror with a bit of persistence.
There is so much confusion out there – it sounds like the tower of Babel, this is what at first put me off adding just another opinion to mess.
Then I met
Lauri Aalto visited us from Finland via Aquaba. He had to finish the water part of the 2 star AIDA course and went on to do the water part of the 3 star course. On the first day it became apparent that there was an equalisation issue. His Frenzel was nearly correct, but the nearly was creating a problem.
There was no movement in the area of the diaphragm, therefore no hybrid of Frenzel and Valsalva. The little pits behind the nostrils were inflating correctly with each equalisation and the muscles under the chin and lower jaw were also contracting correctly, but still each equalisation was too forced and too slow.
His problem was easily noticeable when he equalised with his mouth wide open in front of the mirror. The front of his tongue was pushing forcibly against his bottom teeth. This is a common fault and is usually the result of miss-understanding or in correct teaching, the student believes that in order to raise the back of the tongue he must push the front of the tongue against the bottom teeth. This vastly complicates the issue making the equalisation too slow and bringing in a lot of tension, which means problems at depth!
After the first day Lauri did 3 hours of dry practice and arrived the next day with the problem solved. He could equalise with the mouth wide open and only the back of the tongue was active pushing against the soft palate.
Lauri came with an excellent water sense ,great determination combined with good humour and intelligence, so his progress was astonishing. A small amount of polishing on the duck dive was necessary, after that concentration could be brought to tactics – correct weighting, counting strokes for determining when to go into the glide, and correct technique for the glide.
His partner work was exemplary.
Altogether Lauri was a joy to work with we had very rough seas and 20 knot winds and on the last day one of the worst currents I have seen in recent years. In spite Lauri completed his 30 mt dive with ease. He is to be congratulated on achieving all his objectives, a very creditable performance.
Walter Chivescu came to us on the 23 rd Nov for his second visit during his first visit he had achieved 46mts FIM. He had been plagued by equalisation problems since his first course in freediving .
Walter did our remote coaching program both before his first visit and before this one . He had achieved 6:06 Static and a breath walk of 2;15 after a 1;20 static hold . he had also been doing empty lung statics . So we knew his breath hold would not ever be in question for any realizable depth during this visit .
We spent the first 10 days basically ignoring depth and
Just to congratulate David Kent on a superb new UK record in Constant No Fins of 70mts. A magnificent dive by a diver with huge potential!
David has been training with me in Eilat and Dahab and also in the UK on my remote training program since last October.
David has done considerably more than 70mts in training.
The competition was planned for 2 days, and our plan was for David to do 70mts on the first day and 74mts on the second, due to organisational difficulties 1 day was cancelled, so David decided to be conservative and go for 70 mts and earned the first white card of this competition; thus improving his own UK record by 8 mts! Well done David!
There have been several incidents, recently, of pulmonary barotraumas and even air embolism connected to the practice of “air packing”. Sufficient incidents are enough to raise concern.
We cannot wait for formal experiments, to determine the degree of risk. This may take years before even a protocol can be designed for tests, we need to act now. At least paying attention, and approaching techniques that have an element of risk with a degree of caution.
Part of the trouble is that the general freediving public is becoming more aware of techniques practiced by the Elite few, without any awareness of the safety constrictions that they put upon themselves, or without any idea of how long it has taken them to get to their current level of physiological adaptation to this technique.
It is with deep sorrow that we have just heard about the loss of a friend, Carson Bilsland in the Algerian hostage debacle.
Carson who we knew at first as a freedive student, became an avid freediver and competitor attending our first competition in Cabo San Lucas and several times visitor to our camp in Punta Coyote was a true Gentleman and sportsman.
He became a very dear and valued friend. A man of shinning courage and a gentleness and kindness that extended to our then little 8 year old son to whom he told magical stories and sent childrens books.
Carson was funny and wild and loved by our family, he will be sorely missed I can only with humility offer our heartfelt condolences to his family.
This competition in the Bahamas has produced incredible results across the board and I think there are very important lessons to be learned here. Quite apart from the physical conditions of comparatively warm, deep and current-less water, without much surface disturbance, there are other very important factors at work here.
The main one I believe is the length of the competition –10 days. This gives the divers some very substantial advantages. They can approach their maximum depth gradually, this allows some acclimatisation to pressure. In the past, last year in Greece for example, divers who had been training in the pool and
NO was discovered in the 1970’ s in research that was awarded a Nobel Prize. It is a vasodilator, like a natural Viagra, actually exploiting the same pathways in the body. It is a gas that is produced in the Para nasal sinuses in very small quantities. In large quantities it is toxic. It is of extreme interest to freedivers, it improves breath hold and also protects the system being overcome by ROS (free radicals) during blood shift (ischemia and referfusion) during the Ischemic stage phase, where it behaves like a powerfull anti oxidant.
I have long speculated that diver exhaustion after a series of extreme deep dives might be due to NO depletion, or the 3rd day exhaustion factor. NO also behaves as an anti inflammatory and is helpful in preventing DCS in freedivers.
Erika agreed that this might be an exciting subject for research.
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
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. 🙂
I had come across an article more than a year ago on Herbert Nitch’s experiences in diving with the skandalopetra, culminating with his 107 mt world record. So I was pre-warned about some of the main challenges. The first was the cold, only a speedo was permitted for this discipline, there were thermoclines to deal with, and sudden cooooold!
I learned that breathe up was done on the surface in either a sitting, kneeling or standing position. This was the easy part, then one bends forward and dives into the water. My anxiety, at first, was would my noseclip come off in the plunge through the surface. This didn’t happen, but in my first dive I dropped the stone on entry, luckly my handler (kolauzeris) detected this, stopped it’s descent so I grabbed it again and continued my descent.
Before I begin this tale of our discovery of Skandalopetra and our understanding of the techniques required, just a brief word about our mentor Nikolas Trikilis, the Guru of Skandanopetra. Nikolas is one of those people who with great ease gets on with everybody, a person of considerable charm. If he was a politician it would stop there, but in his case it is far from stopping there, he is a person of enormous patience, an ability to emphatise that goes far beyond the definition of a great comunicator. He helped us before our arrival and had the patience to listen to and answer all my questions at even inappropriate times.
It was in 1992-3 that that I read Jacques Mayol’s book “Homo Delphinus”, it had just come out in French. In it was the story of a Greek Sponge diver called Haggi Statti (Hazzi Stathi), who had recovered the anchor of the Santa Margarita. The story is one of the great stories of freediving.
The Italian light Cruiser Santa Margarita (Regina Margherita) was paying a courtesy visit to Greece and managed to lose its anchor in the bay of Pigadia in the island of Karpathos. There were no available hard hat divers and the depth was extreme more than 70 mts. Eventually someone informed the Italians that there was a local sponge diver who regularly dived breath hold to those depths. At first they were skeptical, but
It has to stop NOW ! this obscene slaughter of Pilot Whales in the Faroes. There are endless stories of pilots guiding mariners to safety. These are miraculous creatures about whom too little is known. These are creatures of great intelligence. What are the reasons for this disgusting spectacle? These are sub human sadists conducting this stupid massacre. Danes are you proud of your countrymen ? Is this what you are ? Eli Weisel a holocaust survivor said he could understand the sadists in the camps but never the blank silent stares of those that watched the trains go by . Where are your voices?
Where are the voices of the Danish freedivers who pretend to love the sea and its creatures ? Are you all so busy selling leashes and books ? Or do you not want the responsibility of standing up and saying what needs to be said and maybe becoming unpopular in certain circles . Perhaps take an example from
Concerning the by now famous tatoo of the french swimmer Fabien Gilot (I am nothing without them) If this was indeed a tribute to the Israeli victims of the Munich massacre of 1972 . This , like the Italian team’s minute of silence outside the Israeli team quarters was an act of extreme nobility in the most profound spiirit of the Olympics . In ancient Greece, Olympia and the games were a sacred place of peace . This was the first principle of the Olympics ,that the city states of Greece very often involved in vicious civil wars could come together in peace and regardless of differences,their athletes could look each other in the eye and recognise for a brief moment a common humanity and a cause and a principle greater than their differences, and if everything else is corrupted this should be remembered, it is symbolised in the Olympic flame and the honour given to the Greek athletes to lead the parade of athletes . Thus the athletes of Italy and France earn my profound respect and gratitude that they have up held this tradition .