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.

When one reaches the preselected depth your Handler waits a few seconds to allow one to grab the rope above the stone, standing on the stone holding the rope in a hydrodynamic position, he then pulls you back to the surface. If you need to abort a dive you merely jerk on the rope and he immediately pulls you back to the surface.

My second dive where I was less concerned about the entry and could concentrate more on the dive itself ended at 30 mts, at 28 mts there was a thermocline where the temperature dropped in a meter from 24°C degrees to 18°C. Suddenly no more equalisation!

My third dive was to 35 mts and although far from perfect, I felt I was beginning to understand, I accepted the cold welcomed it.

The first day was tough for Alina, too much too soon, she struggled with a noseclip that kept coming off on entry.

The second day was a kind of a break through for both of us. Alina had a break through where she was diving better than most of the men!

I had only 2 dives on the second day, on the first I was rudely jerked back to the surface by an Italian partner who thought he ”felt something“, probably didn’t like geriatric diving! 🙂

My second dive to 36 mts, the bottom, taught me a lot. We had been told that in order to descend slowly, the stone weighs 14 kilos, to grab it by its forward edge, but normally to slow the descent in stead of holding the stone perpendicular to the bottom one tilts it. However this is only possible if one holds it in the middle. So the descent is very fast and allows no time for delayed equalisation, and you have to equalise fast. The second dive that day to 36mts was great except on the way up I saw my head had missed a rock shelf by a very few centimeters, such is diving without a mask or goggles as our ancestors did.

The third day began with Alina doing a perfect dive with a flawless entry. I then teamed up with Eugeny Boutov an old friend and a superb diver, it was his second year at skandalopetra. We each did a dive to the bottom on the other side of the raft to 45 mts. This we learned was the maximum depth in the waters around Kalymnos. I was a little bit disappointed as I wanted to dive 77mts as Haggi Statti had done. Maybe next year in a Skandalopetra event I am planning with Nikolas in Eilat.

All I was not dissapointed as in the article I read it had taken Herbert 4 days to pass 28mts before he got it and took off for the depths.

Never-the-less, the whole experience was great, being back in Greece, eating again in a Taverna the wonderfull Greek food. Meeting Greek divers like Dimitrios Chatzimentor, who had recently done 200mts DYN

and was a great help to us and a source of information and shared his DYN training program with me. And of course our friends from the Russian Team.

Hopefully next year in Eilat!

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  1. Freediving Skandalopetra
    More than a decade passed since my first dive with the “stone”. Can’t describe my feelings that awful day. Ten meters, fifteen, twenty…something. Didn’t want to offend my teacher Nikolas, didn’t want to resign. Hated those crazy Kalymnians.
    Being at the other side of the coast now, fanatic with the “spirit” of the “stone”, is getting more difficult to me. I have to extend, day by day, my freediving knowledge, in order to “support” my country’s traditional dive. Since skandalopetra has been recently part of the “menu” of elite athletes around the world, coming in Greece to learn the technique, I am in real trouble. Especially when they are male Jewish!*
    Reading Aharon’s article, on his lesson in Skandalopetra, I wonder who’s the teacher and who’s student? You didn’t lose any step my friend. Reading your analytical article, is a lesson to me about the thoughts of an experienced with the stone first time in his hands. Sorry I hadn’t enough time in Kalymnos to stay on the platform together with you and Eugeny….blasted Jump-Blue, keeping all my testosterone for Eilat .
    Having made hundreds of dives, conversations with old sponge-divers along the port of Kalymnos and other islands of Aegean Archipelagos, lectures, videos, being kolauzeris for so many, meetings about the rules,safety…all those years,…. I realized that we hardly have to put some more experience to skandalopetra dive. Discussing with old ladies in Chalki island, I was disappointed about my diving capacity ,when they naively told me, that husbands and grandfathers,” worked”sponges 70-80-100m to make a living. Never heard a word my friends about “thermoclines” or “equalization”. There are not such words in traditional Aegean dialect. Now in my fifties I don’t wonder why.”Stone” has the answer. I‘ve learned to respect historical experience .
    First lesson I got from this “Mediterranean stone” was that my companion (kolauzeris) my “fisherman”is the man i must trust. He gradually gives me rope taking part to my dive, he feels my movements, he brings me back to fresh air. He knows and imagine everything about me. He also participates my “equalization”,”mouth feel”…bla-bla. Can’t be anybody. Skandalopetra is a PAIR dive.
    Second lesson I got is that my “stone” is patient. She (is a lady)waits, until I am ready to concentrate to the aim of my dive. Does not jealous, that I hold her in my hands, imaging surfing with dolphins deep blue. Believe me dolphins don’t care about …that “thermocline”. I bless my Yoga teacher that my senses look into my soul when freediving.
    That’s enough with lessons! Let’s enjoy that historic “no limits”, “smiling emersion” dive….of course in Eilat! I trust you Aharon.
    *Sorry I prefer female Brazilians. Karol is my inspiration!

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