All posts by Sanne Buurma

Marsa Alam, Egypt

It was in September 2010, that my girlfriend and I had almost given up on our search for a new house and booked ourselves a holiday to Marsa Alam, Egypt. Of course Marieke found the perfect resort, which featured a long pier (long as in a 15 minutes walk) which dropped you right off the coral edge. Depth’s starting at 10 meters and gradually declining to 25-30 meters over a very wide span of the coast. So enough territory for us to explore by means of freediving.

I almost couldn’t go freediving during that holiday as I depended on a surgery that was planned only a few weeks before our departure, but luckily my recovery was very speedy and I was able to explore the depth’s of the sea. The marine life that was present on the house reef was just immense, the tourism really didn’t yet find this spot to ruin it for the marine life.

Our dream was to encounter dolphins in the wild and had been to places where the possibilities of that happening were present, but actually never encountered them. Our perseverance was definitely not unanswered as the 2nd day came and we ran into our first school of dolphins at the housereef. A rather small group (about 15 or so dolphins) passed by us when we resurfaced from a freedive. Surprised and overjoyed as we were I actually got some footage from them passing through the bay. Later in the holiday we had our second encounter with a large group of about 60 dolphins. I am glad to have freediving fins, because wow they are fast. As fast as they came, they disappeared into the distant blue, trying to keep up with them felt like running a marathon with a pair C4’s on my feet :).

Furthermore we encountered a wide variety of marine life just at the house reef, including; turtles, baracuda’s, a guitar shark, a blacktip reef shark, starry puffers, spade fishes, octopuses,moray’s and a lot more. It was a joy to be freediving there. For both me and Marieke we enjoyed the freediving there and the depths were more than enough for our satisfaction. Since our last trip to Cuba, Marieke had shown a great improvement to reach depth’s of 25+ meters and proved that overtime her abilities were still there.

Besides the freediving, we also try and up our scuba game every time we’ve got the opportunity. With our main goal of finally reaching a certain level for scuba which could take us to the more advanced diving places. Because currently it feels like we’re for ever stuck at the coastal stuff… we’d really have loved to dive at elphin stone, but this was not possible due to this problem. Never the less we booked our share of scuba dives and enjoyed the wide variety of marine life as well. During the scuba we encountered a guitar shark, some squids, a juvenile napoleon and a lot more. The team of scuba divers from the resort were very friendly and spotted our relaxed way of diving which was not what they regularly encounter, a nice compliment for the both of us.

Just an amazing week full of enjoyment for the sea and marine life, of course with a good deal of relaxing and resting as well. With a fully charged battery we came back from our holiday and about 3 weeks after we were home we signed a contract for the dream house we were looking for. Two of our dreams within the timespan of a month, what more to ask for…. encountering dolphins and our own house.

you can find a few of the pictures we shot underwater here on my facebook page.

Sidenote:
For those of you wondering why updating the sharkbait site has been low; the house & surgery have played a role, but on top of that I’ve developed a 2nd and 3rd addiction in the forms of snowboarding and skateboarding.

My ideas to solve the neck weight problem

This is the second article in a series about finding a better design for the weight needed in a dynamic pool freediving performance. The first article focussed on my discomforts and dislikings about the current design, which I blindly followed when I first started freediving. This article will focus on the way I intend to solve these problems into new solution and the design around it. In the 3rd article I will focus on the testing we’ve done so far with different setups, to see if they actually solve my problems. The 4th article will show how the design evolved through time by incorporating our findings from the test phases. Finally in the 5th article I hope to present a solution with an easy design, so other freedivers can try and build/buy one of their own and see if they benefit from it as much as I do.

Weight placement
To solve the weight placement, I chose to locate the weight around the lung area. It’s a bit of a tricky location and might be disadvantageous due to the flexing of the chest when inhaling and exhaling. Only tests will find out if I find this comfortable or not and if it doesn’t effect my normal breath-up.

Balancing
One of the solutions for unbalanced tilting that caught my eye is already widely used in the shipbuilding industry and is called a keel. The principle behind this solution is to spread the center of gravity, by placing a weight below the structural keel. For ships the use of a keel brings stability and improves the directional movement of the ship. My interest lies with the stability problem it solves; when a sail ship is sailing, the wind will make it tilt, the keel will counter act this by it’s weight. That’s exactly the behavior I want my prototype to have when I’m doing a dynamic performance. So when I tilt over, due to a slightly rotated push-off while turning, the weight underneath the chest will be counteracting this and ensure my alignment in the horizontal plane. So from the balance point of view it is best to place the weight underneath the body, or at least on the lowest point of the chest.

Optimal arm placement
In the 2 preceding points I opted for the placement of the weight around the lung area and at the lowest point of the chest in the water. This will solve my discomfort and inability to fully stretch the arms over my head as well. Because the area around my neck will be clear of any objects what so ever. Ofcourse the question remains; “Will the new weight placement introduce a new discomfort or is it easier to live with?”.

Commence the Testing
As we’re already testing and have been testing with a few different setups, I’m going to continue to test for a while longer to see if he new approach really brings what it should. I will report about my findings in a 3rd article as soon as I think it’s a good point in time to share it with you all. I’ve already shared some insight from my setup through pictures, but my experience still needs to increase a little more to share. How would you like to see the solution tested in comparison to the neck weight? Please leave your ideas in the comments and I’ll see if I can include this in the tests.

5kg in a vest to go under a blue seventy suit5kg vest under the blue seventy freediving suit

PS. Current design lacks the safety feature, so I cannot compare this in the tests.

Time for distance training

“Once the technique is dialed in, it’s time for getting some distance in with the monofin.”

…And that time is now, because the past few weeks we’ve been experimenting with technique and alignment, but both seem to be working out good enough to get into some practice. Last night and the past 2 weeks I’ve already dialed in some distance with the monofin, but in the next weeks it’s time to up the distance. Not the performance distance, but many many meters getting used to the monofin on my feet and getting the technique dialed into the core.

Getting ready for the turn

It’s a good thing to see that since we purchased the new glide monofin, we’ve booked a lot of progress in both technique and alignment. Our previous monofin just wasn’t made for this kind of use… Besides the new monofin, I also used the Blue Seventy suit to see how that influenced distance and technique. I think the suit influences both in a positive way. So I think I’ll be alternating between making distance with and without the suit, where I think that without the suit will bring me more strength and with the suit will help me get used to swimming with it.

Kick & Glide ratio adjustment due to Blue Seventy suit

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Since the new suit arrived I had a great first test run with it last week. The result of this test run was that I had an increase of about 10 meters with my current set of parameters concerning Kick & Glide ratio. As this was tested in the 50 meter pool in Eindhoven, I faced a new challenge last night in the 25 meter pool. With what kind of ratio will I continue,…

The glide phase is definitely longer and more efficient than before, which in turn means that I can make more use of that. On the other hand I’ve always been a high intensity freediver, where long rest periods would just make me restless. So where do you decide on, with what set of parameters do I want to continue? Those are the questions that I’ve been struggling with and discussing it with Jorg led me to the point where we think it’s fair and right that I give this an honest shot.

To find the proper parameters we set out 3 different types of K&G-ratio’s for the 25 meter pool:

  • 2 * Kick-Kick-Kick-Glide
  • 3 * Kick-Kick-Glide
  • 2 * Kick-Kick-Glide

2KKKG
2KKKG was the first one I tested, I suited up the gear and went for it. I could easily make the 25 meters with this ratio, where I couldn’t do that without the suit in the weeks before. A big difference lies in the push-off, where I can glide a proper distance before even starting the first K&G-cycle.

3KKG
3KKG was next and surprisingly I was almost doing the 2KKG. If I just had a little bit more patience and let the glide phase be a little longer I could reach the other side by only doing a 2KKG. So got eager to try it in a more real situation by trying a 75 meter run with a 2KKG ratio.

2KKG over 75 meter
The first lap was like I did in the run before, I barely made it but with enough patience it worked, then the second lap I was a little bit less patient and had to a one kick to reach the wall. The 3rd lane was yet again a little less patient and I had to make 2 kicks at the end to reach the wall.

Concluding
By testing these different parameters I’d like to give the 2KKG a good test over the months to come. I believe that I just need to adapt to the new style of waiting a little longer in the glide phase before I start a KG-cycle. Eagerness should be tamed and restlessness turned into confidence. So my plan for a period of 2-3 month’s of training will be to focus on this 2KKG ratio and see to which level I can tweak this ratio. If this works out like I want it to, then it saves me a great deal of energy and for sure my confidence will grow. Let’s wait and see what the month’s ahead have in store.

Training: new Blue seventy suit

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Today I brought my new Blue Seventy suit to the training pool Tongelreep in Eindhoven. It was time to put it to work in the training to get used to freediving with it. I’ve tried the suit on several occasions, I tried Eric van Riet Paap’s suit at the RMC in Wiesbaden just before my actual run and I tried using the same suit twice at our own dynamic competition. On both occasions I was not able to fully test it before the competition, so in Wiesbaden I decided to go with the familiair – without suit – and at our own competition I did try it in the comp, but then I had other side-effects keeping me from properly putting it to use.

Last week I picked up my suit at Eric’s home, while I was in the area for work related stuff. Today I could finally put it up for a test run and see how it flows through the water. I set my distance to the usual 97,5 meter and went for it without any breathup or preparation. It felt like I was doing my normal rhythm and agreed with myself I’d turn at 50 meters to see how I felt. Somehow it did feel that I was generating more speed and had longer glide phases. Kind of startled to see I was almost at the 100 meter mark I gave the abort sign – like I agreed upon with Jorg – and resurfaced. Looked around a bit and actually everything was very OK.

Jorg gave me the feedback that it looked like I was trying to sprint – as opposed to my normal speed – but I could sustain this tempo longer. I told him that I was just doing my normal rhythm and not exaggerated the motion in any way. So to see what the difference was between without suit and with the suit, I agreed to do 2 test runs where I’d do three kick-kick-kick-glide cycles. Normally this will take me to 25 meters, but now it took me to 35 meters !! Some suit I got here, very glad I gave it a good try finally.

Why I think the neck weight solution is wrong

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This is the first article in a series about finding a better design for the weight needed in a dynamic pool freediving performance. This article focusses on my discomforts and dislikings about the current design, which I blindly followed when I first started freediving. The next article in the series will focus on the way I intend to solve these problems into a new solution and the design around it. In the 3rd article I will focus on the testing we’ve done so far with different setups, to see if they actually solve my problems. The 4th article will show how the design evolved through time by incorporating our findings in the test phases. Finally in the 5th article I hope to present a solution with an easy design, so other freedivers can try and build one of their own and see if they benefit from it as much as I do.

The prototype I had recently tested, started out with an idea to get rid of my discomfort in wearing a weight belt around my neck. There are a few reasons why I dislike the neck-weight solution; Continue reading Why I think the neck weight solution is wrong

Monofin training distance

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Since last weeks training the distance of 87,5 meters is the set distance to go by for the coming 2 weeks after the holiday. Yestrday night and last tuesday I did them without any real problems and my mindset was prepared for a distance like that. I like to keep it that way and start freediving with a comfortable distance and build from there. If I up the distance to a new one it’ll be somewhere around 90-95 meters the next distance after that must be 105-110 meters, as I don’t want to end a run at the wall. Mentally a bad thing to have and I’ll keep in mind the words “a wall is there to make a turn” which I believe are the words from Danny Matherus.

Getting comfortable with the new monofin is the best thing that is happening at the moment. The technique is developing itself every time I try a new run and will only become more effective as I make more meters. The one thing that is making it uncomfortable at the moment is the neckweight. Because of the natural body reflex of making a contraction to get some air in, it also initiates the muscles in my neck to tense and by doing so the neckweight’s fit becomes unpleasant. Even if I would loosen the neckweight’s fit, it will still ‘choke’ me because my arms are pushing against them. So I have to start focussing on perfecting the design for my own weight system again and start training with that.

Overall I’m very pleased with the new monofin and training strategy, besides that it’s great to teach some diver students (who join us on Thursdays) the basics and fundamentals of freediving.

Grueling CO2 and dynamic turns

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It is always a good thing to train with other freedivers once and a while, which made me decide to visit the pool in Zeist again for a freediving training. I joined up with Eric van Riet Paap at 19:45 yesterday and we started out with a static session to be followed by a dynamic session later in the evening.

Static
Eric had been making schedules for CO2 to go along his static times, as for today he wanted to do his “7,5 minute”-CO2 table. I agreed to try and do this schedule as well, just for the challenge of it, because it has been a while since a did a real good CO2 schedule. We started with a warm-up of empty lungs statics and I was very pleased with my results on that since this had been a while as well. Eric did nice empty lungs statics around 2m 10s and I was able to pull off a 1m 54s empty lung static.

In the meantime the other freedivers joined us, Rik Rösken, Danny Matherus, Erik Skoda and Rem. On to the schedule » First to go was Eric and he managed to do this grueling schedule without any bail outs or real problems. So respect for that! After that I was given the opportunity to give it a try. The first part went good and the first increase in time didn’t pose a problem. Then came the second increase in time and I just had too much trouble getting there in combination with an upcoming headache, that I decided that this schedule is for another time to finish. Just like Eric said, these things you have to build up to a level like this. None the less this was an awesome training and felt so good to be doing a proper CO2 training again.

After the schedule we both did a maximum static to see how the CO2 table influenced the contractions. Eric and I both did a respectable time without real problems, for 4m 31s for Eric and 4m 44s for myself.

Dynamic
For myself I had the goals I set in my last post, to reach 87,5 meters and see how easy that feels and always do a turn at 75m even if it’s just the turn. Eric had a similair kind of set up for his training, so we decided to take turns at our set distances. Eric first did a nice 100 meter with a turn and was very pleased with the overall feel, improvement points for himself were the turnpoints. After that I did a 87,5 meter dynamic and it actually felt like something to train with the coming period. We both went at it again and succeeded in doing that extra turn at the end. Pleased with the results I called it a day and went home and just made it there before midnight.

I like to thank Eric and his fellow freedivers for having me over, it was a great learning experience and good overall results to feel good about.

Repetitive training & technique

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That was some proper training at the Tongelreep, Eindhoven last night. Both Jorg and I had been planning to continue the good training from the week before, so we were determined to get the alignment on the next level by getting some distance in.

Repetitive
Distance not in the maximum performance, but in just set distances and more repetitions. Jorg set his schedule to 37,5 meters and repeated this 4 times. I set my distance at 75 meters and repeated this 2 times. I think I should up the repetitions before upping the distance, but I am still to find the right distance to improve from. I’m thinking to up the set distance to 87,5 meters for several reasons:

  • I always have to make the turn
  • I surface at the side edge of the pool
  • Winning the mental game towards a wall

Technique
I have noticed that technique also improves my freediving time as follows: When I do the constant cycle of kicking, it will take about 17 seconds for 25 meters and when I do the kick-kick-kick-glide, it will take about 20-21 seconds for 25 meters. Later in the training I did the kick-kick-kick-glide again and now the technique was better because of a constant motion in the complete cycle, now the time was around 18-19 seconds for 25 meters. Same effort more speed… I have to focus on getting into the proper technique straight away for the motion cycle.

I’ve included the video from last training for Lubomir Stefanoff to see the progress on the alignment better.

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Goals
Alright the goals for next training are set then ;). I’ll be doing 2 or 3 times a 87,5 meters dynamic with monofin and see if this can be a thing I get consistent in. Rest of the training will focus on technique runs and times 25 and 50 meter runs.

Monofin: Horizontal alignment correct both ways now

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So it seems from the training last night that my horizontal alignment is getting somewhere. The past few weeks we have been training a lot with the monofin, just to get the proper movement. The hardest part was figuring out what amplitude to go by and how that feels opposed to what you have been doing for a while now.

But last night during training I was just doing my thing based on the outcome of previous weeks of monofin training and was glad to hear Jorg tell me he was amazed what he was observing. One of the best things to bring at a training is the video equipment, which made the video from the horizontal alignment instantly available to me. Now I’m able to connect the feeling I had during the 75m performance to the way it looks, which in my case is very valuable.

After the successful monofin laps, it was time to focus on the turn points as I still don’t feel all to comfortable about the energy I put into the turn right now. What seems to be happening is that while touching the wall at a certain point the push off from my feet is considerably higher on the wall than the initial touch down. This is due to the somewhat larger monofin that I have to swing around, but it was a thing we could get rid of when using bi-fins as well. So we put some effort in the turns and after about 8 times there were 2 turns that showed potential.

So currently I’m going to stick with the following turn technique when using a monofin:

  • When I see the T stripe I’ll glide towards the wall
  • I roll over on my right side
  • touch the wall with my right hand and compress legs inwards
  • While compressing I use my grip of the right hand still on the wall to prepare for swinging the monofin around
  • Swing the monofin around at about the same location as my hand placement
  • Decompress by starting to stretch out the arms
  • Fully decompress by the push off with both feet equally

This felt like the best motion for me to stick with. Any tips or suggestions are welcome.