All posts by Sanne Buurma

Improving to 108m PB with monofin

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20091127-Pim-Special-GogglesLast Friday I joined up with Daan, Judith and Pim for another freediving session at the Tongelreep. The pool was still swarming with swimmers doing laps after their performance in the Swim Cup, so we had to wait about 15 minutes. Of course we could easily use this time for some catching up ;), also Pim brought along the special underwater lensed goggles from Kerian Hibbs. Strange how your depth perception can be confused, when you’re not used to these goggles.

WaterWayGlideFinFreedivingAfter the catching up it was time to do some dynamic’s. I got to borrow the Waterway Glide Fin from Judith again, who swam a fantastic 150 meters with it last week. So from that point of view it was no excuse to not try and at least do a 100 meter dynamic with that monofin. They also made me promise to add a turn when I reached 100m…good thing!

Daan asked me if I liked a 2 minute countdown, but for now I j ust wanted to do it. So I got into the water and took a few deep breath’s and went for it. Coming up to 50 meters my technique was still constant and I had my first contraction at 45meters. I Made the turn and tried to get back into the rythem of kick-kick-glide, but in a strange way I couldn’t really focus on the rythem. So I think I was alternating between kick-glide & kick-kick-glide ;). Never the less, I reached 100 meters fairly easy and reminded myself to the promise I made, turn at 100m! I made the the turn, did a small kick and glided to 108 meters. Did my surface protocol and recovered fast, I quote Daan on my dynamic: “in speedo’s, without packing and not enough neckweight, coming up like he just did 75. The kid’s got talent” really flatters me and makes me confident again.

We had a great time training at the Tongelreep, atmosphere was good. We were also very eager to see Pim do some freediving training again, he managed his own prediction of 7 meters DNF and superseded it with at least another 40 meters 😉 Well done!

Daan broke his Big Fat Bastard 2 and when I write this already made a Big Fat Bastard 3, what a massive thing ;). Judith did a training of easy 50’s, as she already proved to be able to swim quite the distance, quoting Pim: “a distance Sanne and me can only dream of”.

Bull sharks at Cuba, Santa Lucia

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Last week I came back from a 9 day-holiday in Santa Lucia, Cuba. The location on Cuba was located at the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere about a 3 hour drive west from Holguin. Although the weather throughout the holiday could have been less rainy, on the day and times we planned some activities the weather was on our side.

20091111-Bullshark-01One of the most breath taking moments we had in the holiday was the opportunity to go scuba diving with bull-sharks. As we were down 25 meters below the surface at a location called La Boca, it was a marvel to look at the bull sharks being hand fed by the diving master. Of course it’s even better to have seen them in their natural environment, without the help of a human touch… But I think wikipedia also describes the bull sharks as dangerous to humans, so for me this was more than a good chance to see them really close. When I write really close I’m talking about within arm’s reach, but I think ‘don’t touch’ had the upper hand in my mind ;).

20091111-Wreck-La-BocaThe day after we had the shark feeding we tagged along to go to La Boca again but now for some freediving, as there also was a wreck on the bottom. The fore was situated approximately 8 meters below, going all the way down to 25 meters for the aft of the ship. As known with wrecks they are invested with fish, having made their habitat of this ship once roaming the seas. The location also featured a tricky timing when you want to freedive without the currents of the changing tides, we had a window of about an hour. It was a very nice spot to go freediving, a lot to see and a perfect training ground to do some different depth’s.

20091111-Cuba-Escalera-Lion-FishIt was a very good training & learning holiday for my girlfriend Marieke, who’s enjoying freediving more and more since our trip to Dahab and Dominican Republic. During this holiday she asked me if she could do some statics to improve her breath hold time and confidence. So this was her first ever static and within 2 or 3 tries she managed to go up to a time of 2m39s. Most impressive and makes me proud! As for depth training, during our trips to Dahab she had been down to the entrance of the fish bowl at the Canyon at 17 meters deep, but at the time she wasn’t confident enough to do more. Now she knows that she could at least hold her breath longer than a minute, her confidence gained. As we were diving the wreck at La Boca she kind of had her mind set on reaching somewhat greater depths, I agreed to swim down to 20 meters with her following me. When I see with how much ease she does these depth’s, I thought to myself there is more than ‘just’ 20 meters.

So later that day when we tagged along another scuba diving boat, we got to go freediving at the same place the scuba divers went down to ‘the stairs’ location. A beautiful coral featuring a stretched coral in the shape of stairs starting from a big plateau at 8 meters, the first drop took you down to 20 meters for the 2nd plateau. The 2nd drop went down into the abyss, which made it an amazing location to freedive.


Marieke now had her new 20 meter personal best and she was easily doing dives to the 2nd plateau, she watched me do a 27 meter dive and was inspired to try a deeper dive as well. So now I took the safety skills acquired in my freediving courses and applied them to her freedive into the deep. I waited at the surface to the point she was 16-18 seconds down and followed her down. At around 15-18 meters I watched her turn and swam up with her to the surface again, where she did a perfect surface protocol and showing a very much easy freedive down to 25 meters in 1 m19s 😮 . All I can say is that I can really learn from Marieke, she showed me a really relaxed and at ease freedive, where-as for myself I tend to sprint down too much.


This was a perfect holiday filled with a lot of under water time, which we both very much love. Above the surface we had a great time at the resort as well, although for our opinion hotels can leave their animation crews at home, because enjoying the rest, sun, reading, sketching and peace of mind isn’t working when these guys are around ;).

100 a new PB with monofin

There I was at my weekly training with Jorg, who had just been doing some serious improvements on his monofin training. Only a few days ago we went to the competition in Liege and there I made my first steps into the monofin world”with a 75 meter personal best (PB). The feeling I kept from the competition, was eagerness for more training and perhaps even distance ;).

Sanne swimming with the Leaderfins Hyper mono-fin
Sanne swimming with the Leaderfins Flyer Pro mono-fin

After Jorg had just done a nice 50+ meters with the monofin, I took over the tight-foot-pocketet-momofin and sat down on the side of the pool. No preparation and just went for a 50 meter dynamic with new kick-kick-glide technique from last Sunday. At 50 meters everything was very OK and I decided to see what 75 meters would feel like with this more relaxing technique. At 75 meters, everything still seemed to be very OK and the turn was made before I could even think of resurfacing. It was at 95 meters that I first felt a little urge to resurface, which I did, just to be safe. Recuperation was easy like I did a 60-75m dynamic and I remember Jorg noting, that this was the most relaxed he’d ever seen me swim with a monofin.

As opposed to Saturday this was a huge difference, altough I was not totally doing the kick-kick-glide all the time, it payed off and leaving me with a brand new PB of 100 meters with a monofin in dynamic (DYN).

Last time I did a 100 meter dynamic actually also was more than over a year ago, 26th of january 2008 to be exact… Overall this leaves me with a good feeling and motivation for the time ahead. Clearly the facts are pointing out to myself that doing a step back to take a break can really refresh you.

My Video’s from the Liege competition

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Last night I edited the video material we shot at the Liege competition last weekend.

The first video is Dynamic with Fins (DYN), a first timer for me at a competition to use a monofin.


The second video is Dynamic No fins (DNF), especially focussed on technique and minimal amount of strokes to reach 25 meters.


Although my mission was to reach the 25 meters in 2 strokes, the positive buoyancy made it harder to accomplish. I took 2,5 strokes for 25 meters, but the speed is still at the level I like it to be.

Enjoy the videos.

Time for a change: Testing at Liège competition

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Since I made a good comeback last month in the Wiesbaden competition, I have been training with a few different things. Yesterday – Sunday 25th of october – I competed in the competition in Liège, Belgium, amongst a whole bunch of fellow Dutch freedivers. It was nice to meet up with all dutch freedivers again, met a few freshly trained freedivers as well. Good to know the dutch competition interest is still around!

It was the perfect time and place to give my change of training methods a better test, as in Wiesbaden I was more focussed on proving myself I was able to do solid performances.

Dynamic with Monofin

Getting ready for the turn
Getting ready for the turn

The major change in dynamic with fins for me was to go for monofin. I have been training with it, but never did a competition with it. In training, my technique has been far from good and that might have been a reason as well to never show it to anyone else in a competition ;). But as we’re trying to change some things over time, It was a “What the heck” moment which made me decide to just do it!

Preparing myself for a push off in a 1m 25cm deep pool at one side (2m 15cm at the other end), I was surprised to see that the push off was fairly good. I had trouble finding the rythm and balance, but after lane one I was up for a turn. I remembered Pim pointing out in the briefing that there was a ledge of 10cm’s, so reminded myself last minute “Ow yeah, touch above the ledge!”. So I swam up a bit and made proper turn, trying to find balance and rythm yet again. On to the ‘harder’ turn at the shallow part of the pool, all the way there I visualized how I would try and make a flat turn, which I managed to do fairly well. But after the push-off the wall, I drifted sideways and my balance was kinda not there anymore. On my way to the 75m, I decided to call it a day as my technique is still failing me to make it a relaxed and easy run. Although I wasn’t out of breath, I think it was a good thing to make 75 meter my first monofin personal best 😉

Dynamic without fins: 2 strokes or …
20091025-Liege-DNF-01My mission for DNF was to try and make it across the pool in 2 strokes, which I had been training in the Tongelreep last Thursday. After the start I felt that the somewhat shallow pool made it harder to be properly balanced and I felt my legs drifting upwards. At the 2 strokes mark, I did not make it far enough to just glide the last bit so had to make an arm stroke to get there. The way back to 50m’s was no different and after the turn at 50 it became more vital to pay attention to technique. Because I had been focussing on that quite a lot lately, I found that holding my hands flat on my legs after the arm stroke did help in gliding further. So on my way to 75m’s I usually feel myself getting a bit sloppy on technique, so I put in the extra effort to keep the technique on a good level. All the way to 75m’s my technique was proper and it all felt good. I decided to make a turn and push off the wall and resurface. Immediately after I surfaced, the safety guy gave me the resting board and I made a clean surface protocol. A training in a training to be honest, as the line wasn’t strong enough to support a freediver hanging on it, I decided to try the board for a change at the deeper part of the pool.

All in all this was a super training session, I learned a lot from my efforts that day. Dynamic with monofin was far from perfect, but did taste like I could do more. Also on DNF I made progress, but need to have more neckweights to be able to work with different pools.

Another lesson I learned and put to practice really well was the fact I was happy with a 4 minute 20 seconds static. With most people whom I explain this to it’s an eye-brow raiser, but this is where I am at for the moment. I need to have fun in freediving and anything more the 3 minute 30 seconds was good for today, so I’m happy with it!

At the end of the day I borrowed Daan’s monofin for a quick test. Did 50 meters with it on my normal style, which already felt so much better than my own monofin. After that Daan and Jorg asked me to try the kick-kick-glide technique and that went surprisingly well. Made to the 25m’s in 3 kick-kick-glide’s which Daan explained was a good tempo. So to get back on a comment I got from Eric van Riet Paap on facebook, yes I will be switching to monofin for now and really would like to get a glide monofin.


This all sure taste’s like more and gives me some new opbjectives and new energy to train hard! Most importantly I had a lot of fun at a freediving competition.

The number 23 | Section 4: Competition day

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The 4th and final section of the number 23 project, was the competition day. Although my enjoyment was already good after a successful training project, the thought of competing again and meeting up with other freedivers is the bonus to the project.

20091003-RMC2009-01After arriving and getting myself inscribed at the competition, I walked away from the stand with the number 35 on my hand. After settling for a nice spot in the pool, the sun made us decide to relocate to a spot without direct sunlight. Jorg and I met up with Eric van Riet Paap and Erik Skoda, whilst doing so Andreas Hiemeyer and Pim Vermeulen also joined the conversation. Good to see others freedivers again and hearing about their progress in training and well being in general.

Time to check out the start times and wait for static to commence. Whilst the static was underway, I spoke to Eric about a Blue Seventy suit. He’d let me try out the suit to see if it made any difference for me. After trying it on I swam a few test laps, but couldn’t find my peace when I was underwater. I don’t know if it was the current in the pool or the change of wearing a suit, but I got out of the suit and did another lap. This lap was reassuring me of how I had been training before, was the way to go in the competition.

20091003-RMC2009-04In my preparation for static I started with a 1 minute empty lungs and a 3 minutes full lungs static. Both of the preparation statics were very relaxed and at ease, with no real mind troubles and sabotaging toughts. Fueled by confidence I started my static performance. Contractions started at a normal period and at 3 minutes 30 seconds I was in my own safe zone, but could continue to the next taps. After 5 minutes and 12 seconds I really felt good about it and resurfaced in a clean recovery. Whilst looking at the judges I felt like a million bucks, the white card was presented and Jorg, Marieke & Eric congratulated me on my performance. That felt great!

20091003-RMC2009-07The time in between the static and dynamic passed fairly quickly as I’d been talking with Michal Risian, which I’d never met in real life.

I announced 60 meters, a distance which is a perfect marker for myself. Usually between 45 and 60 meters I experience the harder part. Now I knew that 60 meters was more than enough and I surpassed this distance in a determined way. 20091003-RMC2009-05As my stroke count varied between 2,5 and 3 strokes, I started burping my way to the 90 meters. As I did not really feel at ease with all the burping and decided to call it a day at 91 meters. Yet again to make myself fel really good about my performance.

I really enjoyed the competition in Wiesbaden and meeting up with all the other freedivers. It had been a while, but taking the step back to take a brake really helped me regain myself. Now the confidence levels are up and I’m thinking of joining another competition at the 25th of October.

The number 23 | Section 3: Technique, Speed, Stroke & Depth

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As this was the section in which I would focus on the technique aspect of my freediving, I put all of these into my training. The specialized training section focuses on:

  • Technique
  • Speed
  • Stroke
  • Depth

This week and last week I didn’t really wanted to push my mental limits in preparation for the competition, so I chose to only go for the static in the pool which resulted in a nice reassuring time of 5 minutes 09 seconds. Enough for me to still enjoy and reassuring me on the current path.


Arms stretched OK
Arms stretched OK

Tuesday I put all my effort in getting my new arm stretch in my system. I have to keep telling myself now, RIGHT over LEFT and Lock right thumb. But today Jorg and I went out for the speed, stroke and depth training and by my own surprise I kept doing it the other way around… So it’s not hard coded yet, but I’ll give it some time and all be well. The other focus point is my leg stroke, which used to have a huge scissor in the technique and on top of that I might not have put the maximum force in the stroke at the time. So tuesday I really focussed on these points by thinking back to my breaststroke fins training. Which really helped me on finding the proper point of scooping the water.

Speed check
For the speed check I had been timing my dives and after today’s training with Jorg we decided on the following times, divided into the different parts for DNF:

  • Inhale & immerse: 3 seconds
  • Push off & lane: 25,5 seconds
  • Turn: 1,5 seconds
  • Coming up & Elbow on edge: 1,5 seconds

warp#2: MetroWe calculated the time I had to do over a 50 meters DNF in a somewhat slower execution style: 3 + 25,5 + 1,5 + 25,5 + 1,5 = 57 seconds. And as the calculation was put to the test, it actually was a perfect hit, where I did it in 57 seconds exact. Even though the DNF I do is somewhat slower as I am capable of doing (Push-off and Lane in 22 seconds), this totally makes it feel more relaxed. For now we set the speed check at: 50 meters / 57 seconds = 0,877 m/s.

Strokes count
Tuesday I counted my strokes in a 20 meter pool and came to 2 strokes with the new alignment weight of 3 kilograms around my neck. Today in the 25 meter Tongelreep pool I did two different speeds and the slower one which I’d like to go by now takes me about 2,5 strokes and the somewhat quicker version I’ll need 3 strokes. Which already is a big improvement and showing the alignment is working out.

Depth control
altimeterAs an added control measure Jorg also spotted my depth, which varied throughout the training of today, but overall this had to do with the lack of reference as the 25 meter pool in the Tongelreep is also 5 meters deep. I think I’m much better in a pool of about 1,8-2 meters in depth to control my depth and not loose too much effort on that point.

The number 23 | Section 2: Alignment & Final preps

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I just came back from a good training in the Fitness Center here in Veldhoven, I tested the new alignment setup and could actually swim the same speed with less arm & legstrokes. And for my feeling the intensity is the same, I just need less strokes… And this is interestingly the same as I discussed with Jorg yesterday.

I combined my video material from last week Thursday and this weeks Wednesday alignment training. The material shows me 2 times without any weight, 2 times with 800 grams around my neck, 1 times with 3 kilograms around my neck and the last one is with 3 kilograms around the neck and 1 kilogram around my waist. Although I still float up, it feels a lot more relaxing. I’d like to float up as I still need to resurface for safety reasons, although I’d like this alignment a little further after Wiesbaden. Now Enough factors have changed and I don’t want to mix it up to much. Thanks Remko for letting me borrow your 3 kilograms neckweight ;). I’ll have to make my own again soon.


This week I also settled the medical checkup that you need to show at the competition. Everything was fine and there were no irregularities, it’s always reassuring that nothing’s wrong. On the night we check the alignment, I got into the static pool for a small sessions. To jorg’s surprise I was still able to amaze him with a clean 5 minute 9 seconds static. So far my schedule is a great journey in preparation for Wiesbaden on October 3rd.

The number 23 | Section 2: Pyramid, Alignment & Technique

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I just finished a great Pyramid schedule, which was built up for 40 meter lanes:

Qty x Distance [m] | Start every [mm:ss]

  • 3 x 40 m | 01:50
  • 3 x 40 m | 01:35
  • 3 x 40 m | 01:20
  • 2 x 40 m | 01:10

It proved to be a harder schedule as I thought. I just couldn’t get lower than the 1 minute 35 seconds » thus I finished the rest of the lanes with starting every 1 minute 35 seconds.


My Current 800 grams Neckweight
My Current 800 grams Neckweight

Halfway into the second part of my 23 schedule, I have had a more technical and oberservative character. Continuing with my effort in getting my alignment right, it seems I’ve been way off for a while now. I’m currently swimming with only 800 grams neckweight, goggles and a swimtrunk. Last week when I visitid Eric in Zeist, I tried to add 500 grams, which already felt better. But last Thursday when Jorg and I were analyzing my alignment in the way I was describing it on this website, we actually found out I wasn’t aligned all that well 😮

These conclusions were made after seeing the video material shot during the training, which clearly indicate that I’m highyl buoyant and will surface like a float on a fishing rod. The reason I believe we didn’t spot this over the years, is due to the higher speed (~ 1m/s) I’m using whilst executing my DNF’s.

I’ve added a goal for this week, which is; getting the alignment right. Our first guess as to what additional weight should be placed around my neck, would be in the range of 2 – 2,5 kilograms. Hopefully we’ll have this settled on Thursday during the pool session.


Arms stretched BAD
Arms stretched BAD
Arms stretched OK
Arms stretched OK

Another strange phenomenon I’ve had in my technique, seems to be easily repaired by crossing my arms the otherway. The way I’m doing it now, causes my left arm to stay a little bend, while the other arm is fully stretched. As Jorg had spotted it again last Thursday in the Tongelreep, he had a good thought about it to just change the arm which rests on top. This seems to get rid of the bend in my left arm, so I’ll be focussing on getting this into my technique the coming weeks.

The Number 23 | Section 1: Successful

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Tuesday evening I had planned my goal realization for Section 1 to take place at the pool in Zeist, where I was able to train with Eric van Riet Paap, Danny Martherus and Jouke van Riel.

2009-RMC-the-number-23It is a good pool featuring a small area, shallow depth and 27 degrees water, which made it perfect for static. Danny and Jouke started with their static CO2 tables, almost not getting distracted by my GoPro bottom camera ;). Eric and I teamed up for a static session, starting out with a small empty lungs of a minute. After that I did my first real static since a long while and it actually felt quite good. I didn’t really give Eric a chance when I aborted my mission and directly surfaced, only to find out I was 35 seconds away of my goal. So, lesson learned and made a deal with Eric that whenever I wanted to know the time I would ask and after that I would hold for at least two additional safety taps. Going into my second attempt, I felt really relaxed and didn’t start having trouble until 4 minutes 15 seconds. After that I heard Eric telling me that 5 minutes was also a good point for me to focus on and I continued to relax. At 5 minutes and 3 seconds I decided that I reached my training goal and that gave me a fantastic overall feeling. As a side note for myself, this is actually the time I should start the real fight phase.

Eric and I swopped places and he started his static session. As he’s adapting a new technique, which includes shallow breathing through the snorkel, Eric does some very impressive empty lung statics. Ranging from 2 minutes to 2 minutes 30 seconds, but he told me 3 minutes 30 seconds is his best in empty lungs. Now it was time for him to test his packing through a snorkel technique and went for a full lungs static. Looking fairly easy and relaxed all the way, somewhere around 5 minutes contractions seem to have kicked in. I reassured him with the time and he totally relaxed, arms of the ledge and on a mission to 6 minutes 4 seconds. Good static!

Next up was my goal in Dynamic No Fins with a goal of 80 meters. I got ready prepared my goggles and neck weight and entered the water, I added an addition weight around my waist of 0,5 kilograms. After a good start, I was nearing the 50 meters and my mind was ready to give up on me. But I felt strong after my good static time, which convinced me to continue. After turning at 50 meters, the urge completely vanished and the goal of 80 meters was easily within reach. Only one good turn at 75 meters a few arm strokes and I’d done it. It has been a long time, but this actually felt liberating and puts me in the position where I had been waiting for almost a year. Ready for more!

Eric-Riet-Paap-DYNEric did his dynamic with fins schedule with a nice full pocket mono-fin, with the pockets placed under an angle. He started of with a new technique by using an arm-stroke in between the mono-fin kicks. Which actually doesn’t look all that tiring when you look at it, he made it to 136 meters which impressed me yet again ;). Eric continued with a distance schedule for dynamic and I shot a few underwater videos from it. Jouke was training his technique on the mono-fin and getting a proper balance for his Orca suit. But I can hear him say that he didn’t find the proper weight balance yet.

I would like to thank the people form Freediving Utrecht for having me over in their pool. I had a really good time, freediving, chatting, catching up and of course I reached my goals!