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.

Need A Push

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Another good training done and while the physical training is going pretty well, I noticed while driving to home I didn’t have a real mental challenge. When I do static training it is always mental, but with dynamic the focus has been to technique only.

So it’s time to change this the next time. I need more mental training and combat to overcome some ‘fears’ I have in my head.

Mental note to self: transform some of the leg training pain you can endure into freediving pain…

Tingling sensation can mean 2 different things

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The other night I was coaching Jorg while holding his breath at the hottub pool in the Tongelreep Eindhoven. He was experiencing his normal barrier and trying all kinds of different preparation techniques to break out of it as you can read here. As we know from our previous competition and other training sessions in the hottub, it can be very hot in there :D. This high temperature poses a range of problems which seemed easy to explain why they happen, but it turns out I was wrong about 1 of them.

When I was coaching Jorg, the time I spent in the pool doing nothing but coaching increased to a range of 25 minutes orso. That’s when I started sensing the same thing as when I’d have vasoconstriction. But although I assumed it was a free pass into having the vasoconstriction, I learned that it is actually vasodilation and thus the exact opposite of the thing you want happening with freediving.

To prove the theory I decided on doing a schedule to counteract the vasodilation and see after how many times the tingling sensation would fade away. So I did 1 minute 30 seconds breath holds and in the last 5 seconds I’d release all my air, after that I’d surface and immediately take one deep breath again and do another 1m30s. Normally with this schedule you would get the vasoconstriction kicking in at around 6 or 7 times.

The test showed us, that after only 3 times into this schedule the vasodilation was counteracted and I didn’t have the tingling feeling anymore. Theory proven and a lesson learned ;).

Mental Barrier

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As it was Carnival this week, we skipped our usual Tuesday CO2 training and focused ourselves for the Thursday pool training. This also gave my body a chance to recover from the big crash on Monday with my Snowboard.

When we arrived at the pool we saw three times as many people as normal. Extra club in the pool, so no real room for our monofin training today! Damn… I hate it when we can’t execute a plan. Almost we packed our bags and went home, but I’m glad Sanne convinced me of a good static workout.

I did several experiments while holding my breath and it seems that the 2nd and 5th static felt the best during this training. On all, except one, breath hold I did no preparation what so ever. Just talking until 5 seconds before the start and down. On the one I did prepare with some good breathing I just noticed no difference at all during the hold.

It’s clear that my statics are suffering from a mental barrier in the end and I need to find a good work around to break this barrier that I already have for 8 years or so. Strange thing is that I don’t have this barrier when doing dry statics. Time to think about some static exercises that break the barrier in the coming weeks.

Monofin Flow

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We’re getting there. After some weeks of training with the monofin, it’s clear that Sanne and I are getting somewhere with the monofin. For the first time it’s starting to feel like it’s helping our performances instead of costing more energy then with bifins. I even had a crazy thought of wearing the monofin in the open water, wow!

Of course there is still a long way to go, but the great thing is that we documented the whole learning curve here. We know exactly how we started, what we did wrong, how we fixed and improved it. An essential learning curve we had to go through and which could help other people as well.

The main kick is now pretty clear to us and it takes around 2-3 kicks to get in the right movement and flow of it. Now we have to practice this a lot so that we can go in the flow immediately, so that we can also start experimenting with kick-glide cycles.

Next is also starting and turns. And if these are also in the pocket it’s time again to also look at performance. For now we alternate with the fin and the video camera every 150 meters of training, and it works pretty well. Maybe we post a video in the coming weeks about our progress. In the mean time, we just keep practicing, practicing and practicing.

Hold It!

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After another painful dentist session this week, it was a no go for the in-water training. Too much distraction by the pain prevents me of doing long workouts where I need dream-modus to enjoy it enough so that I can endure the pain.

So, instead of some long workouts I decided to test a few short workouts to see where I’m at. All without warming-up:

  • Walking while holding my breath: 56 seconds
  • Running while holding my breath: 28 seconds
  • Walking with neutral lungs: 40 seconds
  • Walking with empty lungs: 26 seconds
  • Holding my breath while watching TV, 20 minutes after dinner: 2:38 minutes
  • Holding my breath immediately after waking up: 2:58 minutes

I’m not writing down how long I could hold my breath on my bicycle and while driving in a car. Because that is stupid and dangerous and of course I would never do that!

Static competition in Nieuw Vennep

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Last night I drove out to Nieuw-Vennep for a static competition organized by Nanja van den Broek’s organization Enker. The traffic didn’t pose a problem as I anticipated, so I was even in time for the inscription and judge speech. Although one judge was sick and one other freediver had called in sick, the cafetaria was filled with competing freedivers. Jorg was supposed to be joining as well, by after having another session with the dentist the pain was just too much to bare and he decided to stay home. It’s great to meet people in real life, after you spoke with them over the internet, although sometimes it takes a few minutes to recognize someone (Sorry Frank 😉 )

After everybody was inscribed and preparations were made to the pool, the competition started with the safety freedivers doing their own static’s first. After that Judith van de Griendt and Mark Keijzers were the organization’s safety. Besides all the gadgetery display, the competition was fun to be competing at. Exchanging experiences and learning from other freedivers is what comes first at these events, even if you don’t compete or compete against the big guns it will always be good thing to join for the learning experience. During the event I also grabbed my Android phone and tried make something out of the live coverage for You can watch the material in my Ustream channel here.

I promised myself the minimum of 3m30s would be satisfactory as I agreed upon with Jorg. Got into my Elios suit, which felt strange as I was almost the only one wearing one of those these days. I watched Eric and Jouke’s performance before I entered the water and eased into the competition area. Had a few laughs with the safety and started my breath up at 2 minutes before official top. Slow breathing with a normal rythem of 5 seconds in and about 20-25seconds air out always feels comforting. One or two seconds after official top I submerged and immediately the thoughts came into my head: “Here we are again, so why am I doing this?” Time to get rid of those thoughts and replace them by the experiences I had during my work day. Worked pretty well. At about 2 minuntes the contractions started and Not much later Mark Keijzers tapped my 1st tap @ 2m30s. Tap 2 and 3 came pretty quickly and I had reached the satisfactory level for myself. It all felt ok and I did two extra taps as I had promised myself and Eric to take a few extra contractions. Came up clean and did my surface protocol, waited for Erik Skoda to present my white card and there it was another mission accomplished.

It all might sound strange for people who used to know me as a guy who could static’s over 5-6 minutes and now not even being able to do so. But this has everything to do with me getting back on my feet after a succesful step back. I take things slowly and keep the fun factor high, hopefully this way I can get myself to fight off some more contractions. As long as I’m willing to do this for my own benefit and not for expectations of others, which is mostly the thing when my head starts thinking on automatic-mode ;).

Nanja thanks for organizing a nice event and let me express myself in your own words: “I always love competitions like these!”

Upping the CWB schedule

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The CWB training progresses in a good way, yesterday I upped the schedule to starting 1min. 45sec., where as last week I started every 2 minutes to do 50 meter lanes. I did 4 lanes and noticed that the last time my legs were not giving me any propulsion, so I had to rely on the last few meters crawling only with my arms. So the focus for next week should be keeping the time at 1m45s, but then trying to do more lanes, testing and pushing my legs for more. Hopefully the recuperation time will be sufficient to let me continue doing 5 or 6 lines of 50m CWB.

Jorg also upped his schedule and made it worth his time as well. After the schedule of 25 meters, I spotted for him while he did a few maximum attempts of CWB. Starting out with about 30 seconds of CWB, he upped it by grueling himself to 39 seconds and about 44 meters CWB. Good intense training where the mental factor was the winner for Jorg.

After the nice schedules it was time for some small monofin technique training. Without any weights and holding the arms alongside the body, we tried training for the proper execution of the motion. The points I have to work on are trying to start the motion in the pelvis area, where I now start the motion somewhere half-way my back, it should start at the pelvis and then work the rest.

CO2 Headache

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It’s clear that my crawl without breath work is helping! I’m glad to notice a few things now that I’m busy with these schedules:

  1. Sticky; the more you are in the water, the better you can ‘feel’ the water. While doing a crawl in pulling myself forward, it gets easier and easier to make the water more sticky.
  2. No more shoulder pain; normally when I did crawls while not on a schedule, I felt a little ‘knack’ in my right shoulder while doing the crawl motion. I’m not sure if the added weightlifting helped in fastening my shoulder again, but for sure it feels great to swim injury free
  3. Zen State; because you swim the same lane over and over again, it gets easier and easier to get in a sort of Zen state, where I forget what I’m doing and am more in a dream state than in active fighting mode.
  4. CO2 Tolerance; it’s clear that if you do repeated schedules of CO2 work, your body learns to work with higher levels of CO2 and work gets easier and easier every week. Not only that; I also find after doing 20-25 minutes of doing CO2 work, that things are really getting easier.  The spleen at work!
  5. CO2 Headache; after a few minutes after finishing the workout, a headache turns up. Not really bad, but it’s a clear sign that the training is working and the CO2 is giving me this ‘pain’. Good to know that it works.

CWB: 75m – where did that come from!?

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Yesterday I went out for a training in the Tongelreep with Jorg and CWB was the exercise on the schedule. We both started out doing our own type of CWB-exercise; Jorg did the version where he’d do 25 meters and start every 1m25s, I did 5 x 50 meters and starting every 2 minutes.

Then it was time for me to coach Jorg and see what he was capable of in maximum attempts of CWB. Very impressive to see he’s improving a lot in training. He started out with a 35 meters CWB and after that he did a 40m. To trigger that extra bit for him, we varied the approach a bit and swopped to trying to swim a full lane (50m) with only one breath or two breath’s, which made it in all a very good training for him.

Finally Jorg wanted me to do a 60 meters CWB, which has been a while since I’d done that, I started out as planned for the 60 meters, having some trouble approaching the 50 meter mark, but after the turn it all felt good again. I just kept in the same pace and thin I just had a safety stop at 75 meters, just to be sure. Where the hell did that come from 😮 ;). Overall it felt very good and certainly room for more, so maybe next week I’ll be upping the game and try for a longer Crawl Without Breath.

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