Tag Archives: Monofin

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.

Step By Step

Great session yesterday evening! It was the first freedive training after our snowboard vacation, so we were curious high the high altitude training would have helped us with our performances. At the moment Sanne and I are trying to accomplish two things in the pool.

The first is to increase monofin technique. We already came from far with this one. The first quarter of this year was really dedicated to using the monofin and I’m glad to say that both Sanne and I are finally using the monofin in such an easy way that turning back to bifins for dynamic performance dives would only be done of nostalgia.

The basic technique is there and there is even room to play around and experiment with this technique in the form of amplitude changes, body position adjustment, power and kick cycles. We both agree that for the moment our best strategy to go by is a kick-kick-kick-glide cycle in the pool we are using now. As this is a 25 meter pool we need 3 complete kkkg cycles for one length, which feels good compared to effort put in.

Now we need to start working on our weighting stuff. With the technique in the body, it is time to start fine tuning it and because a neck weight is even more uncomfortable for me then it is for Sanne, it is time to fix this this month.

Our preferred way of propulsion: Waterway Glide Fin

The second part is increasing comfortable performance (CP) so that it reaches closer to our maximum distance (MX). Increasing performance is always a trick by itself, and we tried already a lot of methods in the past for this. Reading back all our training logs from the past years one thing comes to mind; speed! The one variable we didn’t use to much is the speed were we would go to the next step. We used weeks, number of repeated performances and other variables to determine if we could make the next step, and the one thing that comes to top that still could be tweaked is going slower with the steps we take.

We still maintain the idea that we should be able to perform near our limits all the time without any big warm-ups and strange techniques. So that together with a program of increasing our CP nearer to our MP, brings us the current schedule we are  doing.

My own comfort distance is a 40-45 meter dive. No contractions, still good technique and the ability to relax underwater at the end. As soon as I turn at 50, I tense my body but especially my mind. So my task is to make sure I can do 45 meter dives without any tension and yesterday was the first time I could accomplish this, which I’m very happy with. I’ve never been able to keep so relaxed at this distance, so a big break through for myself. As I’m not as experienced myself with the no warm-up routine as Sanne is, I do a total of 4 dives like this with around 2 minute rests between and that’s it for me. So at the moment my CP=45 while my MP=75, which brings my CP/MP ratio to 60%

Sanne is already much further with his no warm-up routine and his CP. Yesterday he did 95 meters and make it look so easy. He stopped underwater at 95, made a stop gesture with his arms and slowly surfaced. His MP=125 meters, so his CP/MP ratio is 0,76 which is already great. And we are just getting started. This one dive is everything Sanne does for performance training. He is already so tuned in this no warm-up routine that this is sufficient for him.

The rest of our training is dedicated to technique and helping other freedivers improve. So still a minimum time invested in performance training for maximum results and still a lot of time left to enjoy the water. I just love this method!

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.

Do It!

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We solved our lane-problem once again. But this would be an even better solution!

Yesterday was a good freediving session in the pool! Besides some good technique training it also reminded me of taking charge of your own destiny.

We share our pool with a scubadiving team and in the last weeks we claimed our own spot, putting a line in the water so that we would have a private lane. This evening another scubadiving team joined ours for a ‘deep’ training lesson in the 5 meter pool and they had hired half of the pool.

So when Sanne and I arrived, first thought was that we couldn’t do dynamic today. Way to many freedivers in the pool and no way they would let us take a lane for ourselves with so many divers. We decided to go for static and afterwards take the public pool.

I already was pissed about this and was thinking that I could be standing on the slope as we spoke. But then of a sudden, I told myself to shut up and just do it! I took the monofin went to the head of the diving team and told him we would only need a very small lane at the end of the pool. After some discussion we got approval and setup our training line!

Mission accomplished! Only thing left to do was a good training! Sanne suggested that I would start with my 4 times the distance we agreed on. And after a hard first successful distance, but with rotten technique and with some good coaching from Sanne, I managed to improve the other 3 performances in technique with each set. So pretty happy in the end! Another session like this and it is time to up the minimum set distance.

Sanne was next and we decided that he would do 3,5 laps, which is 87,50 meters. After 30 seconds of preparation he was underwater. Nice kick and glide! And very very nice to see the improvement of technique between now and two months ago. Really amazing accomplishment. He’s now looking relaxed underwater WITH a monofin on his foot.

Afterwards it was time for the not-so-newbies-anymore Kai and Levi (correct me if I’m spelling your names wrong!). After some very visual and mental training how the monofin technique must look like with some subtle hinting at some metaphores the two guys had no problem with their attempts with the monofin. It actually looked already better then their bi-fins attempt!

Mental note to self: Arrange that damn neck-weight!

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.

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.

Shark Sports: Dynamic Competition

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As you might have read in my previous posts, I am preparing to compete in the Shark Sports dynamic competition, this Saturday in Tongelreep, Eindhoven. I have no set goals for this competition, but I just have to prove my self a minimum I agree upon on the day itself. Furthermore I’ll be swimming with a new prototype for better alignment. In combination with the new monofin we now use, it’s going to be interesting for myself to just compete with the new setup!

Besides the fact of competing I’ll be doing safety as well, gives me a chance to wear my Gara 3000’s again.

Yesterday I’ve been setting up the streaming ability for the camera, which we are going to place behind the window at the 100 meter turn point in the pool. This should deliver a few nice images of competitors making their turn against the window. Hopefully the wireless connection is strong enough to reach that basement the Tongelreep created to view/analyze what athletes are doing underwater.

So if all is proceeding according our plans, than the competition will start at 14:00 CET, this is also the time that the LIVE internet broadcast will start. If you’re unable to join us at the Tongelreep in real life, then surf to http://shark-freediving.com/live/. I’ll start the first run, so I can do the safety for the other competitors. Hopefully it will be lot’s of fun and good atmosphere, see you all on Saturday 14:00 CET.