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 ;).
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.
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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
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 … My 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.
In freediving air intake, consumption and efficiency are key factors in reaching longer breath holds in both dynamic as static performances. Although you might think that the more air intake you do will equal a longer breath hold, this is only partly true. There are a lot of other variables in play which make it a specialism to master as a freediver. Consider the difference between a dynamic and a static freedive on the level of aerobe or an-aerobe. Or even simpler, consider the difference in a dynamic pool freedive and a dynamic depth performance. In this article the focus is on the air intake.
One of the variables that make a difference – in any type of freediving – is the air intake and how comfortable you are with the ammount of air in your lungs. I am not even discussing the difference in lung volume different freedivers have. I’ll dissect the air intake into three topics:
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Last night I went out to the Tongelreep for some freediving training as it’s thursday again. Jorg only just got back from holiday and pointed out that he would be joining again next week, but both Kostas and Yugyug were there to join me in training.
I didn’t really set up a schedule for me to work on, but I did want to do a few crawl without breath’s, DNF’s and some static at depth. Unfortunenately the Tongelreep was on summerschedule, so the 5 meter deep pool was not available to us at this time. We had to switch to the 50 meter official competition pool section to do our training. This is the section also used with the dynamic’s during the 4th dutch Apnea Open. The pool is 3 meters deep and has a lot of lanes available, but it’s rather hard to get a lane to yourself » so you’ll always have to be alert to swimmers going about their own business.
So Yugyug and I agreed to start with some warm-up laps, which for me meant doing about 4 lanes of 50 meter crawl without breath. Yugyug was doing 25 meters of DNF’s to get his system prepped. After our warm-up Kostas joined up with us and it was time for the static’s at 3 meter depth. Yugyug and Kostas did really good static’s and I got inspired to do a static as well. I agreed with Kostas on their tapping strategy and told him I would see how things progressed but I set the max to 3 minutes. This all went really good, I wasn’t all that relaxed as the last time with Jorg I had a good 3 minutes at 5 meters, but in general I did not have a hard time taking the contractions for the last 60 seconds.
After the static session I had a go at DNF’s over 50 meters, which had been a while in a 50 meter pool. First lap was progressing good, but confidence was lacking a bit so for safety reasons I went up at 40 meters, as I was training alone at this moment. But after resurfacing I instantly could feel and notice that this safety measure altho good to do, no where near any out of breath signs ;). So as confidence was up again I started at the other side and did another DNF run back and this time the 50 meters went away easily again. Although touching the wall at 50 meters did feel as a relief, I think that’s only due to the fact I haven’t been doing this at all lately.
Kostas decided to go for a DYN over 50 meters after he first tried 2 x 25 meters to warm up. He came up easily, but one of the things to note here was that he’d decreased his swimming speed and now did a dynamic over 50 meters in about 1 minute 10 seconds, which he said did make him more comfortable. We’ll see how this progresses over the weeks to come.
Overall we had a quality training, learning a lot and having fun. I’ll try and write an exercise post about the crawl without breath to give more insight in this good training exercise. So stay tuned.
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This has been a question for me since I found out that a lot of freedivers just close their eyes when freediving. My normal way of conduct is different per discipline:
Static – I start out with my eyes closed, but when the contractions or the boredom starts I usually open my eyes for distraction or no real reason and I’ll be looking around the pool floor.
Dynamic with or without fins – I always have my eyes open, if I close them I’ll end up in lane 8 instead of lane 1 where I started. I did try a few times to close them, but it’s a must to re-open them every few meters to stay on track, which in my perception is not bringing extra relaxation to my game.
Depth disciplines – I generally do not close my eyes when I freedive into the deep, but as I explained in an earlier post, this had to do with not being able to fully control or anticipate the environment variables.
Why close your eyes? I’m aware of the fact that whenever you open your eyes, the brain gets extra stimulus on all the images it receives, so closing the eyes sounds like a good idea to have your mind relax and get along with images you control for yourself. Having said that, for me it’s feels like a mandatory thing to really know the variables from the environment I’m freediving in.
Change is good!
So, I’m willing to change my way of the game just to see how much this can help me relax and being able to get my mind at ease with this way of freediving. Over the last two weeks I started closing my eyes in the depth disciplines. As I know now how the bottom setup looks like at the 23 meter deep buoy in Panheel, it’s much easier to freedive descending with my eyes closed. I still need to get used to it and I still haven’t made a depth without ever opening my eyes.
So the next time I’ll visit the outdoors for some depth freedive training I’ll have to make a depth without opening my eyes until I resurface and see how that feels.
Your thoughts, tips or useful info?
What is your way of freediving and dealing with eyes open vs. eyes closed? Please leave your thoughts, tips or useful information in the comments below.
Last night I was out for training in the Tongelreep and Kostas was also training with me. Along the way of explaining the prerequisites for a DNF freedive to Kostas, I hit the topic of checking out balance and alignment under water. I had been analyzing the balance of YugYug in earlier training sessions and Jorg had been spotting mine a long time ago. It reminded me that if you want to have a good alignment for your DNF freedive you’ll have to test certain things before you can find your perfect alignment.
Balance and alignment all originate from the buoyancy you have whilst freediving at a certain depth, with a certain are intake. To find your balance and alignment underwater the altitude and air intake are the parameters you can play with.
The buoyancy is a very important part, if you don’t want to become a jig-saw DNF swimmer that is. A jig-saw DNF originates by the fact your buoyancy is positive or negative, which will make you ascend or descend. A normal respond to this is to help yourself is by swimming down or up when you make the arm-stroke. But again you’ll ascend or descend and this will lead to the jig-saw movement when you look at it from the side.
To counter-act this behavior you must play around with the altitude and air intake, to find a point where you’re neutral or slightly buoyant. A great exercise for this is to push-off from the wall and see how far you can float, whilst doing so you can check if you ascend, descend or remain neutral. Before even making any neck-weights, you want to see if you can vary any of the parameters to help you find the buoyancy you need.
If you’re in the position where you normally would swim at 1,5m depth, but the pool itself is 3m deep. Try and drop down to 3 meters deep and prepare for a push off from the wall at that depth. Once you made the push-off, just let yourself glide until you are completely stopped. If varying the depth isn’t helping you to stay at 3 meters deep, you’ll have to change the air intake.
This relates to how much air you take in before starting your DNF freedive. As a lower air intake will result in less buoyany, try and do a DNF freedive at 3m’s deep with a neutral air intake. If you still float up, try with a smaller ammount of air intake, but most definately you’ll find that a neutral air intake should already be pretty close to finding your neutral buoyancy.
Varying with both of these parameters will result in a perfect way to find out, how a good balanced DNF should feel like. When you know how it should feel, the freedive itself will feel totally different. You no longer have to swim down or up, so now you can fine-tune your DNF freedive by paying attention to other aspects i.e. streamlining. In the end variation with the altitude and air intake will help you in making the neck-weight, waist-weight, etc. to suit your needs. Every freediver has a different body composure, thus a different setup is required as well.
Most importantly to all of the information described is a good spotter, with preferably an underwater camera to aid in your goal of finding a good balance and alignment.
Good luck on finding your balance and alignment and if you have some other tips or remarks, be sure to comment about them.
The equalization that looked very promising last Wednesday, turned out to be the thing Kostas had been missing out on. He was able to equalize on land during the last 7 days and was eager to get into the water and test his new ability. So I brought a set of weights to the pool and let him drop down to the bottom with it. This way he could focus on only his equalization, first he tried head up and after that head down equalization. This all proved to be no problem anymore and in a way he found what he was looking for when joining us in the first place; Equalization.
Finning technique (DYN) The equalization was pretty important for the finning technique in the pool. As I wanted him to test his buoyancy by varying his air intake and depth, we weren’t able to vary the depth’s because equalization was in the way. Now he could vary his depth and air intake to search the neutral buoyancy to test with.
The fins we started out with are the C4 carbon fins, as they aren’t as stiff as the GARA’s. Because the legs aren’t making the proper movement yet, I think this is a better way of getting your legs to move the way you like.
As always when we’re trying to improve certain aspects we capture all dynamic runs on video and look at these video clips after every dynamic run. We’re currently only focusing on his finning technique, so push of and other parts are not in the way of Kostas’ focus.
Analyzing the videos
From the videos Kostas and I concluded that the knee bending was a thing he needed to think about in the next runs and I told him to really exaggerate that there is no knee joint. After a few runs this seemed to have the positive effect. Although his left leg seems to be somewhat better then his right leg, overall progress is huge al ready.
Other points he has to work on is a fluent movement and the wiggling /cork-screw-motion. Of course these are difficult to get rid of after the first time, but as determined as Kostas is he wants to get rid of this and further perfect his technique. Take a look at this compilation:
Wednessday evening Kostas and I went out for a dynamic technique training. Kostas had to focus on his finning technique and I was trying out the speedo breeaststoke fins to test a DNF question from Eric van Riet Paap.
What I noticed with Kostas was that he was floating upwards while trying to improve his technique, so I stopped him and said he’d be better of trying to swim a little deeper with a whole lot less air intake, because we didn’t have any extra weight to drop him straight down to the bottom 😛 . Before I could get him to swim deeper, we still had to solve his ability to equalize.
Equalize it What seemed to be the trick into getting Kostas to equalize is that he was not using the pressere in his nose to equalize the ears. Although he was trying to put pressure on his nose, there was no air to compress and built pressure, so the effect was zero. After I checked for myself what I was doing whilst I equalize, I gave Kostas this tip of building pressure with air in his nose. After he tried it once…he heard a popping sound for the first time in his freediving experience. He was now convinced about the technique and knew what pressure to build to hear a popping sound. Welcome to the world of equalization Kostas !
Now he was able to equalize he could focus on his technique in dynamic with fins. His appearance in training at depth was very relaxed and unlike before ideal to focus on his technique. I guess he’s going to be very eager to go to the pool again next week.
Last Thursday I already took my new Speedo Breast Stroke fins for a test run. I was actually surprised by the amount of propulsion it produced. I did a few 25 meters DNF to see how propelling with my legs was exaggerated to a level I became aware of the way it should feel.
As I’m still finding my way through the proper technique and the helpful tools to get rid of my scissor-like leg movement, Kostas joined me last night with another helpful tool; the video-camera. Looking back at the footage right after I did the 25 meter test runs, made it more obvious I needed to lower my right leg even more.
As a comparison we made a few clips where I did a run with:
When reviewing the footage some interesting facts grabbed my attention. In relation to how it felt whilst doing the different test runs, I can say that even though you wear the fins, I still need to be paying attention to the lifting of the right leg. When applying the force with the legs, the moment of ultimate propulsion at first seems to be short. But after re-capping the things William said in his course you can keep the propulsion going by scooping more water, by pointing the toes inwards at the end.
My scissor isn’t gone by long, but getting aware of the fact by reviewing the footage is very helpful. Another thing which makes me aware is by looking down at my legs whilst swimming… it’s not the most elegant way, but then I seem to see the errors and correct them instantly.
The next few weeks I’ll be swopping between my DNF-technique and the DYN monofin technique.
It started with a introduction of technique used during the CNF, which he’d broke down into the arm- and legstroke. It’s good to see him explaining all this theory out of his own experience, like where he applies certain corrections and i.e. accidentally finding out why certain stuff is working by looking back through videos.
A lot of other theory explained about lung capacity, certain different thesis’ and practical experience led William to finding a kind of formula to calculate how many air to use for a dive. Although it’s unproven by science it did make sense when he explained it.
After the theory he taught some of his stretching exercises, through which he could stretch his overall body in preparation of CNF or CW dives. In combination with breathing exercises with purpose to stretch the lungs and the rib-cage a preparation for depth training seems to make sense. In some of the stretching exercises or maybe most, I found out that my body wasn’t really all that capable of bending. I do believe that with a little dedication to these stretching exercises, it will be increasing flexibility and thus a better preparation for going into the blue.
With the body stretched up and ready to go we were dropped in the pool to show our technique to the careful eye of the world champ. With pin-pointed accuracy he spotted technique imperfections and showed a way to get rid of these imperfections. For myself my scissor-like movement with my right leg still is one the major imperfections, but by hanging on the side of the pool and slowly making the movement I could get rid of the imperfection. As for the other participants they could also benefit of the observations and comments by William.
This day started of with theory again, more specific to total lung capacity versus residual volume. He explained an other theory which he worked out for himself and he combined with exhale statics. This approach seems to make sens when you are training for depth, as you’re in this kind of static whilst your falling down by negative buoyancy.
Glenn setup his heart rate monitor through which William was able to show a heart rate drop from 60 to 38 within a minute, which proves his way of using certain pranayama locks. Later that day all participants would be hooked up and check if they were able to pull of these locks…as for my own heart rate… sigh… I don’t know why but my heart rate starts of at about 100 rest state after 4 minutes of slow breathing and after performing a lock…it would only drop to let’s say 83, but all in a time of 2 minutes for which this is a normal drop in heart rate for me. so for me it’s unproven, but the others were able to get the sensations William was talking about.
After the heart rate monitoring everybody made a maximum attempt in the pool without any preparation, for most of the freedivers this was a first and they all performed really well by down no warm up.
To round up the day we were to execute one of the tables explained earlier in the theory. A certain amount of 25m laps and decreasing rest times made a perfect training for 30 minutes. Quite tiring and an interesting way of training, although I do see resemblance with my own training schedule’s which Jorg puts me through.
Overall a succesful weekend and lot’s of new things learned also about an amazing athlete doing 3 days of trianing and one day of rest in a really awesome blue hole in the Bahamas. Thanks William Trubridge and Glenn Venghaus and Peter Wurschy from Apnea Academy Amsterdam for setting up this oppertunity.