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Austrian freedive-expedition to Croatia

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Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2002
Last weekend (Oct 17-19) st3fan and myself ventured down into croatia to catch the last sunrays before the winter. It was a blast and things developed beyond our expectation. Considering the fact that we only knew each other via the internet for the past few weeks, we had a great time as we were pursuing the same goal: friendship, camaraderie, submarine life and progress under water. We succeeded in all of these.

Our destination was Sveti Marina, half way between Rijeka and Pula on the east side of Istria, just below Labin.

Airtemp was around 10°C/50°F, water temp around 16°/61°F. In contrast to the air the water felt balmy. Friday and Saturday the sea was rough with waves up to 1mt/3ft, sunday was perfectly calm (with a 15m viz) and I felt comfortable with my 2 piece 3mm suit for one hour.

I have been training cold water acclimatization for the last two months, alongside with taking in more calories. Obviously successful, because the cold water didn't bother me, in fact I went for a swim with my bathing suit for half an hour. However the change of my diet (mostly simple carbohydrates) seemed to be detrimental to my capacity for maximum dives and I had to keep it conservative. On top of that I became sloppy and stopped taking my vitamins (C, E + Magnesium). Because I didn't expect a performance drop, this experience may have been genuine, not clouded by placebo (ie consciously diving without vitamins).

Anyway, it was a fantastic weekend and st3fan managed to progress from -40 to -45 to -48m within a few nice tries. Soon he will be the 4.th Austrian (two official, and two unofficial) who will have reached or surpassed the 50 Meter mark in Costant Weight (if Hertbert counts for two, then there would be 5 :D). Congratulations to Stephan :)

On the last day (sunday) the ocean was totally calm and we went to Brsec, 35 km south of Rijeka. A steep, paved track took us from the coastal highway down to the Zeus-Faber Bucht after 1½km. Right from the edge where we parked our car a 20 Meter cliff drops off right into the water. People take advantage of this place in various ways: some were throwing their cars down the cliff (some years ago) creating a divesite at a depth of -25m, while some others (including myself) jumped right off.

Under water the walls drop down immediately to -15-20m from where the bottom is staged further down to -25-30m. It was awesome to look back up from the lowest point into the sunlight along the corals through schools of fish.
Here are the pictures from this weekend. (You may have to register first before You have access to them)

dive safely and deeply
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See Gerald jumping of the cliff :wave

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Cool! Glad to see divers meeting up through the DB forum.
Erik Y.
cool jump gerald,
didn't it hurt? :)
we visited Sv. Marina also (in june). its a really nice place for freediving, especially the underwater cliff falling from 11m to 42m. it's a pity that we had poor visibility (around 10m).
on the first days of diving we found the 48m depth. we wanted to go deeper next days but couldn't find anything.had only one day of diving left so we went to a local diving center to ask for an advice. I can still remember the guy's face when I mentioned that we dove the 48m place without tanks.
What a great picture st3fan :cool:
Gerald, you look totally wild in the air! No fear!

:) Adrian
Way to go Gerald. How high was that cliff? What's your PB?
Karma to you Gerald! 20m is about 20x as high as I'll jump! ;) Sounds like a great trip as well.

Thanks for the great response to our story

Glad to see divers meeting up through the DB forum
@Erik: It is interesting that two divers from the same country meet up through DB Forum, rather than through local communication. Ever since the preliminary competition for the WC Sardinia I had nobody to go with me to Croatia for freediving - that was 5 Years ago - strange! But things start to get better here in Austria and I think that is partly due to the influence of DB-Forum.

about jumping: as a kid I always felt tantalized around closed high diving platforms and I figured what's the sense of building them and letting no one use them? So I resorted to rocks and cliffs and later also to bridges - in fact I made the headlines of a local newspaper in St. Petersburgh/FLA after a 22mt/73 ft jump from the Skyway Bridge in 1985. (from the demolished side of the bridge).

In the Mediterraneans and in the Alps the best places for freediving usually offer great opportunities for cliffdiving/jumping and my personal bests grew with the opportunities that nature would offer. The highest I have gone so far is from a rock that is towered above Wolfgangsee near Salzburg (Austria) and that's 27m/90ft high. If I feel fine, I do this one every year in August - a pic of one of those "maximum dives" is posted on my homepage. The one You saw that was posted by St3fan was 17 meters/56 ft high.

What do freediving/highdiving have in common? You need a buddy for safety. If I go to my limits I prefer to have someone spotting me at the surface because I may not be able to keep myself above the water after the impact - and thanks to God, so far I was only hurting my butt occasionally without getting into serious trouble. I remember one weekend where we had a 12 year old kid going off a 21m/70ft bridge in a tilted position. Because of the shock from the impact he couldn't keep himself above the water until 10 seconds afterwards - even though he was able to eat 5 minutes later. :p The corresponding thing to a blackout in freediving is a knockout in highdiving. Would be funny to develop AIDA rules around that :D

On a more serious note: To jump into salt water before freediving may even help the sinuses and nasal tracts to clear up. It's even recommendable! I saw Mayol in a movie flooding his nose with salt walter before his dive using a pipette. By the way, the maximum flooding of Your nose happens after jumping from heights between 1 and 5 meters/3 -16 feet (with impact velocities between 10mph to 22mph). Greater heights (=greater velocities) cause massive amounts of air to be forced into the water - together with the diver. In this case there is hardly any water rushing up the nasal tracts, I don't need to worry about the nose while my hands are free to keep myself balanced in the air. Just a tip: the moment I enter the water I stretch my hands up straight above my head (important!).

Fresh water is a different story. It causes the mucous membranes to swell and therefore the nasal tracts should be protected. Even a drop leaking through the mask can cause troubles. Remains the question: How can I freedive and cliffdive at the same time, if this place in Austria offers both opportunities in super-abundance? The answer to this came also from an Austrian: Herbert Nitsch. I told him about my "problem" and asked him for his paradisia nose clip. He was afraid that I would loose my nose and he would loose his clip :D - but suggested to use some special tape to seal off my nose - and it works, proving that Herberts innovative abilities go beyond freediving.

Talking about innovations: I believe it was Herbert who was the first one doing free immersion "right side up", balanced by an ankle-weight, just as Pipin was the first who did NO-Limits "right side up" and thereby gaining an advantage in equalization.

Have safe and pleasant dives (high- and free-)

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That's the view from gerald's lift-off point towards the Zeus-Faber cove.


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lift-off point

lift-off point -> ha ha ha ... rofl
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