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Coffee and Freediving - the reality

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

How many Caffeine based drinks do you have per day?

  • Never! - Freediving and Caffeine don't mix

    Votes: 36 30.8%
  • 1 per day

    Votes: 33 28.2%
  • 2 per day

    Votes: 24 20.5%
  • As many as I can get

    Votes: 24 20.5%

  • Total voters


Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2004
We all know that caffeine and freediving don't mix but I wondered how many freedivers really gave up their coffee!
dirty caffeine

I tried - but could not exist without coffee or tea for more than a week or two - it's more of a psychological thing - I don't feel normal without caffeine
I usually skip coffee before pool training though.:(
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I gave up caffeine years ago for various reasons but freediving is kind of one of them


I asked a diving doc about this and he said that as long as you didn't have caffeine 24 hours before a dive, any other caffeine you enjoy would make no difference

I like nothing better than a nice cup of coffee just before a deep dive or a good static.
It warms and relaxes and tastes great.

When spearfishing, sipping from a flask of hot coffee or tea on the boat between sessions really rounds off the experience and warms the chilly middle box.

Im not so sure that the kind of relaxation neccessary for freediving is neccessarily commensurate with a slow heartrate. Considering the fluctuations imposed on the heartrate by a breathold and i think the effect of coffee is negligible. Didnt i hear than Mr Stephanek's heartrate is way over 100bpm for the first 4 or 5 minutes in a static ? Phoey for anti coffee lobbyists then :)

How about an option for people who don't drink coffee just because they don't like it and never got around to get addicted? :)

Putting heartrate asside, Caffein is a vasoconstricter, and I assume that the body gets used to it (countering the effect somehow), so if you stop use it for a short period just for diving, your body might react differently as it would otherwise. You might also feel redrawl symptoms...

I think that if you're not going for top potencial achievments, there's no reason why coffee would bother you that much anyway... not assuming that you're not going for that.. just saying....:)
We had some really interesting discussions about coffee at the last Performance Freediving Clinic in Ottawa.

One of the participants who typically drinks lots of coffee switched to decaf during the clinic assuming it would help him. Kirk Krack then filled us in on some interesting info regarding compensatory changes.

In a nutshell, compensatory changes are changes your body makes automatically when regularly presented with the same stimuli. For example, when you first start freediving at the beginning of a season it may take a while for your mamalian diving reflexes kick in. But, if you dive regularly, your mamalian reflexes will kick in much more quickly even if you. You may not even be going freediving, but just immersing yourself in a pool may begin the process of your mamalian diving reflexes kicking in.

Similarily, if you drink caffinated coffee regularly your body reacts to the caffine. If you suddenly switch to decaf, your body may still react as if it we caffinated because a number of the characteristics (hot, liquid, taste, etc) are the same.

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I have certainly seen similar reactions in my body reacting to other things.

Jason Billows
Ottawa, Canada
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Love Coffe, but can live without too.. I hate to be addicted to things... unfortunately freediving is very addictive to me... dont think I could live without diving.... perhaps I could.. dont want to try..

Did Kirk say it was good to quit caffine, or that if you do it will take some time to see any results. I quit drinking coffee after taking his clinic a few years ago- I switched to decaf. If the decaf is still doing the same thing to me as fully leaded coffee I wouldn't mind switching back.

My favorite quote on the topic

Originally posted by pkotik in the Recreation Drugs thread
I have used a drug which made a critical contribution to my performance in a competition.

In fact, without it I would not have even completed my performances at the competition.

I would not even have made it to the competition.

It was a cup of strong, black Maui organic coffee, Ono Farms.

Without it, I am nothing. With it, I am next-to-nothing, which is
a big improvement.
Originally posted by DeepThought
How about an option for people who don't drink coffee just because they don't like it and never got around to get addicted? :)

One of those... I found coffee :yack, and a cup affect my nerves to the point I could loose my snorkel: no good for diving... no good!

From what I understood, compensatory changes were a learned response, but would disappear after a period of time. Kind of like Pavlov's dog. When you ring the bell he'll salivate and get hungry, but if you never end up giving him food the response will diminish.

Are you feeling and effects from drinking decaf? If you've been off caffininated coffee for a while I doubt you'd still have any compensatory changes. If you have been drinking caffine, why not kick the coffee (decaf included) for a while and then reintroduce the decaf back a little while later. By then your learned responses shouldn't affect you.

Jason Billows
Ottawa, Canada
I like the taste of coffee but for me the biggest problem is the diuretic effect. I find it very easy to get dehydrated after one cup.

Lately, I've been drinking shots of espresso, they seem easier on the body in general and I like the taste!

Vancouver, BC
I like the taste of coffee but for me the biggest problem is the diuretic effect. I find it very easy to get dehydrated after one cup.

Lately, I've been drinking shots of espresso, they seem easier on the body in general and I like the taste!

Vancouver, BC
I like the taste of coffee but for me the biggest problem is the diuretic effect. I find it very easy to get dehydrated after one cup.

Lately, I've been drinking shots of espresso, they seem easier on the body in general and I like the taste!

Vancouver, BC
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Have gone from multi cups a day to drinking caffine-free coffee. tasted really shitty when I started, but am getting used to it, and still enjoy a cup of 'regular-coffee' once every 2 days or so if I'm not diving.
Not sure if it really makes a difference, I tend to think each person's body is totally different in what it can handle.
For example, I stopped smoking 2 years ago, but a lot of my freediving buddies smoke, and when spearfishing, a lot of them have amazing bottom times ?? Go figure ?

For me, coffee is not good at the margins of performance. If I drink coffee and immediately go freediving, my apnea performance is definitely reduced. Not by a huge amount, but the
dive reflex takes longer to develop and is not as pronounced.

I sometimes do not drink coffee at all for weeks and months. After a period of abstinence, my dive reflex is markedly more pronounced and kicks in faster.

The worst scenario is when, during one of my coffee-drinking periods, I decide to give it up the same morning as I'm doing some big diving. The sudden absence of the coffee seems to be worse than the presence of the usual dose.

The best scenario is abstinence of at least a week or so. That's an estimate - perhaps it is really only a few days.

I do not have withdrawal symptoms of any sort when I stop drinking coffee, with the exception cited above of poor dive reflex in the very early stages of withdrawal.

I think this is all very individual. If I drink coffee after 9 AM or so, I ain't getting any sleep that night. Other people like a nice big cup of strong black coffee at bedtime. Most, but not all of the top -end freedivers I'm acquainted with avoid caffeine as a general practice.
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Funny story about Caffeine

Here is a funny story about caffeine that happened at the Swiss World Cup in 2000.

At the time, Red Bull was pretty new, at least to the area (Red Bull is the mega-caffeine drink which is illegal in many countries due to the high caffeine).

I had never heard of it at the time, but Red Bull was one of the sponsors of the competition (and is also the sponsor of many top athletes like Tanya).

A swiss 'red bull' girl approached me and started explaining Red Bull to me in French. Luckily I could understand French, but others were not so lucky. She told me, for example, not to drink it right before doing apnea. One of the Danish team members couldn't understand French, so he didn't pick up that important piece of info.

Right before the static competition, I saw one of the Danish team members gulping cans of Red Bull -- he obviously liked the taste. Little did he know what he was getting into. He announced 4'30" in static and pulled up around 2'40" with either a borderline recovery or a samba (can't remember). I had been speaking with the Danish team earlier and apparently this guy had done 4'30" many times before. Obviously the caffeine had nailed him.

Ironically, they were also doing random IOC drug tests in Switzerland at this competition. Almost all stimulants are on the IOC list of banned substances, including caffeine (although I've been told recently that caffeine has been removed?)

Anyway, luckily he wasn't selected for the drug test, because he probably would have failed due to the extreme level of caffeine in his system.

How funny would that have been -- the caffeine first causes you to miss your mark by 50%, with a DQ for a samba, then you get disqualified AGAIN (and SUSPENDED) when you fail the IOC test.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

Nice story and you only have four more posts to hit 1000

GO, ERIC !!!

I know you can do it, Eric.

I'm proposing to the publisher that this landmark be recognized and commemorated in some way.

Paul Kotik
Florida, USA

I agree, maybe you could change the site background colour to Eric's favourite for a day as 1000 posts is a big deal, particularly given the detail he normally provides per post ....unlike my usual couple of liners.

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