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Freediving Stories?

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Well-Known Member
Aug 13, 2001
I'm interested in everyone's first experiences with freediving or else the most memorable dive you've made (okay, one of them!). All this talk of equipment, training, pbs, and physiology is great, but it's the stories that I always come back to.

I'll start things off with a short example since I am prone to rambling....

The first day I felt that I had really gone freediving was with Eric Fattah last November at Porteau Cove in BC. I had only been freediving for a month or two and was okay at 40 feet. Porteau is a recreational site with many wrecks and interesting underwater debris. We finished the long surface swim to the Nakaya, a wreck in about 60-100 feet of water. The deepest I had gone at the time was 50 feet, although after most dives I would sprint for the surface. I was not relaxed!

My first forays into the water below 30 feet were scary, to be honest. I had no Scuba experience at depth. Shafts of light disappearing into black abyssmal depths had always been a source of fear as a kid. In the North Pacific it was cold and dark.

My static times were pretty decent and all along Eric told me that with proper technique, I would eventually dive much deeper that my pb. Diving with him also helped my confidence, although it was all new to me.

After we caught our breath from the surface swim, I made a few shallow dives to let the cold water ease me into "seal" mode. Eric went down and said that the Nakaya was at 60 feet or so. I did a slow breathe up and went. I followed the yellow line we had brought out and soon the darkness overwhelmed me. I kept kicking downward (back in my bi-fin days!) and put my arm overhead in case I crashed into something. Suddenly, and it gave me a shock, the Nakaya appeared from the gloom like a ghost. My lungs felt fine. I looked at the gauge in disbelief, 61 feet. I hung there for a second and then retreated to the surface, sprinting. Eric asked me how it felt. I had no contractions and no burn. I was ecstatic. He said to go down and relax on the bottom, relax for a few seconds. I wasn't sure about that, but after a few minutes, I went down.

Trying to relax my body, I set down on the bottom next to a large anenome. A solitary ling cod watched from the wreck. The Nakaya was poised on the bottom, an eerie sentinel, shrouded in shadows of green and grey and black. The length of the hull faded into the dark with the slope of the bottom. The wood of the hull was dusty and looked fragile. Small fish darted in and out of holes. I could hear my thudding heart slow in my head and body. The tides hissed in my ears. The bottom was soft and I could see the glow of the surface far above, straining to pulse through the crud layer. I looked at my watch as I started back for the surface. I had only been down for 15 seconds and yet these details were forever branded in my memory.

At Sasamat lake last month, Eric went down to the bottom and stayed there for several minutes. After a while I went down to join him. We lay still on the bottom at 28 metres. The lake was absolutely silent. I watched the silt stirred up by my landing on the bottom settle like snow over Eric's silver suit. In every direction, the pillowed brown bottom gradually came into focus as my eyes adjusted to the light. My face was cold. After a while, the sting of it went away. Eric showed me his watch, it read 2:45. We smiled. We started slowly back to the surface, each monofin stroke as relaxed as possible. The water changed from black to green and then silver as our spotters came into view. We surfaced and laughed at our inability to comprehend fully what we had experienced. How could we felt so comfortable, so peaceful at the bottom of the lake after almost 4 minutes underwater?

It reminded me of those first "deep" dives on the Nakaya. The disbelief I experienced lying on the bottom, each detail jumping out at me. To me, being in the element of water on its terms is what freediving is all about. That's why I train.

I look forward to competiting in Spain for Team Canada, but mostly it's anticipation of sharing thoughts with other freedivers and diving in clear blue water. I wonder how it will feel without the usual comforts of my home waters?

I look forward to your stories... :p

most memorable

first of all, i'd personally like to hear Cliff's solo experience with the turtle. i remember him mentioning it on another post.

i guess my most memorable experience, which is just one of hundreds, is a certain instance during one of our spearfishing ventures.

i was at my favorite spot with my partner, aquiles, down in the florida keys. i think it was actually a weekday that we got away from studying and snuk out to our reef. we had started in about 30m and did our drifts. once we got into about 10m we hopped in the boat and headed back out. we drifted several times making a pattern resembling "Z's" before we started over familiar territory. there were snapper everywhere. the spawning season had begun, and it seemed like all of a sudden the ref hit the nookie bell, because there were now tons of males chasing around larger females. the two kinds of snappers we were on were mangrove and mutton.

we had bagged a few decent ones earlier, but the ones we were looking at now made those in the boat look like minnows. aquiles would sound to the floor to pursue this 20lb mutton. it was just monstrous. it was actually hilarious how greedy you can get at times like these. 10lbers were passing right in front of aquiles who was paying no attention to them whatsoever. he always stayed on and waited for this big female. well, short story long, aquiles gave up. everytime he would make a sprint towards here she'd dart off just to come back a minute later with a little wink for the cuban.

back a little shallower, i had wedged myself between a little cut in the rocks 18m down. everyone had seemed to forget about me and they soon went back to business as normal. soon, a huge female mangrove snapper was heading straight for me. i was facing out to sea and she was coming right up on the reef. i wouldn't even have to move my gun, it seemed. the funny thing(this is where my "most memorable" comes in) is that she was being followed by about 20 males all about 5lbs a piece. this huge grey mob behind her started coming into view and were swimming along like a bunch of rowdy teenagers. the female they were courting was well over 15lbs! and, she was still heading straight for me! she started circling this rock about 3m in front of me, and the entire circus stayed on her tail. they were taking turns running up to her then drifting back in the pack. this went on for a bit and i had still no need for the surface so i stayed and watched. this thing was mammoth; something of a size that would fill great photos and many stomachs! then.... something turned on my safety and proceeded to lay my gun down on the floor. my hands came back up to support myself on the rocks. i just couldn't do it. actually, even if i wanted to, i don't think i could have done it.

it was just awesome. several snapper from the circus were straying out of the pack and swimming inches from my mask(i have mirrored lenses, by the way). it was just amazing to see this behavior. i began laughing and had to surface when i thought about how many pissed off snapper i'd have on my hands if i shot their lady. what a dive!

this was the first time that i actually felt such a part of the ocean. ever since then, i've passed up dozens of possible meals just to watch in curiosity and many times have witnessed things i've never seen. i guess a word to all the spearos out there is that hunting a big fish takes extreme skill, but getting one to accept you in its environment as non-threatening takes a tremendous connection to the world we dive in.

good request pete. keep em coming people. even if you think it's petty to pete's -30m silt blankets, write it. it's more a sharing of the feeling than of your olympic performance.

Here's my story...

andrsn said
first of all, i'd personally like to hear Cliff's solo experience with the turtle. i remember him mentioning it on another post.

If you go to this link, you'll read about my personal experience of diving solo and experiencing a magical moment that I will never forget.


I'm glad you brought this up - I was thinking about this the other day.

I was wondering if there would be an interest in a seperate forum for Freediving Stories, to keep them seperated and easier to locate...

Let's hear your views people!
Story Forum

Story forum is a great idea! I think it's a great way to get beginners into it, too.

Andrsn: I read your spearo experiences avidly, since it is all new to me. I can't wait to dive among so many fish. I'm headed to Belize next spring.... for a month! :D

Hey people, I'm all for a story section. Pete, you lucky dog, have a great time down there. Hopefully you'll have access to the net to keep us posted.
Time to pick up that Spanish Manual buddy!
I love the idea of a story section. I'm cuban and love to take my stories to the stretch of my imagination by nature. For this story I will try to stay to the facts only;)
This was my second or third experience hunting blue water. I was trying to get my best freind the ocean to introduce me to one of her closest freinds the mysterious and shy Ono (Wahoo). Anderson was not with me; something that I regret, so I had to find another spearo to join me in the deep. My trusty sidekick was Mario. It was one of those days that you start the story as Kurt Bickell says "And no $&!# there we were" We were in one hundred feet of water and waiting. We saw some large mutton snapper and tried to take pop shots at them but to no avail there was a stiff current and we could not catch our breath enough to get within shooting range.
We tried to pack our lungs as best we could for the nex dive when it happened. "The Happening". What the hell is that you might ask? A small peanut dolphin appeared out of the blue and mario and I took aim, he was too small so we "released him". From nowhere came this school of opelu or speedos and enveloped Mario and I.
Everywhere I looked there was a mass of fish. There was a giant loggerhead turtle walking along the bottom with three or four blackfin tuna following it and all of a sudden the water was clear. Everything dissapeared. I looked in the general direction that all of this mess came from to find two small cirlcles at the edge of my visibility. As they came closer they materialized into two beautiful Ono, they were not the biggest but they were within shooting range. I ducked to their level and stayed still to attract thier attention. Mario put his head doen to hide his eyes and followed my lead. The two Ono split up and then at the last minute the one closest to Mario cut back to join his partner.. I heard a gun go off on my left side and a bullit streaked passed me. I checked to see if his fish was secure so that at least we would land one fish.
After seeing that Mairo had his fish under control I looked over to my right to see what else but a school of Ono there must have been fourty or fifty of them. I had only heard of such things but had never experienced them. I took aim an fired at one of these bullits with teeth. My float line got caugt behind my knife as he started to drag me down. I was only dragged to about twenty feet under when the line went slack. I had shot the fish poorly in my anxiety and he broke off. Within one minute the ordeal was over and the fish were gone. It is amazing how all these things happen so fast.
Hope this was entertaining. I know that I could probably embellich this story a little but it sounds surreal enough just telling the truth.

Keep the stories comin' boys,

That Spanish manual won't help much in Belize, im afraid. What they talk there may be tough to understand, but it's nominally ENglish.
I like the idea of hanging stories somewhere I have several on my still-under-construction website, and two more ripped off from my diving buddy, "El Gallo" (his current nom-du-mud) check them out at
Coming Soon

OK, it seems there is a little interest for a stories forum - so i'll be creating one in the next few days.
I've got some funny stories too - could tell you about the time I fired my gun whilst holding onto the monofilament.....or the time I forgot my snorkel.....or the time I tried to walk down the beach with my fins on whilst being watched by lots of ladies (v.embarrasing)...or the time my buddy and I had to scale a 70ft cliff with all our gear when the tide cut us off.....

Yeah bring on a stories section - i'll give you all a good laugh with my dumbass antics :)

We had been diveing at beatiful reef for an hour while the scuba people were bubbling somewhere around cause we were on a boat trip off shore.
I felt pretty good about my self, going to -20 and still being able to do things relaxed no hurry, try to find something interesting, I also had my disposable camera with me which seemed to be doing pretty well...even though it has a text that says..-4m max, well I could hear it crack a bit but it seemd to be fine.
ok then we (me, my older brother and couple of friends) were about to get back on boat, but I thought that I want to do just one more, bit deeper dive, so I asked my brother to wach when I go, and so we went bit farther and deeper, I relaxed closed my eyes and tried to be still. I was bit cold though, but not too cold to dive I thought, so I finished my breathing after couple of minutes of slow breathing and packed couple of times, I can't remember how many, not over ten though, and as I entered I still packed the air from my snorkel;) (as you enter there is bit of air in your snorkel, so why not..right) so I started my descend thowards the cliff covered by corrals, I thought that it would be about -25 or so.. deep but still with in my reach, as I reached the cliff I checked my guage and it indicated -26m and I was doing just fine. I was suprised so I swam on the edge of the cliff and kept on descending up to -29m and turned around slowly still waching everything around me.
After a few kicks I felt first contraction and I looked up. I couldn't see my brother but just the sunlight and the sparkly furface where the oxygen what I seriously needed by the time I reached -15m. I held my hand in a fist which was a indication to buddy above that I am in very low oxygen and..well still ok, but not all that sure how would it be once surfaced.
I saw my brother diveing thorwards me and surfacing right infront of me looking bit worried.
I was exhausted feet felt like couple of led bars but after a minute or two I was back and feeling great in the wrm waters of the red sea and admireing my new pb.
well thats how I felt..:)
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