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Gun Shy

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jul 16, 2002
I have snorkeled most of my life, and before I knew what free diving was I would take 10 or so deep breaths until I felt that tingle and head down, what a beautiful feeling to be down 20 ft or so and feel completely relaxed. Then I learned what free diving was, or at least partial information. And off I would go by myself, with maybe some other snorkelers in the water. A little relaxing on the surface, 10 breaths or so and down I would go. 40 feet was my max. My best dry static was 4.30.
Here is the problem, the dangers, I now find are quite real (althoug I have not experienced BO, SWB, Samba, etc.) This forum has provided me with great information, but now what? I am 38 with a wife and two kids. As it turns our it is probably not quite enough support to have your friend, who can't go deeper than 10 feet, with a mask and snorlel bobbing around at the surface as he watches you disappear.
I am not adverse to risk; windsurfing, mountain biking, etc and I have confidence that I can get my self out of a sticky situation, but it becomes a little more problematic when your brain decides to shut down 'cause your oxygen has reached a critically low level and you are underwater.
If I have a questions I guess it would be is my choices- freedive with a competent buddy, or don't dive at all. Lets say you get out and dive every couple of months over a 10 year period and stay above 60ft are you pretty well guaranteed a SWB at some point? Actually I know the answer to that; it can happen to anybody at anytime. I may have reached my risk tolerance threshold with this sport.

Good thoughts and questions arbateman. I'll try to provide some answers, at least as they apply in my case.

I'm not too different from you, been diving and spearing a long time, but never deep, the vast majority of my fish came out of 45 ft or less. Most of my diving has been effectively without a buddy. This forum has opened my eyes to a whole new world of depth ( and lots more), but I'm cautious. This summer I've been experimenting with down a line, constant weight (and tight buddy systems) and thinking a lot about how my body is reacting to diving. I discovered something; my body tells me its time to come up long before I really need to. At 40 or 50 ft and one minute, my head is screaming to come up, but by the time I hit the surface, its clear that I really don't need to breath. The "safty factor" is around 30 seconds after the dive reflex has kicked in good. I think this is an unconsious but still very intentional adaptation to spearfishing without a close buddy. Maybe you could test your own safty factor (under supervision) by continuing to hold your breath after you hit the surface.

Diving with a good buddy is the safest, most fun and most rewarding way to dive, but sometimes it isn't an option.
If you dive conservatively and build in a large safty factor, my personal opinion, for what its worth, is that the chance of a swb is vanishingly small. The two or three mild sambas I experianced were all long ago, in the period when I transitioned from novice to a little bit competent diver, and ( I think) before developing a safty factor.
Just a suggestion, a little lifesaving practice can make your snorkeling buddy feel great about himself and might help you one day. My son and I did some last trip and it was both fun and very interesting.

Last comment, if I start to tingle on breath up, I take it as a sign of hyperventalation and back off before diving. Other opinions here might be useful. Oh yeah, If you can do 4.30 static, you can dive a whole lot deeper than 40 ft. Enjoy.
hey, I see what you guys are saying. and agree 100% knowing you oxygen consumption is critical. The need to breath is independent of this and related to Co2 levels in the blood. The key thing is to know your bodies signals that you are low on air and not the psycological need to breath. I think this is probably one of the most dangerous parts of the sports. The transition from a snorkeler to a freediver is dangerous because as you reach greater depth and become comfortable the the voice that screams to go up to the surface becomes a whisper and it could be deceptively easy to surpass your limits when it feel so right to be down there. As a spearfisher I try to always head for the surface with half of my oxygen still left bc. if that last minute fish shows i have some reserve air to give somewhat of a chase. I also will bail on a trophy fish if I feel like I have less than 1/3 of my air left bc. the adrenaline of the moment will blur your judgement and fish can sense your desperation and will likely stay out of range and it does no good to shot the trophy if you won't be able to make it to the surface.
I have two diving modes solo, where I am much more conservative and buddy mode when I push myself close to the limit of my endurance bc I am confident that my buddy will be there if something goes wrong. I sometimes feel the need to hit some deep stuff when i am the only freediver on the boat and have considered but not tryed this yet to attach a 75 ft float line to my weight belt (wich I keep light) so if something does go wrong the snorkelers will be able to retrive me b4 its too late.
My PB static is 3:30 and I my deepest freedive is 80 after a good warm up, granted I cant hunt this depth but im working on it. so if you are at 4:30 you have what it takes to make it much deeper than 40 just try to find a buddy to help you push yourself and youl feel much more safe and comfortable at depth and will be able to improve in small increments and b4 you know it 60 will be nothing.
hope this helps a bit
hope this helps a bit
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