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How I began frediving.

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New Member
Jun 9, 2004
How I began freediving.

I'm scuba-diving for a couple of years now, freediving just never entered my mind. Sure, I've seen Deep Blue (who hasn't), but the switch never clicked, it was always a nice thing, not something I say to myself I have to try. Well that's about to change...


A month ago I was in Eilat (Red-Sea, Israeli part) to scuba for 3 days (a long weekend), all was going as always: a deep dive in the morning ~30 meters another in the afternoon and a shallow one in the evening, two days have gone by, now don't get me wrong it's not that it isn't fun because it is, but it's a usual and known fun.

Third day, 9am, the usual ship-wreck at 30 meters, we get to the wreck and start swimming around, I invert looking at the murky surface (I like swimming inverted feeling the pressure on the regulator, my mask and seeing the light sifting throe the dark blue). A minute goes by; I notice a silhouette, a dark shape descending... hmm... a fish? No, too big, scuba diver? Nope, no bubbles.

20 seconds and I realize it's a man, now, at this point I stop breathing and just stare dumbfounded, the freediver gets closer makes a hello gesture, touches the ground and ascends. I notice I stopped breathing and that my buddy is tugging my suit asking me what's wrong, I sign that I'm ok and start breathing. Another minute and I see the dark shape again, only this time it's weird, he dives using his hands like breaststroke... erm, what the hell.. Don't they know you don't swim with your hand when you have fins? Wait, that's exactly what he's missing, no fins (I stop breathing, again). He too waves hello and ascends.

This long and tedious preface should explain what came next...

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The beginning:

I got out of the water with a buzz in my head, 'freediving', I HAVE to try that!

So I returned the rented tank and some other scuba related equipment, took the fins (small rubber scuba fins), a mask and a snorkel and swam out. I dive, 3 meters my ears start to hurt and I remember I need to equalize, I push, it's a little harder than scuba but finally I manage and continue down, 9 meters but I'm out of air and exhausted not mentioning it's getting harder to equalize, I ascend. I continue diving till the rest of the day doing my PB of ~12 meters but overstressing my ears in the process. But the weekend is over and it's time to head home.

At home I scrounge the Net for info on freediving, find this excellent forum and start reading, reading for a couple of days (if you're wandering if I took a break, then yes, I did, I watched Deep Blue :D). Read Eric's site and the educational document on equalizing. Now I could continue like that for a long time but I'll spare you the and just list it out. Wowed to return to Eilat ASAP, bought a pair of fins (Omer Mill. Comp.) a mask (Sphera) and a snorkel (Omer Zoom pro soft), started doing statics (got a PB of 3 minutes), introduced dynamic apnea to my swimming sessions (got to 30m unassisted).

The disappointment:

I'm all anticipation, two weeks have gone by and I'm going to Eilat to freedive, having found no one interested in freediving or even going with me to Eilat I decided to go alone. Eilat, my standing target depth is 20 meters (what can I say, I like setting my goals high)..., I put on my new and untried fins, 5 minutes of pain and struggle (this pair is 40-42 and I'm 42-43, but while in the shop the 42-44 seemed a bit loose so I opted for a smaller size), the fins are on, I get some weird stares from people ("These are big fins..", "Yes, they are.").

I'm in the water, ..., two days have gone by and I'm stuck at 16 meters, can't get any lower, can't equalize, I push and push but once I manage to equalize I'm already out of energy and can't continue. 16 meters, I didn't reach 20, I'm disappointed and something I haven't expected is the thing that stops me, equalization, not air but my ears, damn. To add to it all my fins are so tight that they rub right into my ankle and it bleeds badly. The weekend is over, time to head home, I'm down...

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I'm down but not broken, I read some more, train some more, decide to take a freediving course and schedule it to a month from then (a week and a half left now). Almost two weeks go by; I got to 4m+ statics, 50 meters dynamics (no fins) and a bad case of ear fear. I found a member in this forum (DeepThough) is also from IL, we chat on ICQ, he gives me some valuable advice and I get inspired again, decide my equalization problem might be due to my poor technique and not frequent enough equalization on the way down.

Weekend, I finish up work and decide to stop in the shop and try the larger footpockets on my way to the bus station, when I get to the shop the owner isn't there but he left me the pair of footpockets with some guy that kept the shop open, so I unscrew the bolts take the blades of, find out I'm late for the bus, take the new footpockets with me and rush to the station, reaching there right when the bus starts to move.

Eilat again, it's late, after 5 hours of bus ride (no fun at all) I start assembling the blades only to find out (after half an hour of fiddling with silicone and getting myself full of grease) that my footpockets are 'defected', I can't screw the bolts in, nothing holds them, on the footpocket side there are only two big holes right were the bolts go in, "crap, mierda and Genghis Khan dancing around", I'm pissed.

Morning, I'm at the beach renting a pair of scuba fins while my pair is in the room, idling. I dive, get to 16 meters again, same story, I'm still having problems with my ears, nothing works. I get out of water and two things pop into my head:

1. My fins might not be defected, there might be a piece missing that's supposed to hold the bolts.
2. The shop I bought the fins from has a branch 10 minutes of ride from here.

I call the shop and sure enough there should be a plastic clip I'm missing and yes they have a box full of these lying around...

I get a cab, a pair of plastic clips, my fins from the room, get back to the beach successfully assemble the fins and dive to 16 meters having no problems with the ears... wait, rewind, no problems?... none, I'm feeling good. Nice, I say to myself, see another buoy about 10 meters farther away that's supposed to be deeper and decide to try there.

Breath up, I'm relaxed, I dive, relaxed, equalize and again, I see the bottom, I go on and on, bottom, empty feeling in my lungs, weird. I look up, dark blue; a murky light sifts throe, a long way... I dolphin up, some more and more erm... that's a long way... did I overdo? Strugle phase begins, I try to relax, surface, there it is, I relax and let the positive buoyancy carry me up. On the surface I'm happy, thinking the buoy must have been 20 meters (secretly hopping for 25).

I get to the near scuba-club and ask one of the instructors the depth of my buoy, he looks and answers calmly: 30 meters... erm what?!! "Are you sure?!", "Yep".

I'm diving alone, frox, I say to myself (it's not my real name :)), that's stupid, 30m is no child's play. Elated I decide to continue diving at around 22-25 meters where a nice wreck lies. I dive feeling good and spend the next two one hour sessions and the following day diving the wreck with hoards of scubies gawking at me!!!

The new footpockets feat perfectly, I got a PB I never hoped for, seemed to have gotten over my ear fear and continued to dive comfortably at 23 meters. Not a bad weekend :D, can't wait for the next one and I just returned... A week and a half from now I have a long weekend in Eilat again, 4 days of freediving course, can't wait...

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Its always sweeter when you have to work for it. Congratulations and thanks ofr a great story.

Great story frox! I really enjoyed it. It reminds me alot of my start in freediving, except the water was alot colder!

Isreal is a dream trip for me someday, and if I ever make it I'll give you all a shout for a couple dives :D

All the best,
You'll never look back, Frox.

One thing to watch out for though - don't mix the scuba and freediving. The advice I've been given, is don't freedive within a 24 hour period after scuba. It makes sense - if you're off-gassing, the last thing you want to do to your body is a sudden series of rapid pressurisation / depressurisations.

I have a friend who found that out the hard way.
Awesome story! So what do you think now, freediving or scuba? Scuba is still awesome for exploring and education, but freediving is by far the best for discipline, training, mental serenity.... everything. That's great you are getting into freediving now! I'm jealous, you can already go much deeper than me. Oh well, i'm 15 i got a few more years to practice :)
Thanks for all the great feedback and the karma :)

About scuba, well, I though I mentioned it in the end but it seems I haven't... No more scuba for me, not as far I can see, it doesn't come near freediving, in short I can't see any reason to scuba when I can freedive.

BTW I'm a complete junky now, I might get a house in Eilat (kidding).

Anyhow I finished the course last weekend, it was very very nice, I might write another chapter once I feel like it.

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Hello frox!

The person you saw freediving was probably former world record holder in unassisted freediving EREZ BEATUS which lives in Eilat and dives often at the shipwreck you dive at called the SATEEL !

Erez has a freediving school in Eilat and he's also the Israeli freediving team captain and coach!!

his email is erezbeatus@yahoo.com!

great story, can't wait for the encore... How awsome is DB? now you migth even get to learn from a WR holder, keep it up...
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