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How much danger am I in?

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.

Should Gordon continue to train like this?

  • Are you mad? Never, EVER, train or snorkel without a partner!

    Votes: 7 15.6%
  • Until you REALLY know your limitations, stay on the surface buddy!

    Votes: 14 31.1%
  • Get a buddy if you're looking for a new PB, but otherwise it's okay.

    Votes: 15 33.3%
  • Don't be a baby, do what you want to do, it's a free world, free dive.

    Votes: 4 8.9%
  • When your time comes, it's here, in the shower, in the pool or the car... deal with it.

    Votes: 5 11.1%

  • Total voters


Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2005
Greetings all,

This is a great forum and I love reading all of the stuff here but it's made me a little paranoid about the risks of freediving. For as long as I can remember I've been holding my breath and swimming underwater, racing with friends underwater, seeing who could hold their breath the longest, swim the furthest etc - I'm sure most of you started off the same way.

Now I'm older and after reading up on it I'm now wise to some of the ways that I can extend my abilities and, therefore, my enjoyment of the underwater world.

So far so good, right.

The problem is that there are no freedivers where I live so whenever I "train" I do it alone. I've always been able to swim at least 40m underwater if I decided to "push" myself and since I've started doing it more regularly I can now do 60m. I am, however, on my own when I do this, in the pool in my apartment complex.

Nobody is watching me but I don't feel like I'm exactly pushing myself, but with all that I've been reading I'm now concerned about the risks. It's an unfortunate position to be in: I have daily access to a relatively decent pool (20m long), regular access to warm water (I live 5 minutes from the Caribbean Sea) and great snorkelling (anyone ever been to Bonaire or Curacao?) but in spite of a lifetime of similar activities, everything I read tells me that I'd be insane to consider doing any of this by myself and I need a qualified, trained and educated buddy to be watching me.

So for the past week I haven't been doing any dynamics because of the risks. But it feels kind of silly - as I say, I've been doing this my whole life. And as much as I love swimming (I'm still going swimming every night) it doesn't have the same meditative effect as my nightly apnea session.

What do you recommend oh wise ones? I want to see my 30th birthday (in April) but I'm not inclined to excessive caution.

I await your verdict.

I'd get somebody to start spotting you. You really need someone watching you in the pool and I bet you could tag along with some scuba divers in the Ocean for safety's sake.

I used to dive alone quite a bit, both free and scuba, but have since stopped all of that after attending a clinic, where I found out the true dangers, and having children- whom I want to see grow up!

There is a freediving school of some sort over on Bonaire that you should look up. I've free/scuba dove in both Bonarie and Curacao and must say that both islands are excellent for freediving. The whole place is practically desgined around the sport- with decent drop off just a few yards out from shore and warm water year round. The lack of current on Bonaire, and the north west side of Curacao also make things much easier than some place like Cozumel.

I bet if you looked around you might be able to find someone else to take the course with you and get out for some regular dives.

Take care,

Wow, that was quick. Silly me, in the past I've asked most of the dive schools here in Curacao but none of them knew of anything, never thought to contact anyone in Bonaire. Maybe they'll know of someone over here as well and we can get together.

Thanks for your help Jon, much appreciated. And glad to hear that you've enjoyed the rich pastures of the Antilles: we love it down here :)

We lost someone up here in Canada not too long ago in a pool, even with a lifeguard spotting him.
Be careful.
Erik Y.
Erik, how closely was he being monitored by the lifeguard? I always tout that pool apnea with safety support is ~100% safe. This case seems to disprove that claim, or was there a lapse in the vigilance of the lifeguard?
Hi gwpcasey,

Glad to see you are enjoying soaking up the DB knowledge. Hard to believe how much good stuff gets posted here.

On your question, I agree with Jon, get a spotter, especially in the pool. The urge to make that extra 10 yards is just too strong. I used to dive basicly alone (same ocean) spent many years dumb and happy, shot many tons of fish, stayed down way too long lots of times and never had a serious problem. Then I found DB and started learning. Dive times went way up, depth more than doubled, etc etc. The same thing will happen to you. But! , the BO point doesn't change near as much as the ability to stay down, decreasing the safety margin. IMHO, improving skills put us much more at risk than we used to be, even if we become much, much more careful. A spotter/buddy becomes a requirement.
Will, the diver had arranged with the lifeguard that, after a 3 or 4 minute window of static apnea, he would move his index finger every 15 seconds or so.
Obviously the lifeguard has a job to do and I imaqgine it is difficult to see a freediver at the bottom of the pool while you're trying to monitor a crowd.
I don't remember the exact details and anyone feel free to step in to clarify, but it went like that...and the diver died. Young man with a family, training to enter a CAFA competition.
So the moral is, I suppose, that the spotter should be knowledgeable about the process of a breathold and that there are clear parameters around what procedures to follow.
Erik Y.
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I thought that Curacao had a tech-diving facility on the island now. That would be my first place to check for trying to convert someone.

I will go out on dive charters around here and dive with scuba divers as my cover when I can 't get another freediver out to spot me. Not ideal, but it works and I know that they can reach me since they already have the gear on. Since we're diving wrecks aorund here we all stay in the same location and don't get to speard out.

The pool has claimed many a diver trying to improve his performance alone. There's a lawsuit going on in my town right now where the lifeguard left the deck and a lady drowned- who wasn't practicing apnea. You need to have someone in the water WITH you who knows how to respond.

gwpcasey said:
Greetings all,

The problem is that there are no freedivers where I live so whenever I "train" I do it alone.

regular access to warm water (I live 5 minutes from the Caribbean Sea) and great snorkelling (anyone ever been to Bonaire or Curacao?)

Isn't this a bit of a contradiction? If people in freaking Alaska can find another freediver, I'm pretty sure there are some in the Caribbean Sea. Now go and get your self a buddy! :)

Oh, and welcome to DB.
I think you should find yourself a buddy if you are doing any kind of training.
It is very important - I have been in many situations where I or my buddy has got into trouble.

Welcome to Deeperblue - and you are lucky to have such great diving opportunities!

Just wanted to log in a quick thank you for each response. In keeping with your advice I'm not doing anymore training underwater until I find a buddy. Which could take a while but, hey, what can you do... so I'll just stick to O2 and CO2 tables for now, I guess, and walking around without breathing is always a lot of fun for my colleagues so they'll appreciate the new impetus in my dry training.

Thanks again, happy Tuesday.

we also lost someone in a pool recently, a private pool without a lifeguard but I'd still say never train in the water without someone at your side who knows what you are doing. It just ain't worth it - and hey it sounds so great where you live, if you really get stuck pm me and I'll move out there....

: )


I like to share some ideas:

You really need someone watching you in the pool…

Even though I’m sure this is meant with the best of intentions that statement as it is I regard as quite misleading. The reason is: in order to increase ones safety one needs a spotter/safety diver. This is a person with certain skills and knowledge acting in a very specific way in case a situation requires it. ‘someone watching’ is just a person. Unless that person is trained enough to become a safety asset I actually see an increase in risk. Since the diver assumes to be in safe hands if he needs assistance he can easily become overly confident and push his limits more than he would when solo diving.

I think erik’s case shows that clearly. without prior detailed arrangements a person at the edge of the pool, even a lifeguard, won’t increase your safety. Assumption is one of the bigger mistakes one can make.

…and I bet you could tag along with some scuba divers in the Ocean for safety's sake.

tagging along scuba divers is in my experience the last thing to increase safety. I freedive a lot with scuba divers around me. I have never ever (in the last 3 years!) been checked upon when lying motionless on the bottom for a while. Divers see me as something of a curiosity and every single one I was actually talking to afterwards said they didn’t want to disturb me. They assumed I know what I’m doing there and therefore let me be.

In the end it probably comes down to what every single person feels is the bare minimum in safety requirements.

An interesting poll might be how often people practice their rescue techniques.

greetings from thailand


Dynamic Spotting

Here is what I do when I have a willing spotter, but whom either lacks the physical ability (like the wife) or the knowledge of how to spot. I made a lease that the spotter can walk with along side the pool.

I took a surfer’s wrist strap, attached it to 250 lbs spectra fishing line and ran it to dowel handle. The drag is minimal, actually non-existent if the spotter walks in front. The line has only snagged on me a couple of times in the turns and then the spotter just walks behind me until the end. The line only snags if the spotter is not paying close attention and gives too much slack at the turn. The only time I have notice any drag is if the spotter walks beside me thus pulling the whole line sideways through the water.

I have done several recovery experiments and I am convinced it’s the quickest, easiest and safest way to be spotted.
Last edited:
It would be nice to always have other freedivers to dive with, but this isn't the case around here.

I should have also prefaced my statement that when I dive with scuba divers I actually "dive" with them. We are almost always on a wreck, so limited distance to travel. I follow their bubble trails and drop down to dive with them. I never just lay on the bottom to practice a static- it might freak them out. I am usually taking their picutre, or pictures of them looking at the wreck, or else I am often found putting their tanks back into their bc's because they didn't soak the straps properly in the first place. Sometimes I retrieve things that they dropped- usually with my scooter if it's something heavy, like a weightbelt. They know to look out for me and I am looking out for them. As with all types of buddy diving, rec/ tec/ freediving, it pays to go over the ground rules before you jump in the water.

Personally, I don't see a problem doing some underwater breath holding without a spotter. BUT I must emphasise that I wouldn't do more than 25m.
If going further, I always train with a buddy. I would never ever dream of relying on a lifeguard -they have enough trouble with people on top of the water.
I think a lot must come down to how comfortable you feel..but maybe I'm wrong. If, for example, you regularly manage 75m, surely half that distance can be considered safe?
When training alone (with other scubies and not a freediver) I do 25m reps with a break in between and that feels fine. Please feel free to tell me off if you think this is irresponsible....
Has anyone here ever blacked out or had a samba when they weren't really pushing it to the limit?
Also, while I'm on about it, what are the alarm bells? Or aren't there any?
I've heard of people having sambas etc, but anything else - or is it just 'BOOM' and it all goes black??? Some comments from those of you who have blacked out could really help define 'limits'
(I'll also check the search facility for similar threads)
  • Like
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Glad you said it. At the risk of being called irresponsible, I would have to agree with Jon71 & the dairyland Jon. In a perfect world we would all have willing spotters all the time. But that isn’t the case. If not having a spotter means I have to stay out of the pool for three months, then I’m going to do some moderate solo pool work, or in Jon case, some light diving with scuba divers.

The reality is most freedivers who have died solo pool training did it in statics. If anyone knows of someone who did it doing dynamics please inform me. The reason is that in static low O2 can happen without much warning. In a dynamic the build of CO2 provides a better feedback as to how you are doing.

I feel that doing ½ my max distance, like Jon71 suggested is quite safe. For instance I can do 50 meters without much difficult. If I do a 100 meters in the last 50 I will experience blurry vision, sometimes narrowing of vision, and always a great deal of pain. The fear of dying is more than enough to keep me from ignoring these symptoms.

On the other hand, I won’t even attempt a 2:00 minute static by myself. I have too much first hand experience how easy it is blackout in wet statics. There is also no point in doing a wet static for a safe time, because a safe time without a spotter is so short its not going to push the body to make any adaptation changes. You’re better off doing a longer dry static than a short wet static.

In dynamic, I believe you can safely get into the beginning of the CO2 building tolerance range, and you get to work on form, which is crucial for good dynamics and good diving. Even if a 25m or 50m is easy, you can play with form and technique in an attempt to make it even easier.

I still believe the best is with a partner and that is always my goal. Anyone who knows me knows I try to hard to get training partners and have drove 100’s of miles just to train with someone. Jon the dairy land diver is in the same situation. The reality is some of us just don’t have other freedivers who are interested in training in our area. So we have to do some solo water work to keep our form and do a lot of dry apnea to push our limits.
Just my 2 cents
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While I tag along with scuba divers and swim some short lengths underwater, to train for hockey, I never push my dynamics without another diver in the water with me and I never do statics without another diver with me- which means they all get done on dry land.

I just read, on another list, that we just lost another diver in a pool practicing statics by himself. I forgot the exact details, since I already deleted the email, but it just happened in the past week. :waterwork

jon71 said:
Has anyone here ever blacked out or had a samba when they weren't really pushing it to the limit?
Also, while I'm on about it, what are the alarm bells? Or aren't there any?
I've heard of people having sambas etc, but anything else - or is it just 'BOOM' and it all goes black??? Some comments from those of you who have blacked out could really help define 'limits'
I have blacked out when I wasn't pushing it to the limit - there was no obvious reason.

I don't think there is any warning - at least for me, there is nothing to tell me whether I can safely push myself more or not, and others on DB have said the same.

The blackout is instantaneous - I don't even remember everything going black. It was more like a change of scene in a film - one moment I am thinking 'I can easily do much longer...' and the next, I am in my buddy's arms and he is telling me to breathe.

I sometimes do dynamics alone to about 1/2 to 2/3 of my maximum distance, but I wouldn't recommend this.

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