For all you beginner Freedivers, welcome to Deeper Blue. This site and forum are a very good resource on how to start with this wonderful activity. Before you read any further I have to make clear that it is advisable to take a Freediving course, this thread may be very good to start with, but taking a course will make everything even clearer and safer. This thread will explain basic things about Freediving, like an explanation of the disciplines of competitive Freediving useful for training, safety, the basic breathing technique, relaxation, visualisation, the dive reflex, equalisation, training tables and Freediving equipment. If you have any additions please post them and I’ll implement them in this post.
This section gives info on the disciplines of competitive Freediving useful for training
STATIC APNEA (STA)
The Freediver is floating on the surface of the water, with the face in the water (the nose and mouth immersed), holding his breath.
Dynamic can be split into two disciplines, Dynamic with fins (DWF) and Dynamic without fins (DNF). Dynamic is swimming distances underwater.
FREE IMMERSION (FI)
On his own strength the Freediver pulls himself down a rope. At the turning point or bottom the Freediver turns and pulls himself back up.
CONSTANT WEIGHT (CW)
Constant Weight can be split into two disciplines, Constant weight with fins (CWF) and Constant weight without fins (CNF). In Constant weight the Freediver swims down a line on his own strength. At the turning point/bottom the Freediver turns and swims up the line. The line may not be touched.
This section gives info on safety; contractions, black-out, sambas (LMC), laryngospasm, the buddy system, the safety procedures and underwater rescue.
Some of you may experience abdomibal contractions at some point during breathold. This is a natural reflex caused by the urge to breath (usually due to elevated CO² levels). Contractions don't mean you immediatly have to surface and breathe, you can do a while longer.
Samba or LMC (Loss of Motor Control)
You get a LMC when your oxygen level is too low. When you have a samba you shake (minor to heavily) like an epileptic stroke.
There are different types of black-outs, the Shallow Water Black-out (SWB) and the Pool Black-out.
Shallow-water blackout is a sudden unconsciousness; can occur while practicing depth disciplines. The lungs expand (due to a pressure differential on ascent) and "suck" oxygen from the blood.
You get a pool black-out when your oxygen level is way too low because of a long breath hold.
Of course it is the goal of a Freediver to never get a samba or black-out but take a look at the videos on this site if you want to know what sambas and black-outs look like:
Laryngospasm is a protective reflex that protects the airway by closing off the vocal cords preventing water from entering the lungs. This is usually stimulated when water hits the back of the throat. One should do two rescue breaths to break the spasm and the airway should open and spontaneous breathing begins. If it doesnt then continue rescue breathing at one breath every five seconds.
The Buddy system
The buddy system is a system for Freedivers to dive safely, never dive without a buddy!! Your buddy should know all safety procedures (see below). You can find buddies on this forum in the find a buddy/ places to dive forum. A lifeguard at a pool is never good enough, even if you ask them to keep an eye on you, people have drowned even with a lifeguard keeping an eye them.
The basic safety procedure is one diver down the other on the surface keeping an eye on the diver.
In static the one on the surface keeps not only the time but also taps the diver on the shoulder after a period of time, to check if the diver is still fully conscious. The diver should respond by giving an OK signal or by sticking the index finger up. If the diver does not respond to the tap turn him around immediately, keep his airways above the water and take his mask off, if the diver has lost consciousness tell him to breath or call his name and blow him gently in the face (mouth and nose) and he should wake up, never slap or shout at the diver! It is very useful to know CPR in a worst case scenario, although it is very, very rare that CPR is used to recover the diver.
In Dynamic the buddy uses a snorkel and swims along with the diver, if the diver suddenly blows out his air, pull him up to the surface, if the diver stops swimming, pull him up to the surface, after pulling the diver up to the surface use the same procedure used in static.
In Constant Weight and Free Immersion the buddy stays on the surface and meets the Freediver somewhere on ascent, never dive too deep and gain confidence in your current depth before increasing that depth. Increase depth gradually!
In this thread is a lot about getting a person to the surface:
The Basic Breathing Technique
The best way to breathe up is to take slow, deep breaths.
The breathing technique most used is the chest/belly breathing technique, try inhaling so that your belly pops out, if you succeed, inhale deeper by using your chest and belly. This technique makes you breathe slower and relaxes you a lot.
Relaxation is one of the most important things in Freediving, if you're not relaxed you won't be able to Freedive well. When you're doing Static Apnea you want to be completely relaxed, every tense muscle uses loads of oxygen and energy. You can relax your muscles by doing a routine, when your face is submerged the first thing you can do is pass your thoughts to every muscle you can think of and relax that muscle. Pre-dive (before the dive) relaxation is also very important. The Breathing technique in the above section may be a very good pre-dive relaxation technique, but there are other pre-dive relaxation techniques you can use, most of them are borrowed from Yoga. Check this site for Yoga relaxation and breathing techniques: Yoga Home Page, yoga breathing, yoga postures, Pranayama, breathing fundamentals, yoga for beginners, yoga as a mind-body therapy, yoga as an alternative therapy, alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine
When you're doing Static Apnea you don't want to think about your time and you don't want to think about "how much air" you have left. Instead you should visualise nice things, a nice beach for example, or any peaceful surrounding. Your mind passes from one thought or visualisation to another, try not to think about bad things, just good things. Some people can let their thoughts go and think nothing, that's the best thing to do, but this isn't accomplished by thinking you're thinking nothing because if you're thinking you're thinking nothing, you're still thinking.
The mammalian dive reflex
Read these articles to understand the mammalian dive reflex better:
Unraveling the mammalian diving reflex (Part I) by Erik Seedhouse on DeeperBlue.net - Fanatical About FreeDiving, Scuba Diving, Spearfishing & Technical Diving
Unraveling the Mammalian Dive Reflex (Part II) by Erik Seedhouse on DeeperBlue.net - Fanatical About FreeDiving, Scuba Diving, Spearfishing & Technical Diving
To equalize pressure in your sinusses and ears there are some techniques (see below), to equalize your mask just blow a little air in it through your nose.
Pinch your nose and try to blow some air out through your nose, this air wil go into your sinusses and ears.
CO² is the common trigger for the urge to breathe. CO² Tables are meant to increase your tolerance to high CO² Levels, you do this by decreasing resting periods before a breath hold. The breath holds in a CO² table are usually 50% of your personal record.
An example of a CO² Table:
1. ventilate 2:30 static 1:30
2. ventilate 2:15 static 1:30
3. ventilate 2:00 static 1:30
4. ventilate 1:45 static 1:30
5. ventilate 1:30 static 1:30
6. ventilate 1:15 static 1:30
7. ventilate 1:00 static 1:30
8. ventilate 1:00 static 1:30
total duration 25:15
O² Tables are meant to increase your tolerance to low O² Levels, you do this by increasing breath holds while keeping the resting periods the same. The last breath hold in an O² table is usually up to 80% of your personal record.
An example of an O² Table:
1.ventilate 2:00 static 1:00
2.ventilate 2:00 static 1:15
3.ventilate 2:00 static 1:30
4.ventilate 2:00 static 1:45
5.ventilate 2:00 static 2:00
6.ventilate 2:00 static 2:15
7.ventilate 2:00 static 2:30
8.ventilate 2:00 static 2:30
total duration 30:45
The CO² and O² tables can be modified to suit the divers will and feeling. I personally do these tables twice a week.
This thread is under construction, any suggestion/criticism is a welcome contribution!