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longer bottom time?

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Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2001
I've been freedivng for several years and, while my static time exceeds four minutes, I can't seem to break the 1'30" range while actually freedivng (I do follow some earlier advice - "In a race, the tortoise will win"). Is the best way to improve on this to increase my cardiovascular/aerobic workouts? I jog 2 miles about 3 or 4 times per week and, besides freediving, this is my only exercise. I'm 41 years old , 5'10", 190 lbs. and in seemingly good health.

I'm thinking that if I improve my aerobic exercise, my bottom time (and depths) will improve as well. First, is this thinking correct? Second, because of my personal aversion to running/aerobic exersice, are there better (or additional) ways to acheive my goal of longer downtime (which is only in the 2 minute range)?

Any thoughts/advice would be appreciated.


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Hi Scott. I think you are in very good shape, from the sound of it. More cardio would help a bit, but I don't think that's really it. I've seen footage of Southeast Asian indigenous spearos diving for over 3 minutes with boeards tied to their feet; I don't think these guys are in any better shape than you and me. What I think is a big part of the equation is warmth. I'm passionate about warmth, because all I ever get to dive in is cold water, and I've seen what the effect is. When I had a crappy suit, I rarely dove for an hour; just as I was really getting into it, I would get cold, and my bottom times dropped dramatically. When I got a better suit, my time in the water jumped to 2 to 3 hours easily before I got cold. I have tried my 5mm Picasso in a warm 5 metre tank, and can easily spend 4 minutes down there, moving a little bit. In open water, my times are around 2 minutes, comfortably.
Kirk Krack wrote an article where he went to the HMS Dolphin submarine escape tower in Britain. The tank is 30 metres of freshwater, and I believe 95 Farenheit. He describes diving for hours, WITHOUT fins, with times in the 4 minute range.
Up here I would like to have a 7mm Picasso as well as a 3mm for performance, but I compromised with a 5mm, which keeps me warm for a decent amount of time, but still lets me dive deep.
I think being as warm as possible, with a balanced compromise to the amount of weight and flexibilty, are more important than we give credit for.
Cheers, Erik Young :p
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I share your question, Scott. And your very framing of the thread title. I don't care about depth that much, just spending more time underwater.
I wish there was more information on this stuff--perhaps it will come when more people start seeing free diving as the real thing instead of that tank stuff and there starts to be more research.
I have hit plateaus all my life, and at my age (53) I start thinking of them as permanent, but still make advances.
I'd like to know more about ways of improving down time. For instance, would a guy be better off running long distance or doing some sort of lung expansion drills?
I used to run long distance (yes, I was out of my mind) and remember a lot of research on ways of improving aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular performance. For instance, fartliks (or how ever its spelled--I hate to experiment on words like that) against just running until you drop.
Fartlek is alternating sprints with lowspeed, recovery-level running, even walking. It definitely supercharges your distance ability. It also aids in recovery.
You LEARN recovery, and doing interval training helps this. Or course, recovering is much more important in something like UWH than in normal freediving when you have nothing better to do that lie there catching your breath.
But is there any research regarding the benefits of doing widely-spaced, long dives versus doing quick series of shallower, shorter, or more exertive dives? Anybody?
I'm hoping you get a lot of response on this and will watch hopefully.
Let's not forget the Psychological Aspect

I think much of the discussion has missed a crucial point - the psychological aspects of staying down longer. As we all have pointed out - the spectre of SWB looms in the backs of our minds at all times.

I personally do not have a death wish, and realize that staying down longer could very well end my life. I guess I place too great an importance on being with my wife of 20 years+. This could very well be why I am hitting a block in not pushing my limits (in a safe manner that is).

Although I am by no means in the ultimate physical shape I want to be in, I am working towards that goal. And I have attained far more than I could have imagined so far.

But the physical part can only take you so far.

Unless the mind accepts the reality of what one is doing by freediving and transcends it, there will be the barrier by which one will not be able to maximize one's potential in this (or any) endeavor.

I am looking forward to, in the near future, attending one of Kirk Krack's Freedive Clinics to maximize my potential - by understanding and thereby training my mind to accept the discomfort and anxiety associated with longer and / or deeper dives. The mind is a powerful influence in all areas of our lives.

The very idea of overcoming the mental aspect I think is what seperates the wannabe's from the true athletes of the sport.
Re: Let's not forget the Psychological Aspect

I am looking forward to, in the near future, attending one of Kirk Krack's Freedive Clinics to maximize my potential

Kirk is the man to see. He understands the psychological and physiological aspects of freediving better than anyone I've heard of. I think he may be one of the few trainers that is consistently involved with scientific, empirical research into this sport. If you are at a wall with diving, then he will knock the wall down....way down. Plus, he walks the walk, with dives below 60 metres in cold water. Going to his clinic was the best money I've spent on freediving, and I will seek him out for more training as I advance.
For instance, I learned how incredibly shitty my entry was. It was robbing me of bottom time and overall efficiency. I thought I had a good entry, but I learned otherwise. Now I devote hours of practice just on the entry, because it's SO important.....kind of like the foundation on a building; if it's weak, the rest of it will be weak, no?
One can always learn from someone else, no matter how far they are along the path.
Erik Young
Kirk Krack Clinic


Could you talk about your entry and let us know what you were doing wrong, and what Kirk's clinic taught you. To what degree did Kirk's clinic help you improve your bottom time?

Also, does anyone know when Kirk's next clinic is? His website shows the June 2001 CA and FLA clinics, but none in the future. How many clinics does Kirk organize each year?

Thanks for any info...

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Re: Kirk Krack Clinic

Originally posted by Gattaca
Could you talk about your entry and let us know what you were doing wrong, and what Kirk's clinic taught you. To what degree did Kirk's clinic help you improve your bottom time?
Hi Nate, the main focus of what I was taught about entry was conservation of energy. I was using a 2-leg pike when diving very bouyant, thinking that I needed to, to drive my body underwater. I used the single-leg pike when weighted heavier, for shallower diving such as spearfishing (plus my gun is heavy). The technique does not need you to be moving forward, which is a good thing in competition, since you are diving on a line, and moving forward before the dive uses energy. Reach both arms straight down, tuck your torso vertically,bring one leg tight into your body, then lift it straight up. This will drive you into the water, but only to the point of where your feet will start to enter the water. Now pull yourself down with both arms...when your fins are in the water, start kicking. Bring your equalising hand along your chest up to your nose, and the other arm along your chest to point over (under) your head to form the point of the hydrodynamic slipstream.
I knew this technique before, or at least I thought I did. I taught it as PADI scuba instructor. But I never once did it properly, because I had never had someone who knows how to do it properly tell me and analyze it for me. Now, for the average snorkeller, my crappy method was fine, but many of us on this site want the "icing", the little extra that will help us dive deeper and longer. That's what I want, and hope to learn from others. The thing is, reading it or seeing it in a video is not the same as world-class professional training.
As for bottom time, it has improved for a few reasons, mainly because I know I can do it. Now that I have proved to myself that I can dive to a certain depth, then 10 to 25 metres is a walk in the park. As Cliff mentioned (and Kirk), it's mostly psychological....once you've done it, you know you can do it (very Zen, I know, but....). That's one of the attractions to performance diving; it will only improve my recreational diving.
My reccomendation is to seek out a master; you can't get a REAL black belt in the mail ;)
Hope that helps a bit,
Erik Young
I'm a little confused by some of the response here. I hear "it's deadly to try to push your time and SWB is hovering there waiting for you" and at the same time that it's a good idea to use mental techniques to push the body beyond its own physical limits. Am I missing something?

Thanks guys for all of the responses. I was thinking about Eric's comments about cold water. My static is always in my hottub - at least 85+ degrees while I freedive in springs about 70-72 degrees (with only a shorty, if anything). I can see where that does make a difference.

As to the psychological factor that Cliff talks about, this is definitely true as when I'm in perfectly clear water, I'm good for another 30 seconds and 40 feet. When visibilty is limited (sinkholes), I'm practically worthless. Entirely psychological.

One form of training that I did not mention is use of the Power Lung (thanks Cliff). I've been using it for about 7 months and my times have improved up to this current wall. Cliff, at what level are you up to? I'm only on 3 on the inhale and about 1 1/2 on the exhale and this is tough. I can't imagine ever advancing to the 6/3 level.

As an aside, I spent the weekend swimming with mermaids. Weeki Wachee Springs (a famous old Florida tourist attraction with mermaid shows) now allows snorkelling/diving in between shows. Several of the former mermaids were there just playing around and I was able to freedive with them. Only 45' deep but 200' visibility and some cool props to dive around.

Thanks again and good luck to Eric in his upcoming competition.

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Originally posted by snorklebum
I'm a little confused by some of the response here. I hear "it's deadly to try to push your time and SWB is hovering there waiting for you" and at the same time that it's a good idea to use mental techniques to push the body beyond its own physical limits. Am I missing something?

You are missing a crucial point - Yes, SWB is hovering at all times, but the mental aspect has been brought into the equation so that one has a better awareness of their capabilities. Only by combining both physical (training) with the psychological (discipline) can one dive and be within ones limits - with as much safety as feasable for the sport.

In my opinion, the only time I would ever attempt doing a dive where I would run a higher risk of SWB than normal is if I were going to attempt a deep dive that necessitated having safety divers.

Physical conditioning and mental training go hand in hand with the overall experience of freediving. Along with that, a healthy dose of common sense is needed.

The moment you decide to push past your physical limits at the wrong time is the time you will probably not make it back to the surface alive.

Plain and simple.

Also - most of the members here are not discussing the sub sport of spearfishing. We typically discuss performance freediving which requires things like advanced training techniques, safety divers, etc.
Bottom times...depth...etc....

Diving for fun is a much different psychological mind set for me than deep diving. When I'm training on the line, I have a goal in mind but I try to cultivate a hyper-sensitivity to my own physiology and psychology. I've learned this from diving with Eric Fattah, watching him do this for himself and also having to be attuned to his state of mind and body as his training buddy. Several times I've picked up that things weren't completely right and confirmed them with him--we would then modify our plans.

So having a goal of hitting a target depth is more like a suggestion and I wait for an answer from my body and mind. As if I say to myself, "I'd like to dive to 51 metres today, what do you think of that." If the reply I get is "well, I don't know, your breathe-up sucked, or you were up late last night and not 100%, you know, or you have a bad feeling in general" then I shorten the depth or forgo it altogether. Once I felt bad one day, decided to not do any deep dives past 15m and the next day I came down with the flu. Since my body was already busy fighting the virus, oxygen was in short supply.... I really enjoy setting personal bests, especially in constant ballast, but I enjoy getting to know my own mind and body even more. I have gained a lot of confidence from listening to the tell-tale signs. So far I've had no blackouts or sambas... and I hope never to have either.

When I recreational freedive to see things and enjoy the feeling of moving in any direction at will, fast or slow (you guys HAVE to try a monofin!), I stay well within my limits. I rarely push dives to the contraction point and recover for 3-4 minutes between dives. My recreational limit that I've given for myself is 25m and around 1:30-2:00 minutes. I have tried going deeper and staying down longer, but it takes so much longer to recover and breathe-up again, plus the danger of going that deep, that I prefer shallower dives. I much prefer the rhythm of repeated dives between 15-20m with easy ascents and no contractions. Since we dive here in BC with poor surface viz, as Tom Lightfoot has explained, we spot each other on the surface and keep our bottom times conservative and consistent.

I often see freedivers sometimes "dive by the watch." They look at it on the way down to get to that magic depth and at the end of the dive, they're looking at it again to stretch the time out to that magical number. Much better to dive comfortably and be pleasantly surprised by how much time you've spent completely at ease underwater. I use the gauge as a safety device: "whoops, I've sunk to 25-30m, I should cut this one short." or "1:45, time to start up."

Oh yeah, bad idea to practice statics in a hot tub. You're not supposed to stay in them for any length of time anyway. It dilates your blood vessels a lot, drops your blood pressure and makes it a lot more easy to samba or blackout. And wet static goes with a buddy, always. A prospective student of Kirk's got so excited about the Performance Freediving course the next day that he did a static in his hot tub and drowned. He was alone. And it was very sad.

Anyway, sorry for yet another long post and I hope I don't come across like I'm trying to suggest the best way of diving to anyone. Do what you feel is best. Just offering my point of view.

Vancouver, BC
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Originally posted by laminar

Anyway, sorry for yet another long post and I hope I don't come across like I'm trying to suggest the best way of diving to anyone. Do what you feel is best. Just offering my point of view.

That was one of the better posts I've seen. Thanks for the insight.
Pete writes:

"Oh yeah, bad idea to practice statics in a hot tub",


Thanks for the piece of sound advice. I have been thinking about this and agree that I should discontinue this activity (and to top things off, I am usually alone).

Beisides, my goal is just to enjoy my time underwater doing recreational freediving. Like Cliff has mentioned several times, constant ballast freediving is the goal and simply increasing/practicing static may not be relevant. I only have done so thinking that it would assist in my freediving efforts. I think I will continue VERY moderate static efforts (well below my pb of 4'15") in between my freediving opportunities but gone are the days of watching the stop watch alone in my hot tub, trying to wait it out "just a few more seconds". I'm not as skeptical as Snorklebum in this area, so perhaps this forum and advice has saved my life (I hope I am not being overly dramatic).

"I'm not as skeptical as Snorklebum in this area, so perhaps this forum and advice has saved my life (I hope I am not being overly dramatic). "

Not at all, blacking out from solitary pool practice is a very real danger. We lost a friend last year here in Canada that way. You've made a good decision.

Well, I have seen a few tapes (Pipin and others) and one of the things Pinpin said is that the first 10 mtrs is crucial to one's attempt to break a record.
In another part of the video, he explains how we should enter the water. Like your description, with only one leg up.
For me its very easy since I do not have to use my hands to equalize. What I did not understand is why you use your hands in the begining?? Shouldn't you just wait until your feet gets into the water? This would save you some "energy".(???)
I also have been timing the botton time of some spearfishing videos. Those guys stay at the most 2 min and most of the time the total time did not reach 1'30".
Actually, my goal is to be able to "easily"reach 20 mts while spearfishing (sorry if some of you do not like spearfishing) or taking pictures ( I have a Nikonos V).
Safe dive for you all.
To Arms

Hi Alex, I use both arms in deep or competitive diving where I am VERY bouyant. Wearing a 5mm suit and 8 lbs of lead gets me neutral at approximately 17 metres, therefore the top 2 metres is very difficult to get through. Not using my arms at this point will mean that my fins don't get all the way into the water, and I'll be thrashing and wasting energy there. If I am spearing or just rec diving shallower, being neutral at 7 to 10 metres, then the arms are not necessary at the beginning.
It's really about personal preference and the situation you are diving in, I think. Cheers,
Erik Y.
when one has started descend, how fast? I have read that one to one ratio, so one meter in one second is good for diveing deep. how is it with you guys do you sprint down, or just go as it goes?
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Like Eric, I weight for neutral at 30-40ft. I use 10# with a 5mil suit in salt water, 8# in fresh. I use the arm stroke at the begininning, and can attest this entry is very efficient. The Krack-LeMaster course increased (comfortably) both my bottom time (by 1min) and depth (by 50ft). I envy your ability to clear w/o use of hands. I could do that before I caught pneumonia two years ago. As stated above, having someone correcting and assisting with learning a is technique is invaluable.

Poke some pelagics for me! I find putting food on the table most pleasant when done in an ethical manner.


May I humbly suggest you try to "sleep" through your dives. A better way to say this might be: focus on where you are, what is around you, the beauty of the quiet, the colors - all with a calm mindset. The best bottom times for me are when I have been watching an anenome feeding itself, or following gorgeous fish (or other gorgeous sea creatures).
During entry, I try to have the same quiet feeling that I experience just before sleep. During descent and while exploring, I attempt to stay in that quiet place. I have a difficult time staying relaxed during the start of the ascent, due to finning so hard to get off the bottom, however, by the time I hit neutral bouyancy, I have slowed the kick and when bouyancy takes over, stop kicking altogether.
My shortest times are when I am watching the dive computer, worrying about drunk boaters and wondering if I can make the next deadline at work.

Wishing both of you fun and success at whatever you are doing.

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I spend the first portion of a deep dive focusing on strong, efficient kicking (not a sprint) and streamlining my body. I average about 2.5ft (.8m?) per second over the course of the descent (I checked the new dive computer). I am curoious about what others are doing. Anybody else care to share??
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Thanks for the humble suggestion. Makes alot of sense. When I am descending into waters that I am very familiar with, I now close my eyes and slooowly fin down, relaxing as much as I can. Then when I reach my desired depth (or bottom) I have much more air (even though it takes longer) than when I used to just shoot down to the bottom.

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