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My first competition

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Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2001
Hi all, last weekend were the first colombian national championships and also my first competition. With my brother and another guy (a monofin and scuba instructor) I thougth we will be the champion team, and my brother and I the first and second place. Wrong!.
I just have one day before competition to train. I'm living far away from the sea so my training is basically in the pool and my static cycle. That day I woke up at 5:15 am to train static with my brother. He uses to practice without wetsuit because he likes to get cold. At 30 minutes of practice we was shivering, that day was really cold and there was a lot of wind. I came up frustrated with my static training but hope the CB will be better ( and it was). We found a place where the ocean was a little calm and star practice I did two empty lung dives (10 and 15 meters) then a CB to 20 with 1 minute hanging and 30 meters with 50 secs hanging. With that I said I was ready for my 40 meters dive in the competition.
The next day was the static competition I announced 4 min and my brother 5 min. We were the last participants and the competition started very late. When I started to warm up I was a little bit afraid, and I couldn't make more than 4 min. At least the announced I thougt. I finished the warm up and wait in the transition area for my turn. At that moment I start to felt an incredible cold, I dried my head, feet and hands but still felt to cold, then I sat down with the sun in my face and started to breathe very slowly, I was really nervous, when the judge call me to the competition area I was like in trance, I heard her voice but very far from me. I heard "2 minutes" looked at my watch an felt fine. At the voice of "official time" I took my deep breath and get into the water. I felt like in a dream, just flowing in the water. I think that I fall sleep for a while, until my assistant scream "2 minutes" that scared me and wake me up. I felt very calm and wait until the 4 mins. still feeling well. When I heard 5 minutes I decide to get out, because the judge was very strict and I don't wanted a disqualification. My brother was very happy and congratulates me, I felt like in heaven. Then my brother with a quick warm up did 7 mins easily. We were so happy, he has the first place and I the second, and our team was the first too. The next day was the constant ballast competition. We have a lot of points over the others, the sea was rough and there was a lot of current, so we decided to announce a lower depth (40 for me and 48 my brother), so we fixed in 36 for me and 42 for my brother, we thougt it was better to make a depht that was easy, because of the bad conditions and the stress of the competition.
The competition was supposed to start at 11 am, but it was delayed until 4 pm (I had to travel the same day at 5:55 pm). In the boat I was very calm, nobody announced when I have to start the warm up, when they call my brother for competition I realized that I needed to start my warm up, I just warmed up for 20 minutes my last dive was a free 30 meters dive with a 30 secs hanging, when I get out from it I heard:" Frank Pernett to competition zone". "Just 2 minutes to breathe" I thougth. At that moment I lost the calm, and started to hyperventilate. "1 minute". Shit. "30 seconds" You can do it. "Official time" OK, just do it now. As soon as I started the immersion I couldn't equalize my right ear. Shit. I just need to make the BTV technique to equalize until 35 when I turn to Frenzel-Fattah technique, but I have to start with the FF from the beginning, slow down the descent, I was fighting with my ear, when I realized that was at 30 m, the ear doesn't wanted to equalize again, I looked the bottom and decide to go for it with the pain in the ear, I made it and started to go up. I was thinking that the way down effort was very hard, and I will be really fatigued in surface (disqualification come to my mind). You have to grab the buoy as soon as you surface-said to my self. But when I reached the surface my head and hands started to move without control (A samba, I'm out of the game).
It's incredible how sad I felt, how angry with me. My brother looked at my looking for an explanation. But no time for it, I had a plane to catch and I have to swim to the coast. Said godbye to my brother with tears in my eyes and started the swim to the coast. I losted the second place and also my team lost the first place. My brother get the first place.
My first reaction was to quit the competition and continue with recreative freediving. But today I made a decisition. I will try again in march.
With my errors I learned.
Last edited:
Hi Frank ,
Thanks for sharing your experience . It's tough to run into such difficulties on your first attempt , but as you pointed out , as long as you learned something from it , you have benefitted .
Good luck with your future comps .
Hi Frank,

same thing happened to me !
I went in Australia's first ever freediving comp and was pretty confident I'd take out 1 st place.... Wrong !
My start time for the statics got changed a couple of times, even after I had already done my last warm up. Stuffed my routine up and made the mistake of going for a time that I could normally do, came up at 5.44 or so, head was shaking, Samba.

Was really anoyed at myself, this was selection to see who would compete in the pacific cup. I'd blown it.

By a stroke of luck I ended being one of the reserves, went to Hawaii and my diving got really good in training, and went in the comp. I set an official Australian depth record at 58m and scored the most points on the team. We were all very suprised and happy to take out 5th in the wolrd championship, didn't expect to do that well.

Anyway don't let it beat you, you will kick arse next time, trust me.

Lot's of little things in a comp can really effect your performance. Work out a warm up routine and time it, make it a schedule. Practise countdowns in training. On comp day bring a couple of watches, double check your start time. Check out the pool before hand, how warm is it ?
What sort of wetsuit will you need ?

All this sounds boring but little details like this make a huge difference.

Cheers mate,
I know exactly how you feel,
Live goes on

Thanks Abri and Wal,
I knew I'll get good advice from my "freediving family".
I'll make it again, and will take more care of that little things before the comp, that make the difference.
Next time, I'm sure things will be better
1st Competitions

Here in Canada we have a simple rule for anyone in their 1st competition:

- If you get more than 0 points, you're doing better than average

Most competitors here get 0 points in their 1st competition.

I got 0pts in my first competition (Constant weight - started after official top= 0pts, static - started after official top = 0pts, dynamic apnea 100m w/samba).

Then, in my first international competition (Switzerland 2000) I blacked out on the surface at the START of my dive from packing with low blood pressure and too much breathing.

Everybody made fun of me after that, they called 'le japonais' (the japanese) from the Big Blue, who blacked out from too much breathing. Everybody thought I was a big joke of freediving, and I wanted to prove them wrong, and one year later I did with my first WR...

Remember also that during the warm up for a competition, you always feel bad. Expect to feel bad. It happens every time. Every time I am warming up, I say that I will never go to a competition again; I say I will only do recreational diving, for fun. Each time, after the competition is over, I say, 'yes, I will try again.'

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Hey Frank,

You got out there and did it. That's all that counts. The more you do it the better and more relaxed you'll feel.

I do have to say I must be one of the lucky ones. Last year after 2 1/2 months of training was my first comp, US Team tryouts. I was so nervous I had a very upset stomach. I felt that way up until I heard the judge say "Two Minutes" then all of a sudden I went completely calm. I did 5:36 static and a 38m dive (due to ear problems). But now that seems to be my routine for the constant ballast portion of the comps. This year same thing happened in both tryouts and World Cup. I got nervous the night before and all the way up until the "Two Minutes" and then every thing is peachy. Statics have changed, I'm not nervous at all any more. It's more like "OK lets get this over with". I'm hoping that my dives will some day feel the same as the statics.

Good luck and dive safe!


P.S. Walrus, from now on I'm keeping my mouth shut. No more secrets for the new guys. :mute

Email me about some pics OK.
I want also to share my "souvenirs" of my first competition.
(Guss will remember it, and maybe complete the story...)

It was on 24 august 2002, a day to remember...

During the previous days, I had increased my dry static time from 5'33 to 6'00 in just some weeks and after one year without any intensive training, and no long statics.

The problem, was that I had never tried long statics in water... Just 3' in a jacuzzi at the gym... In spain, freediving is totally unknown, as in many countries, and I hadn't a pool for training.

My training was intensive: at least two hours a day for one month and some days rest before the competition. The last training days, I was able to do 4'45' statics in the train.

The competition consisted in one static, and one dynamic. The day was rainy, so the organizers gave plastic bags to protect spectators...

I was nervous and calm at a time. In spite of the rainy weather, I wasn't cool in my wet suit. At least at the beginning.

The organization wasn't really good, so I finished getting cold after 45 minutes in the water.

Usually, I use to breath deeply and relaxed a couple of minutes before the static, but at this moment, I realized that the conditions were really different, so I thought "Ok, I hyperventilate a little, and I stop before than I use to" . I had announced 3 minutes, so I wasn't stressed by this point.

The 10'' countdown: I stop hyperventilating after 30 seconds, more or less, and I begin packing. I put my head under the surface... Until 4'15, no pain, no contractions, no cold, everything was going perfect... the easiest static in my whole life.
The next thing I remember is a lot of eyes staring at me "hey, why am I not in the water?" And I tried to take off my goggles... no goggles... So I gave the Ok and I realized what had happened. A samba, followed by a blackout...

Then, I did my dynamic correctly, and that's all...

But I learnt that you cannot see the blackout come... the easiest dive can be the worst.

I'l try next time...

I'm thinking that will be good to practice the competition. You know, to get use to that stress. I'll start my practice again and I will make a comp sim, to control the stress. Thanks all for your experiences it's good to know that elite freedivers also have that problems in the beggining.
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