• Welcome to the DeeperBlue.com Forums, the largest online community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing. To gain full access to the DeeperBlue.com Forums you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:

    • Join over 44,280+ fellow diving enthusiasts from around the world on this forum
    • Participate in and browse from over 516,210+ posts.
    • Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
    • Post your own photos or view from 7,441+ user submitted images.
    • All this and much more...

    You can gain access to all this absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!

Samba/BO during stairwalking

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.


Well-Known Member
Aug 15, 2003
Today I had my first samba (possibly even BO) and I want to share my thoughts about it. Sorry for the long post.

I'm new to freediving and haven't had much opportunity to dive with a buddy, so lately I have done more and more dry practice. To practice for CW I have done some stairwalking. I start at the top and breath up as for a real dive. The first time I did it I managed 4 storeys. The second time I did 5 storeys in 1'40. That was quite hard. Today it was my third time and I wanted to se how much I could push myself. :duh

It was less than two hours since I ate and the breath ups didn't feel good, but when I got 5 storeys down I still felt good so I turned at 5 ½ storeys. Going up it soon got hard and my tempo was slow. My last clear thougt (that I remember) was "this is going to be very hard!" as i checked my watch at 1'55, less than two storeys from the top (don't remember exactly).

I suddenly thaught "what am I doing?" as I realised that I was sitting, leaning against the side of the stairway, still convulsing. I stood up, checking my watch at 2'55, feeling ok. I think the looong recovery was caused by sitting up. Stairs are not a good place to have a BO! It felt as if I had been at least semi-conscious and that I had been thinking about something the whole time. It was just like waking up from a dream, I knew I had thought about something but couldn't remember what. I only remembered that sometime during my BO I noticed my convulsions and fast breathing but didn't react to it. I had been sitting half a storey from the top and I had some cuts and bruises from convulsing against the side of the stairs. :blackeye I was lucky not to fall down the stairs, and glad that I didn't experience this under water!

I had wanted the stairwalking to be as close to CW as possible, and breathing before reaching the "surface" was not an option. However in CW you can ditch your weightbelt and pull at the rope (and get help from your buddy/safety diver!), so next time I will try to "abort the dive" early when it feals wrong, and not go the whole distance to the top. The time between thinking "this is hard" and not thinking much at all (BO) was just a couple of seconds, even if it didn't feal near as hard as at the end of a static. This is probably due to the faster change in both O2 and CO2 in the blood when active. In a real dive the PO2 would have fallen even faster due to ambient pressure dropping during ascent. (SWB!)

I hope this can be usefull to someone. Be safe!
Last edited:
Thanks for the story. Thanks for the warning.
I discussed the subject of blackout with two neurologists seperately. What you may not be aware of is; you not only have no memory of the time from blackout to wakeup but you also lose memory of the last 7-8 seconds before blackout.
That happened to me when I was a pot smoking/school-ditching teenage surfer as a result of a huge toke on a monster bong hit! :duh I woke up to a lot of riducule from my buddies. Ah, those were the days. rofl

Seriously though, can someone explain to me what samba is? I probably should know.
Fenixx my friend, you had a BO, not a samba, I assure you.
Roan, a "samba" is an "almost" BO, a point where the crossover into never-never land is reached. It's short enough that it may not be noticed by someone watching, and usually not by the "dancer". It's called a samba because there is invariably a momentary loss of motor control, which can be observed as some shaking in the hands or head, or even just a vacant stare from the diver. That's why mirrored lenses are not allowed in competitions.
Fenixx be careful, and have fun :)
Erik Y.
Bill, if memory loss is 7-8 seconds before blackout then i guess that i first sat down, then started to samba and after that blacked out.

Erik, I think you're right about me having a BO, but that doesn't mean I didn't also have a samba. I checked the definitions and to black out is "to lose consciousness due to a sudden trauma, for example" and unconsciousness is "a state lacking normal awareness of the environment". That fits just right for my experience.

I dont remember sitting down but I remember one or two seconds of noticing the sound of my rapid breathing and my body twitching against the wall but not reacting to it. This could have been before the memory loss, but I was probably not totally conscious or I would have reacted to the twitching.

My samba was quite forcefull. I have cuts and bruises on my left knee because my leg was leaning against the wall while it was twitching and I have a cut on my back even though I had a t-shirt and a thick sweater on from my legs pushing my body against the wall. (Edit: I could have gotten the cut on my back when I sat down, but not those on my knee.) My legs where still twitching when I "woke up".

I still think the reduced awareness and long recovery time where partly due to lack of bloodflow to the brain while sitting up.
Last edited:
My experience is that initially you can't remember the last 7-8 seconds before the blackout. However, that info is still stored (although weak & dim). There are two ways to remember it. Once is to virtually meditate, going in a dark area with the eyes closed and trying to repeat in your mind the last thing you remember, over and over. Eventually you may get a hazy glimpse of what happened. The other way is for someone to give you a hint. For example, when I dragged Tom Lightfoot up from his BO at the recent Canadian competition, initially he didn't remember anything of the latter part of the ascent. Then I told him a FEW of the things he did, and suddenly he remembered EVERYTHING (even the things I didn't tell him), and he told me what happened. His last memory of giving me his hand was literally one second before he blacked out, so that info really was stored in there, even though he couldn't remember it until given a clue.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
DeeperBlue.com - The Worlds Largest Community Dedicated To Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing


ISSN 1469-865X | Copyright © 1996 - 2024 deeperblue.net limited.

DeeperBlue.com is the World's Largest Community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving, Ocean Advocacy and Diving Travel.

We've been dedicated to bringing you the freshest news, features and discussions from around the underwater world since 1996.