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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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neoprene dreamer
Aug 22, 2001
An other stupid question..but:confused:
I have read these threads about the competiton and how people have been disqualified because of samba. What is samba exactly and how do you know if you experiece one? How can one handle samba so that he/she wouldn't be disqualified?
thank you beforehand for your answers

thanks Peter I read your article, it is informative, but dosen't have any first hand experiences, how does it feel, how can someone say that diver suffered samba, is it so obvious? how do the judges determine samba, if you move funny as you take your mask away? can it be seen from your eyes? and about the control one "can" have over samba or can it be handeled?
Thanks Peter I think I red your article earlier too, but it was good!
It is Good example of this forums/net sites informative side:p
Last edited:
If you samba you will be seen to look like the following -

Having a seizure - convulsing.

Looking drunk, and very glazed over.

The important thing to note from a judges point of view is that you will not in control of your bodily movements, I have seen people begin to samba, give the ok sign, say furiously whilst twitching away - im ok, then continue to samba for a good few seconds...
Personal experience

Hi Pekka,

I've seen a few sambas and I've had a few sambas in my time.

The first one I had was most memorable because it was my first and because I was fully aware at the time. I had just finished a big dynamic in last year's Team Canada trials. I was getting all of my usual warning signs, including leg burn and low contrast and colour in my vision but I toughed it out to the end of the pool. When I surfaced I discovered to my horror that I had trouble inhaling. It sounded like "kkkk". It took a few breaths to gain control with Kirk telling me, "Breathe! Breathe!" but I did settle down and gave my okay and smile. There was no mistaking to me and everyone else that I was having a samba.

Other sambas I have hade have (also doing dynamic) been less obvious. One time when I was coming up, my faded vision was rapidly fading and tunneling until I was almost blind as I was doing my recovery breathing. Still, things seemed fine until my spotter grabbed me by the shoulder. I was so mad; I said, "I'm fine! I'm fine!" What everyone else saw though was me stopping my breathing and starting to sink. What I had that time may have been more of a borderline blackout than a samba.

The bottom line is that samba symptoms will vary from incident to incident. If you're aware then you'll know you're having a samba if you're honest with yourself. If your world is rapidly fading around you, you'll have to trust the word of those around you because your memory may be incomplete.

The second bottom line is never push your limits without the undivided attention of at least one spotter who knows you're pushing your limits.

I hope this helps.

thanks Tom

That really answered my question, perhaps I should have asked in first place how does samba feel.. Sounds bit dangerous... though but thanks for sharing your personal experiences

another personal experience:

Hi Pekka,
I've had a couple of experiences w/ samba and one was probably borderline blackout. These were all during spearfishing sessions. My most serious was one day after work.(While I lived in the Fla. Keys) A friend and I went out to the reef for a couple of hours of spearfishing. The day was perfect, the water was like a mirror, no current, great vis, and mid 80's temp., you remember those days don't you Anderson. Well I was taking it pretty easy looking around just enjoying the experience. I saw a large shark and swam w/ it and a school of eagle rays. I had been diving alot the days prior to this and was very comfortable, maybe too comfortable. I was diving around 60' and probably getting around 2 min of BT, occasionally more. After a couple of hours of this I made a dive, just cruising around then realized I hadn't been to the surface in a while. On the way up I noticed my vision darkening. By the time I hit the surface it was totally black w/ stars. I remember taking a breath and my mind telling my legs to kick. They wouldn't. I started sinking and about 10' they started working again. I made it to the surface and just lay there w/ my legs contracting uncontrolably. There was also an acidic taste in my mouth, especially on exhalation. I'm guessing it was from excess CO2 mixing w/ moisture creating a weak carbonic acid or maybe it was from lactic acid build up. Either way i was very fortunate. This brings up several points to consider.
First, I had a buddy but not close by, if you aren't going to be diving side by side then at least check in w/ each other.
Second, beware of becoming too comfortable w/ your capabilities. You can surpress your urge to breath into the danger zone.
Third, it's easy to become distracted when you are chasing a fish or doing some other activity other than just breath holding.
Fourth, have proper surface intervals. I was probably anxious to get back to the underwater world so I was not spending the proper time breathing up.
I was very fortunate. Learn from it. Safe diving.
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Is samba the same as when you sudenly stand up and you lost your vision and equilibrium for a few seconds?. (except you are uw, of course)

Thanks for helping us ignorants.

This stand-up thing runs in the family and I became familiar with it at an early age. There is one huge difference. When you stumble or tumble ( excuse the technical terms) you cannot deny what happened, even to yourself. In most cases of samba there is a denial factor. The first thing that goes is your ability to assess your performance. This is in the 1960 Air Force manual on hypoxia and we actually did a controlled samba. It was strange to watch the other pilots try to deny what had happened, even with the evidence in front of them. Then it was my turn.

Pekka, you KNOW that the only stupid question is one that is not asked! This is an excellent question I think; it's one thing to define it, it's another to ask "What's it like?" (nudge nudge, wink wink;) ). Denial during people's experiences seems to be a big part of the answer, making me think that there are a lot more sambas and close calls going on than people realise. When I am having a good freediving day, I am so deep in the "zone" that I believe I may not remember some of it. Some of the experiences are very etherial, even transcendental for me.
I have had one good out and out blackout, which I found quite pleasant, and several sambas and close calls. Luckily I had friends with me, or I wouldn't be writing now. I believe I have a fair idea when I've had one, and I know my limitations within certain depths and times, but who knows? I might be fooling myself. Cest la vie. More good reasons to dive with a trained buddy.
Cheers amigo,
Erik Y.

Thanks Erik and all the others that have answered my question!
I just thought that most of these guys posting have had samba but I have never really pushed my limits that far...yet and I would like to know what it feels like when it happens..thanks once again to you all:p
Was this a samba?

I was very comfortable that day and I felt so at ease that breathing was not a worry, no matter how long I was down. Depths were shallow - not more than 55 feet - but were into caverns, so a lot of horizontal work against currents at 45 - 55 feet. Bottom times were not excessive either - 1:30 - 2:00. The "samba,' if that's what it was, came on a dive where I felt so at ease that I started up solely because I thought I should - had been down almost 2:00 and exerted some effort finning against a current, so figured I should head up, even though I felt no urge to breathe. I had no contractions that I am aware of.

The only thing I noticed at depth was a little muscle 'squeeze' in my thighs when I turned to ascend through the hole and gave a couple strong kicks - then I could tell my legs were low on O2 or full of lactate, and that I might be close to my limit. I wondered what would happen. When I got near the surface, I could feel a slight tingling in my face, noticed some visual sparkles, and noticed my right forearm and hand trembling a bit. The trembling was so slight and and short-lived that it was more of a curiosity than frightening, but I could not stop it at will. It was so slight that my buddy did not notice the event. I had to pull him aside to make sure he did not dive immediately because I was unsure I was ready to spot him. I rested 5 minutes or so, resumed cautiously, and enjoyed many more dives of around 1:45 with no hint of recurrence.

I figured this was a very minor samba, but not particularly troubling providing I exercised some caution and restraint the rest of the diving session . . . but what do you say?

Was this a samba, or was this just normal stuff that happens to everyone frequently? Should I have stopped diving for the day? Did I rest long enough? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

I would guess that you did experience a mild samba. I wasn't there, but hey, if you yourself felt that something was odd, that you weren't in full motor control of your own body, then well, isn't that the definition of a samba?

As far as what you did after your "samba," I invite others to offer their opinion. If I had had a samba, even a mild one. I probably would have gone in to shore and had a long rest or even called it quits for the day. I like to play it safe. For instance when I had my first and only samba in Spain during training for static, I took the rest of the day off. Others have tried to do statics later in the day, with unpleasant results. With a samba, your body is telling you that you may have gone a little too far.

For those who may say I'm being overly cautious, fine, that's the way I dive.

If you want to keep diving, my personal feeling would be that I would rest for a good 5-10 min, and pay close attention to how I felt. Then if I felt like diving, I would limit the depth and time. Having a samba indicates that you're body's worn out. It can take quite a long time to recover. Another complication is that you may not know how bad it really was. Just because your hand shook a little doesn't mean it wasn't serious or that you weren't 10 seconds away from a blackout. So if I were to continue diving, I would cut my depth and time by maybe half and have my buddy spot me up close on the ascents.

But personally, I would have gone in for the day.

Thanks for your thoughts Pete - much appreciated. Safety is why I posted the question. I'm not into taking unnecessary risks either, but without perspective, it is sometimes difficult to discern risk from the routine.
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