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Thanks guys, but......

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jan 16, 2002
Hey, thanks everyone, your answers are very helpful, however, I still am not sure if you guys are actually having, and getting past your convulsions while under water??? Or is it just a static ( dry ) thing? I just find it difficult to feel like im running out of air at my usual 2 minute mark, and then just keep holding forcefully my breath through convulsions and mental anguish while at 50ft. So is this what you guys do???

The psychological aspect to this sport is very important: the more relaxed you are, the more comfortable you are in the water, the deeper and longer you can go. So if you feel panicky at 40-50 feet, 2 minutes, back off a bit and train until you feel comfortable. I'm new at this too (less than 6 months), and can't hold my breath in the water as long as I can on land because my body still tense up when I hang in the water. So relax, then relax some more until you're almost sleeping and dreaming in the water. Don't push it. Don't force things to happen. Just let it happen naturally. You'll discover how easy it is.

There's a whole range of experience you'll see on this board. Some have been doing it all their lives. Others, like me, have been doing it only for a few months. Some picked it up quickly (cool, DSV); me, I'm making slow progress.

I think the key really is one of psychology. I use to go through a panic when descending to 30 feet and it felt like I was running out of air.

When I attended the Performace Freedive Clinic in October of 2001, I soon realized through the clinic that it was more or less a physiological response that I didn't understand up until that point. As soon as I was told that the feeling would soon pass and that I could continue down further, I then put that information to work.

And Kirk was right. After applying what I had learned while at the clinic, I was able to do free immersion freedives (hand over hand down a descent line) to 40 - 60 feet at a nice gradual pace, hang for 20 seconds and then ascend the same way - and without the panic I felt before.

You will find that much of the contractions/panic that is felt is that of a survival instinct, deeply root in your subconscious. This is why it is important to set realistic goals for yourself and take each depth attempt in small increments - 1 - 2 feet deeper that your previous best - and do so gradually over time.

You should also ask yourself as to why you are diving in the first place - is it to prove something to someone else, or is it for yourself? Placing huge expectations on your shoulders just to try and impress someone else is one of the ways additional stress develops and thus reduces your performance while in the water...

Did I ramble too much and make no sense???
I'm with Longfins and Cliff on this.....take it easy. It's a wonderful past time that should be enjoyed. I love the challenge too, don't get me wrong, but try to forget that stuff sometimes. If you can dive to 35 feet for a minute or so, then relax as much as possible, and the minute will seem like like 5 minutes....Einstein was right!
When you're training for performance, spend some time diving in your comfort zone first....you will be relaxed, and enjoy your self. Look around slowly, and feel the cellular memory that most people never experience, even scuba divers.
After some comfort diving, then slowly move down the ladder. Until your lungs stretch enough to accept the depths you want to hit, you will feel the "go up" survival reaction. When I first started diving, -10 metres was agony; my chest was on fire, screaming at me that i had no air left, even though I did. Eventually that changed, and will for you too.
Most divers do not dive to -50' for 2 minutes, performance guys and spearos included. If you are getting 2 minutes of botom time, you are at the top of the curve. Most spearos are doing 45 seconds...of course there are exceptions, but they are not the norm.
I will generally go up as soon as I have reached 10 contractions when rec diving. I know I can do more, but then it gets dangerous. I would suggest that if you are at -50' and start getting contractions, that you gently return to the surface, gracefully and without angst.
Good luck, you are doing really very well,
Erik Y.
Sorry guys, you must have misunderstood me. My fault.

No way I can do 2 minutes at 50ft. Im a total rookie. I'm doing 2:20 with my face in the water.

All I really want to know is when I hit that initial running out of air feeling. ( the feeling like I have to breath ) , usually 45 secs at 30-50 ft range, or even at my surface or dry 2:25, am i supposed to get past that red faced, pressure, panic to breath, and it WILL go away???? Are there reserves? Are we talking about the same thing.

Senerio : Im diving at 35 ft, its been like 50 seconds. Myself, like most snorklers are feeling that breath i took is about gone, so i surface. Am I supposed to ignore that while I'm at the bottom ???? Does that nasty, freaked out feeling go away if i relax, or am i finsihed and i ahould head up? How do you know when your done?

Sorry eveyone, I hate to beat this to death, but i dont understand.
No worries Mark. You can certainly train yourself to resist contractions, and it's best done during static breath holds. I don't reccomend trying to fight them at depth, especially when you're not at a point where you know what your capabilities are.
Work on them during statics at home or in the water. Do your first hold, then stop when you feel a contraction. breath up for 3 minutes, then hold that one until you can get through 10 contractions. Breath up again, this time for 4 minutes. Hold for 20 contractions if possible. I wouldn't do too many every day, maybe 5 at most....they are hard on your system. Eventually you will accept the contractions, even LIKE them! Just make sure you do long breath ups; usually twice as long as the hold you just did.
Now the caveat: at home by yourself, be careful. Turn on your side when you start hitting your limit. That way if you pass out, you will not swallow your tongue, etc. I've never heard it happen, but it might. In the water, have a buddy who knows how to rescue you if you pass out....lifeguards don't count.
You will progress, no problem.
Cheers, Erik
Thanks Erik, and everyone else

Thanks for the info. I'm curious, how long after your intial urge to breath can you hold while actually free diving 35-50 ft range. By the way, do all these exceptional static or dry apneas of 5 to 6 minutes mean you can actually stay down perhaps half that? Bottom dive while under chest burn and contractions? Yopu mentioned 5-6 mintute dry apneas can usually only do 45 seconds on the bottom say 50 ft range. So it seems dry apneas do nothing for my deep dive ability.
Negative Pressure diving was a crucial technique for me

Until I had started practicing negative pressure dives in the deep well of the local pool (10 - 12 feet deep), I always had that same burning sensation at 10 meters and I would bolt for the surface when diving in open water, afraid I was going to SWB. After Kirk taught me the right way of doing them, I was able to experience those same feelings in a controlled environment (the local pool). By doing so, I was able to experience similar physiological reactions and then inwardly analyze how I was really doing. Since I had a spotter at all times, I was able to relax and thus really concentrate on my bodily processes and determine what the true urge was versus the initial discomfort.

After an initial warmup period, I am able to do a forced exhalation neg-pressure dive to 12 feet for almost 30 seconds. If I am right, that is just about the equivilent diving pressure of like over 120 feet.

By the time I am done with them, I feel like I have been on vacation and am very relaxed, since it forces you to concentrate inwardly. Consistant meta-talk while perfroming this skill will ensure your discovering your comfort zone and what you can and can't handle.


I'm very nervous when I hear about someone holding at depth. The urge to breath is reduced at depth and I don't know why. When you add in the effect of partial pressure of O2, it can be a deadly combination. The air you inhale is over 20% O2 and when it drops to 5-10% you will black out at the surface. As you train to handle the CO2 you will easily be able to hold at 33 feet until the O2 is in this black out range. The pressure doubles the amount of O2 that the body 'sees' and you'll be OK until you start up. There are too many variables involved for a watch to work reliably.

This is the technique that works best for spearing fish in Hawaii. Almost every year we lose someone doing it.

Re: Thanks Erik, and everyone else

Originally posted by mark9989
Thanks for the info. I'm curious, how long after your intial urge to breath can you hold while actually free diving 35-50 ft range.]

Mark, in warm water i can routinely hit over 3:15, regardless of depth....this is total dive time. In cold water, about 2:30. This is usually 10 to 20 contractions by the time I hit the surface.

[By the way, do all these exceptional static or dry apneas of 5 to 6 minutes mean you can actually stay down perhaps half that? ]

That's probably a good estimate.

[Bottom dive while under chest burn and contractions?]

With training you wont have the burn, as Cliff mentioned.

[You mentioned 5-6 mintute dry apneas can usually only do 45 seconds on the bottom say 50 ft range. So it seems dry apneas do nothing for my deep dive ability.]

I said that the average diver or spearo doesn't exceed 45 seconds, however, you can easily be one of the ones who does exceed it, with training and awareness!
Chers, Erik
Last edited:
Re: training

Originally posted by Bill

I'm very nervous when I hear about someone holding at depth. The urge to breath is reduced at depth and I don't know why. Bill

Makes me nervous too. The reason the urge doesn't appear as quickly at depth is because of the partial pressure of O2....your sensors and brain are receiving a higher percentage, therefore the urge doesn't come until....well you know:waterwork
Cheers, Erik
Just the answers I was looking for. Thanks

Perfect answers guys. Thanks. Its hard to absorb all this info, and am still a little unclear, but Im getting there. I'm hoping i'm a lucky one, b/c without knowing about a slow decent I was able to fast pump my way to 50ft with regular fins, hang out for a few seconds and start back up slowly with no chest burn or contractions. No big deal, I just would like to be able to do that, but stay down for like 40 secs or more. That would be great for now. I'm hoping to just be able to hold my breath longer and longer and surface without having to go through the tough stuff.
How do some of you pre-breath and take your final breath before a decent????
partial pressures

Aloha Erik

Two dumb questions when you get the time.

If 20 meters of depth triples the PP of O2, wouldn't it do the same for CO2? Seems that the effect would just cancel.

Since I was able to fully equalize at 45 meters and do a full negative to 8 meters, I must have the tongue working OK, right. Why can't I squirt a mouth full of water out my nose? I guess it ends up in my stomach. I tried standing on my head, in case gravity was the culprit, but I lose control of things when I start. Near as I could tell it came out my ears.

Is any one else dumb enough to try this stuff? Oops, that's three questions. Sorry but, I've had a cold for a while and today's workout didn't go great.

Hi Bill, the best explanation I can give is by comparing a surface static to a fixed weight dive. In a static, the level of CO2 will reach the point where it builds up to a point where the urge to breath will usually be so strong as to make the diver come up for air before the O2 level drops enough for blackout. Of course with training and will power, many of us can overcome that urge, but we are talking about the urge to breath, not the ability to resist it.
In a fixed weight dive, the partial pressure of both O2 and CO2 both rise, the O2 level p/p rises substantially, but the CO2 p/p does not approach "urge to breath" limit...when the unaware diver begins his ascent, the CO2 partial pressure drops, along with the O2 level. Since CO2 is the "trigger" for the urge to breath, it does not get a chance to do its job of supplying the urge. Again, one can stay down long enough at depth to substantially pass the urge as well, which is why that is REALLY dangerous, and makes us nervous.
In either case, ascent blackout is a possibility as you know.

Now, I don't have a clue how water got in your nose....care to elaborate? Or are you pulling my fin?
And yes, I will try anything that someone so much older and wiser tells me to do...
A joke! Just a joke! Sorry Bill:waterwork
Erik Y. ~~~~~~([:]^)~~~~
CO2 & stuff


Thanks for the answer. I knew something was going on but I thought maybe it was just the desire to get to the surface masking out everything else.

Let me re-phrase the question. If I can use the tongue as a piston, shouldn't I be able to push water from my mouth out my nose?
Your right! I just tried it and I can't do it either. I think it's the valves back there, stopping water from going past the uvula.
Quite frustrating actually.
Erik Y.
nose water

Thanks Erik. Makes me feel better. If you come here in Oct I'll buy you a beer.

I've tried to reverse-flush the nose myself, and am in agreement with Erik that the valves are pretty much a one way deal. I took a gander at some medical books on the sinuses and can see that they're probably capable of being forced outwrd, but then there's that word- forced. I also think that while I was trying to shove the water back up, there was that little voice in my head going, "Uh, hey idiot! Don't do this", and I gave in.

There's a point where your preservation instincts kick in, thank Christ.

Then why can we caugh up water or whatever else we've been drinking into our sinus and out our nose on accedent?

Might be the voluntary vs involuntary thing. And the last time I sent some water back up a sinus via a cough, I remember it not feeling real good.
I saw something about this in Mayol's new book. I'll have to check it out.

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