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Question The safety of short dives in shallow water

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GermanFisherman

New Member
Jun 8, 2020
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Hello :)

I am a 20 years old guy from Germany who is completely new to freediving. I am already sorry for spelling mistakes. My last english lesson was three years ago....
I always loved to snorkel and „freedive“ when I spent my holidays near the ocean. But I never read or informed myself about the dangers and risks that are coming with this sport. Because it never felt dangerous. I was just a casual tourist who enjoyed to go on short dives while snorkeling (~1 Minute dives with a maximal depth about 10 metres).
I also really enjoy fishing in lakes around my area. That is why I just bought some freediving Equipment to search good fishing spots in those lakes. I would not dive deeper than ~5 metres and my dives would not take longer than 1 minute. I am not the kind of person who wants to push his limits. Unfortunately I did not know anything about the risks of freediving until I started researching yesterday....
That is why I would like to know whether the common risks and dangers that are coming with solo freediving are also present for shallow and short dives without pushing limits?:)

Best regards,
Laurin
 
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cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
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Are those dangers present for short shallow dives? Yes, but the B0 risk is much much smaller.

A buddy is better than none for a whole raft of reasons, not just black out. Specificly to B0, its pretty hard to B0 in 5 meters with a 1 minute dive, assuming average physiology and a reasonable rest period on the surface(bare minimum 1 minute, 2 is much better). However its possible, if you do something sufficiently stupid. I've seen stars and developed tunnel vision during short dives in about 3-4 meters, kissing distance from B0, hyperventilating like crazy to go back down as quick as possible and shoot another fish. All this assumes you have normal physiology, something you don't know.

Can you get away with what you want to do? Probably, but that is a long way from certainty.
 

GermanFisherman

New Member
Jun 8, 2020
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Thank you Davis :) I will ask some friends to join me and if I go alone I will make sure that I will not dive longer than one minute. Maybe I can buy a watch that shows me how many seconds I am under water.
 

dcvf

Member
Aug 15, 2015
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Hi GermanFisherman,

I think you should easily find an apnea tutorial with GOOGLE.

Any way :
1) Don't hyperventilate (*)
2) your ‘buddy’ must be able to rescue you!
3) before the ‘duck dive’, practice only 3 deep ventilations.
4) when you return to the surface, don’t look at the surface, only very short time for sure you will not bump on something, your head must be aligned with your body, not with a bended neck

What's the water temperature and the visibility, where you freedive?
Do you use: a low volume mask, a weight belt, a buoy?

(*) with GOOGLE, search these words :
Blackout ( BO)
Samba in freediving
Hyperventilation in freediving
Weight belt

If you read French?…I can also help you on my forum.

See you
dcvf
 
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GermanFisherman

New Member
Jun 8, 2020
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Thank you dcvf :)
I am already googling everything about freediving to understand the theory behind it. The water temperature is about 18 degrees on the surface and ~10 degrees five meters under the surface. But I already have a decent 5mm wetsuit.I do not use a low volume mask and I do not use a weight belt for now. Maybe I will buy a weight belt in a few weeks but I will only use it after trying it out in a pool. The visibility is about seven metres.
Unfortunately I do not speak french.
Best regards, Laurin
 

J Campbell

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2001
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The "resting" part is very important. It can be very boring floating on top for a couple of minutes when all you want to do is get underwater again. It's tempting to cut the rest short - Don't do it. You may feel fine and fully recovered but you body still is metabolizing waste products from you previous dive. So you must rest after each dive.
 
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GermanFisherman

New Member
Jun 8, 2020
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Okay I will always remember the resting part. I do not spearfish and dont need to chase any fish. So i will be fine to rest after each dive.
 

dcvf

Member
Aug 15, 2015
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Hi GermanFisherman,

Please find here below the principal AIDA recommandations.

Practice the ‘Belly breathing’.

The exhalation time must be twice the inhalation time

During your ventilation before the ‘duck dive’, if you feel one of those sensation, breathe normally and don’t dive until the symptoms go away:
- euphoria
- tingling in the extremities
- lightheadedness
- dizziness
- numbness around the mouth
- metallic taste in the mouth
- semi paralysis of the hands

Don’t hold your snorkel in mouth under the water.

If you use a weight belt, you must still be ‘positive’ at 10 m.

Keep your air during ascending, don’t exhale in the water.

The first exhalation must be short and passive, followed by deep ventilation.

Resting time, at least 3 times the one of the previous apnea


For long apnea, you can still 'Black Out' after 30s surfacing see the video at 6:12


 

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,079
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Thank you Davis :) I will ask some friends to join me and if I go alone I will make sure that I will not dive longer than one minute. Maybe I can buy a watch that shows me how many seconds I am under water.
Your personal comfort at a given time is a pretty good indicator, provided you will not be "pushing it" or trying to overcome your natural survival mechanisms. I spear alone, so I do not push my limits. I find that over the course of a day and a year, my depths and down times tend to increase naturally. I don't time them because that information is less important to me than how I feel and it might confuse my decision making. Also, I can't read my watch without spectacles these days :D. I'm not advocating this approach, just describing what I do and why. It has worked well for me, so far.
 
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Mat-T

Member
Sep 12, 2014
7
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Hello :)

I am a 20 years old guy from Germany who is completely new to freediving. I am already sorry for spelling mistakes. My last english lesson was three years ago....
I always loved to snorkel and „freedive“ when I spent my holidays near the ocean. But I never read or informed myself about the dangers and risks that are coming with this sport. Because it never felt dangerous. I was just a casual tourist who enjoyed to go on short dives while snorkeling (~1 Minute dives with a maximal depth about 10 metres).
I also really enjoy fishing in lakes around my area. That is why I just bought some freediving Equipment to search good fishing spots in those lakes. I would not dive deeper than ~5 metres and my dives would not take longer than 1 minute. I am not the kind of person who wants to push his limits. Unfortunately I did not know anything about the risks of freediving until I started researching yesterday....
That is why I would like to know whether the common risks and dangers that are coming with solo freediving are also present for shallow and short dives without pushing limits?:)

Best regards,
Laurin
Dear Laurin,
In general I would recommend that you take a course prior to going freediving. And please, never freedive alone - always dive with a competent buddy.
Also, please be aware that spearfishing is prohibited in nearly all lakes in Germany. There theoretically may exist some privately owned lakes/ quarries where it is allowed (which I have never heard of) however it is definitely prohibited in all publicly held lakes.
Even a fishing license (with cord and hook) for the lake does not allow for breathhold spearfishing with a speargun.
 

DivingNomad

Active Member
Sep 21, 2015
205
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Why not do the best, safest, most efficient with best results thing and take free diving lessons with a licensed professional and experienced free diving instructor? This not only be safer and most efficient but also least troubles and least waste of time and effort.
 

GermanFisherman

New Member
Jun 8, 2020
7
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Good morning from Germany :)

I dont want to go spearfishing in Germany. I am aware that it is illegal in my country. I just want to dive in the lakes where I am fishing with a rod to spot fish underwater ;) And I also just like to experience the underwater world. I am already looking for a freediving course but most are canceled because of Covid 19 and there are also no courses in my city. But I will definetely attempt in a course before I am getting seriously into freediving. For now I just want to do really short dives in low waters.
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
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I’m a bit of a renegade but I don’t think you are in any danger at the times and depths you describe. If you don’t feel like you are pushing your limits then you probably aren’t. Would a freediving course be of benefit? Sure. But a course would teach to push your limits and pushing your limits is not a good idea unless you have a dedicated and qualified buddy, and it doesn’t sound like you
have one.

I may just be lucky, but I’ve been diving since I was age 13 and I’m 81 now and I haven’t taken a course. But I never push my limits.
 

HLanger1955

Well-Known Member
May 17, 2013
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Important to remain in the comfort zone, in particular when you don't have a buddy around (which is not always possible). You can blackout even during a dynamic session in the pool, with depth 1.5 -2m...Take care !
 
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DiveHacker

Active Member
Jun 17, 2020
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This is a touchy subject, but I think the instructors are obviously favoring the conservative side. Way on the conservative side, as they should.

I started freediving when it seemed like there were no instructors. It did not even seem like there was a way to access info on frenzel as far as I could tell. Maybe from meeting a competitive freediver.

Now, we have all the great benefit of this widely available instruction. But, I notice that two of the most prominent things that come up in these instructional videos are : "shallow water blackout and death are a real possibility, even in shallow water".... and "you need to stay calm when you are freediving".

Those two things do not mix very well. They mix like oil and water. So, if we are learning "correctly", we learn we need to be scared of dying, but to be calm. It makes no sense.

I came up when there was no information, as I said. And it sucked, but it was also good in many ways. I think the shallow water blackout is overemphasized, I think everyone should be aware of it I suppose, but I feel like much of my diving when I started would have been tainted to a large extent.

There is no right answer I suppose, but there are risks when you do anything. I personally think shallow water black applies much more to people really pushing it. They know the risks most likely.
 
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Andrew the fish

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2010
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Wow. May I confuse things a little further?
Hi GermanFisherman,

Please find here below the principal AIDA recommandations.

Don’t hold your snorkel in mouth under the water.

If you use a weight belt, you must still be ‘positive’ at 10 m.

I hold snorkel in my mouth under water, for reasons unknown to freedivers. I am neutrally buoyant at 5m. And this
2) your ‘buddy’ must be able to rescue you!
? Some places I spear are terraced to abbyss depths, if I had a buddy he would have to go technical to recover the body. Now, imagine you and your buddy are young lads in their early 20’s, competitive gungho full of testosterone. You two will be guaranteed to push your limits, with limited chance to save each other. While I adree with general idea that having a companion is safer, we need to admit that this may go the other way. What if your little known stranger ‘buddy’ turn out idiot hero, whom you will bust your arse trying to save?

There are many dangers to spearo apart from SWB. Boat traffic, currents, ocean swell, rocky shore, things like that. My safety is in my situational awareness and decision making process. It is not in how I stretch my lungs or pack or duck dive.
 

GermanFisherman

New Member
Jun 8, 2020
7
2
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Thank you guys for all the input! It is helping me a lot :)
But it seems like there is always a risk. Even without pushing my limits. But to me it sounds that the risk of a blackout is not that high if I do not push myself. Unfortunately I dont have a budy. None of my friends is interested in this hobby and there is not an apnoe community in my city. Maybe it is comparable to driving a motorcycle for fun. It is always a risk but you can do your best to stay safe...
 
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HLanger1955

Well-Known Member
May 17, 2013
110
20
58
It is a good idea to attend a corse. If there isn't where you live, maybe organizing a nice holiday including such a corse can help ?! Getting at least some basic instruction is extremely helpful, both from the technical point of view as well as safety instructions, especially when you've dificulties to find a buddy.
 
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