Wednesday, December 19, 2018
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Top 5 good decisions and mistakes I made as a beginner

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
So I'm heading off to Dahab today to do some coaching, teaching, and training, officially becoming a professional freediver. It feels weird to think of it like that but I'm also really excited for it. It took a lot of work over the last 4 years to get to where I am now as a freediver and while i will never stop learning I think I came quite a long way since I started. Hopefully sharing the best and worst of what I did can help some of you to avoid certain things and take up some good habits to help your progression.

Top 5 good decisions;
  1. Taking a course: Like most I started off my holding my breath and swimming laps by myself in my backyard pool. Not only was this dangerous but I never made any progress. Taking a course gave me many tools to improve, especially access to good coaches
  2. Question everything: My natural curiosity and stubbornness made me question and research everything that I was told about training and diving. Sometimes this limited me, but on a whole I think it gave me a massive knowledge base, with awareness of all techniques and approaches.
  3. Try everything (!!within reason): if you hear or read about a technique or training approach that is different from what you were taught don't be afraid to try it. There's a big chance it won't work but there's no harm in trying and learning from it. Just make sure you have an experienced buddy watching you and who knows what you're doing. I was lucky to have instructors that shook their head at me but still supported my experimentation (this came with the nickname pink candy unicorn LOL)
  4. Working on technique: literally nothing makes diving easier than good technique. A few hours of technique training Is worth months of Breathold training. Unfortunately this took me too long to realise.
  5. Having fun. My most productive dive sessions both in depth and in the pool where the ones that I wasn't taking very seriously and had the most fun. There's zero value in hating what your doing.
  6. (** bonus) I dove for 3 years without a dive computer. This wasn't by decision but I was just a student with no money. I spent 3 years diving without any reference to depth (except the line) or time and I think this is one of the best things that happened to me as a freediver. Learning to feel your way around a dive is way more important than knowing how long you were under water, at least until you are doing proper deep diving and have to train speed and timing. Personally I would reccomend at least 1 year of diving without a dive computer.

Top 5 Mistakes;
  1. Comparing my self to others: right after my aida 2 course i got in the pool and thought that just because everyone else was doing 100m dyn I should be able to as well. This created a cycle of LMCs and frustration trying to push further than I was ready for.
  2. Too many Tables: beliving that working as hard as possible would get me to 100m faster I started doing tables and apnea walks everyday. That's how I learned about overtraining and didn't progress at all. I ended up hating holding my breath
  3. Making a big jump in depth. After (over)training during the winter I got back into depth and did 2 sessions to 20m. On my 3rd session I did 2 warm up dives, then dove to 30m. that was the worst and scariest dive I've done to date, and it created mental barriers around diving past 20m. It took a lot (1.5 summers) of time having loads of stress contractions to get over the fear that was created by that single dive. Progress slowly in easy to handle increments.
  4. Thinking better equipment will make you a better diver. Back to the pool and being stuck at 85m with plastic long fins I got my first opportunity with a top of the line waterway glide monofin. I put it on and thought that I could for sure do 125m because of how much more efficiant it would be. At 90m I started blowing blackout bubbles, and at 104 I was out. When I got the equipment-is-key idea out of my mind and improved my technique I managed a PB of 90m with short rubber training fins.
  5. Forcing myself to train. During my second pool season half way through I got fed up of training but continued anyway. This did not help me and led to mental burnout and more mental barriers. During pool season 3 I got fed up again but this time I stopped freediving and started kickboxing. You could argue that getting punched and kicked might not have been a good thing either but not over doing the diving Really helped me bring a freash attitude to my training when I returned and I saw lots of progression.

Hopefully that shows some positive and negative patterns that we all face at some point and bring some awareness to what you're doing.
Dec 10, 2017
Very helpful advice... Same with the dive computer, i really want a sunnto d4f :3 but i just finished my studies XD im gonna take a job this feb. And you'll know the first thing I'll buy :")

Sent from my HTC One_E8 using Tapatalk
Jun 11, 2017
Nathan, this post is a great reflections of many lessons I learned from diving with you! I agree with you comments, trusting yourself and having fun is the reason we lové freediving so much and if you lose the fun then why do it at all?
Likes: Nathan Vinski


New Member
Feb 2, 2018
Raleigh, NC
As a beginner, these insights are invaluable for me. Often, one's enthusiasm and interest can lead to mistakes that can be easily avoided by advice and insights such as yours. Thanks a lot, Nathan, and hope you had wonderful time at Dahab!
Likes: Nathan Vinski
Aug 28, 2017
Berlin, Germany
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us!

Although, I have to admit that a dive computer helps me with dynamic training in the pool (to time my surface time) a lot because I don't have to think about it. While deep diving I never look at the watch.
Nevertheless, it can be valuable information to see how much quicker you have been to the same depth withe the same effort after just 2 sessions of training technique ;) - which just validates you fourth point :)

Thanks again!
Likes: Nathan Vinski
Jul 27, 2017
Hey Nathan, thanks for sharing your experience, this is very valuable.

I'm assuming that you became an instructor in Dahab. How has that worked out for you? I would really like to read about your experiences as a new instructor, since I'm training with the goal of becoming an instructor next year.