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What makes some freedivers that do not look like athletes, exceptional freedivers?

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HooSlayer

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Oct 20, 2018
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besides diving technique, what physiological or mental traits make some freedivers which do not appear athletic body-wise, exceptional freedivers. The majority of those who excel are thin or have low BMI, but I am aware of some guys that that don't have the stereotypical freediver figure (flabby have a gut, etc) that are very good freedivers. They've obviously figured something out that I have not. I've always taken the train hard, eat well approach and hope that this results in freediving gains, but I feel like I might be missing something when I observe people like I'm asking about.
 
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J Campbell

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Sep 17, 2001
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I don't think any of the current world record holders in freediving are flabby. They all are thin as a rail, at least when they set their records.. Sure, there are many awesome freedivers on the periphery of the elite, who can do amazing dives who are also a bit "flabby" - but they aren't the elite record holders.
 

HooSlayer

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Oct 20, 2018
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I don't think any of the current world record holders in freediving are flabby. They all are thin as a rail, at least when they set their records.. Sure, there are many awesome freedivers on the periphery of the elite, who can do amazing dives who are also a bit "flabby" - but they aren't the elite record holders.

Yea I'm not talking about elite world record holders.

I'm talking about people that are exceptional but not to the point at competing at the professional level and setting WR.

So back to the question, they obviously have something because they can out dive people that are thin, ripped and train hard. what is it that they are doing or have going for them that causes this?
 

Nathan Vinski

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Apr 19, 2015
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The training to become "thin and ripped, takes a lot of energy that could otherwise be spent on freedive training.

In other words, these "flabby" freedivers train much more efficiently (for freediving) than the "thin and ripped" freedivers do.
 

J Campbell

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2001
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It also has to do with individual genetics. Some people just naturally have bigger lungs, or stronger dive reflex, or higher tolerance to co2, etc. If you have all of those then you will do well even if you are flabby/out of shape.
 

cp1204

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Jul 25, 2005
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I think in freediving you get like 60% performance from relaxation, 30% from technique and maybe 10% by actual strength and fintess. So you can get a long way without actually be super fit.
 

vrokhlenko

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Sep 22, 2002
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Upper-body muscles that are useless for freediving burn oxygen. The best spearfishers I know that hunt at 50 meters are smallish in statue and have very moderate muscle development.
 

ken boring

Member
Nov 15, 2019
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You have a good point and I agree with you. It's interesting that some who excel in Free diving are not as "athletic looking" as one might expect. As a former [1993-1999] long distance open water swimmer, I'm amazed that some of our fastest collegiate/Olympic distance swimmers appear "unathletic" and yet possessed "elite" cardio vascular/pulmonary systems. This includes APNEA training in which swimmers attempt Hypoxic sets that can easily exceed 100 Meters--without the benefit of the MDR. In Dave Scotts book, Triathlon Training, he mentions how he first learned about the Iron Man. He was approached by a rather "unathletic" looking fellow--John Collins--who informed Dave of the distances required to finish the race. The book is awesome and is a must read for anyone desiring a sound understanding of exercise physiology. Last year I decided to give freediving a shot. What I discovered reminded me of what I'd learned during my competitive years and in nursing school. THE NEED TO DEVELOPE A STRONG HEART AND STRONG LUNGS! Regardless of ones appearance, the key to life--free diving or not--is an efficient circulatory system which provides robust perfusion throughout our bodies.
It's what you can't see that really matters!

Life's too short to swim without fins!
Ken Boring
 
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hteas

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Mar 9, 2005
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Maybe you need to throw in the enjoyment factor. If you really enjoy what you are doing, you are likely to keep doing it, improving as you go.
 

ken boring

Member
Nov 15, 2019
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Maybe you need to throw in the enjoyment factor. If you really enjoy what you are doing, you are likely to keep doing it, improving as you go.
I couldn't agree with you more! Although those 5 AM mornings when it was 28 degrees outside [in Fla if you can believe that], getting in was TOUGH, but worth the effort at years end when it was race time in Key West.
 

Sorandril

Member
Jun 13, 2020
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I think sometimes their lungs might be in their belly. Its happened before to a pro cyclist from France, and me.

Causes the appearance of a gut.
 

growingupninja

Lance (@socalspearit)
Mar 20, 2011
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High level freediving is incredibly dependent on metabolic efficiency--the body's ability to do a lot with very limited resources. This is something that occurs a cellular level and has nothing to do with the way an athlete looks. This sets freediving apart from all other sports. Elite competitive divers train for this but also a certain amount of power and technique to achieve their dives, whereas your old, flabby spearfisherman who is an incredible diver usually needs nothing more than metabolic efficiency that they likely developed through many thousands of hours in the water. There is no shortcut to metabolic efficiency.
 

Sorandril

Member
Jun 13, 2020
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High level freediving is incredibly dependent on metabolic efficiency--the body's ability to do a lot with very limited resources. This is something that occurs a cellular level and has nothing to do with the way an athlete looks. This sets freediving apart from all other sports. Elite competitive divers train for this but also a certain amount of power and technique to achieve their dives, whereas your old, flabby spearfisherman who is an incredible diver usually needs nothing more than metabolic efficiency that they likely developed through many thousands of hours in the water. There is no shortcut to metabolic efficiency.
Although I must say stimulating HIF using pranayama burned the fat off me quickly
 
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