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Where are your hands?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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1 Tadpole

I'd rather play than work
Jul 27, 2002
I just viewed a couple pictures of Fred Buyle ascending without hands extended. Being new to freediving I'm curious to know where YOUR hands are during ascent, or descent for that matter, and why?

I was taught hands together, extended over head going down and up. I sure this is for hyrodynamic efficiency. But doesn't it require a certain amount of muscle action to hold this position, thus creating tension and burning O2? And, is it really that more streamlined? Does it "hide" the bluntness of the head and shoulders, while creating turbulent water flow over the rest of the body?

Having never been a serious swimmer I have yet to feel "relaxed" in the hands-over posture.

I look forward to hearing what others have to say about this.
Great post, I am a very new freediver and I tried to extended my arms out in front of me while ascending. It feels like I run out of air immediatly.
I would like to hear some other peoples opinions, along with reasons and facts about it.
If this is the best way to descend/ascend, what is the best way to train myself for this?
Back to physics class

The most efficient form is the one that looks like a raindrop and not the long and slim form, so extended arms are hydrodynamically less effective than arms behind.

As for my own humble appearence, I prefer having the arms extended on descent (the left arm at my nose for equalisation) and having them behind for ascent and -surprise- dynamics (flutter kick). I do this mainly because it takes kind of an effort to keep the arms in front of oneself, especially in a wetsuit.

I think its up to everyone to decide which is more comfortable than worrying about hydrodynamics. There is no use in a perfectly streamlined position if one feels uncomfortable and therefore is unconcentrated.

Dive often, joe
There are mixed opinions regarding the proper way to ascend - I personally feel better ascending with my hands over my head. The key is to not be looking up while ascending - keep looking straight ahead - this has to do with additional pressure being put on the corotid (sp?) arteries in the neck which causes the urge to breathe to come on quicker that it would normally.

I think the reason why some divers prefer to ascend with their arms at their sides is that they feel less likely to look up since their arms aren't extended over their heads. This can easily be corrected by maintaining mental focus on good technique.

I personally feel that ascending with arms over the head allows for a safer ascent as well - specifically when reaching the surface - if there are any overhead obstructions (ie; a boat, etc) the arms are going to protect your head from hitting the obstruction on the surface.

I also feel that I can cut through the water column more efficiently as long as I maintain good form - which includes proper flutter kicking technique - no bicycle style kicking - which I see more freedivers use than I care to admit.

Bad form = wasted energy and more resistance in the water.

The only way to attain good form is to practice, practice, practice...

But each to his own...
Good thoughts tadpole, you will be a shark pretty soon.

I go up hands back and down hands forward, for me it has more to to with what to do with my sling or gun than anything else. I never considered hands extended for hydrodynamic reasons until getting into this website, but since then I've experimented in the pool, pushing off the wall and gliding both hands back and hands forward. Hands forward definately lets you glide farther. When swimming fast, the effect should be even greater. If you can get your head below your arms (my snorkel gets in the way) and realy narrow your shoulders, the glide is much longer. This is a competitive swimmers glide position. You are right, it does take energy. I'm not sure what the tradeoff is in terms of energy conservation while freediving.
I generally come up "hands down", unless I'm getting a little uncomfortable, in which case I extend my hands (not sure if I'm going faster, but it feels like I am so it makes me more comfortable).

I was watching a show recently where Unberto Pelizzari was ascending form a WR constant ballast dive (I forget the depth but the film was from a few years ago -- I'm thinking something in the high 70M range) and I noticed that he ascends "hands down", with the arms basically hanging limp at his sides.

Pezman where do you see the videos of pellizari

There's a show on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) called "High Five". The episode that they showed on Saturday, June 7 was about freediving. It had Pilizzari doing a constant ballast dive and Pipin donig Variable Ballast and No Limits attempts.

The film was from a few years back (Pipin had "big hair"). They also showed Pipin BO-ing and having a monster samba on the variable ballast attempt.

I was worth watching, but not life-altering.

OLN's schedule is available on line at http://www.olntv.com/
Going down hands first, going up head first.

since i don't really put much effort in going up from 20m (or mostly less), i usally just start ascending and then let the bouyency do the rest of the work and enjoy a slow ascent.
so hands up on ascent can only spoil for me.

maybe i'll review this later when i'll be diving deeper, or heavier.
I have my hands by my side all the time from for 2 months ago when I learned this technique and I think for freediving (and for me) it's the most effective way of swimming (I use a monofin).

It also has the advantage on descent that the equalizing gets easier. That is because the raised arms stretches the thorax and when you equalize at depths >35-40m many people gain enormously if the can "compress" the thorax and get more air to the mouth.

Also very very important for equalizing is NEVER LOOK DOWN DURING DESCENT because that stretches the thorax and makes it almost impossible to equalize. Many divers have experienced a "wall" at depth and often "the wall" occurs in the same time as the look down the line. Divers often looks down for a mark at their PB at the line and there it comes, the wall again....:head
I tend to extend my hands both on ascent and descent - at least with a monofin. With bi-fins I use both styles.

I feel more relaxed and comfortable with my arms by my sides, but I have better technique with my arms extended. Especially with a monofin it just feels impossible to maintain good swimming technique without extending my arms. I think it's because the extended arms help keep my upper body steady. When I hold my arms by my side my upper body moves up and down far too much when I dolphin-kick.

Derelictp, did you learn this technique by trial and error, or did someone teach you? Any tips? :)

Peter awsome tip, you say not to look down on descent that is something I will have to give a try for sure, thanks


Cheese: I learned the technique of a swedish finswimmingcoach. See the thread "Learning" on this forum , there is a description.

Ivan: Take a look at www.freediver.co.uk, Cyprus, Photos from 29/5, the 8th picture, Herbert descending ,you can see his almost looking back at the surface. This is in my opinion a very good body position for both relaxation and equalizing.
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Thanks Peter!

I'll try "The soldier" as soon as I can. I don't think it's going to be easy to learn, though...

I have just found out how to give karma so now you are the first one to get some from me :D

Peter definetly will try next time im out there. Cant wait.


I was out Scuba diving today and managed to get in 3 freedives as well. I tried tucking my head in and say that it does feel better, only problem is I cant really tell where Im going :duh , I dive without a line. BTW it was only 21m to the reef bottom.

Yes Andrew, sometimes it's nescessary to look down, one time I smashed my head to the bottom and that learned me a lesson. Fortunately there was sandy bottom.....:eek:

When you have a line and you know the deep it's no problem though. In the beginning (back in -99 when I started using this headposition) I felt somewhat disorientated using this position... but now I feel very comfortable:)
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Thanks for the posts.

I've recently done some experimenting in a pool and a recent dive and I do feel I am faster with my hands extended on descent and ascent. I also feel more confident that my hands will tell me what's below/above when I'm looking straight ahead.
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