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Why aren't my pool Statics longer than dry?

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Kiwi GEE

New Member
Dec 23, 2004
Why are my dry static breath-holds longer
than my wet statics? I would say I put around the same ammount
of effort on both.

Because the diving reflex causes the heart to slow and after
around 45 mins of doing statics I have felt blood shift, bascially my arms feeling numb, and not feeling my legs as well.
With the above responses why aren't I getting an advantage as the theory suguests? :confused:

I am very new to the sport, but I would of expected water statics be
longer than dry.
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Are you wearing a wetsuit? If you get too cold, that will likely cut your times a bit.

I had the same problem for a long time. Actually, I have it even now, but not as bad: the difference is only some 20 seconds, where it used to be over a minute. For me the most crucial factor was fear. For some reason, I would just not be quite as comfortable in the water, it just felt "wrong" somehow. Especially towards the end of the static, I would be unable to push quite as far as in dry due to a nagging feeling that what happens if I black out. I know it's irrational, since there's allways a buddy ready to pull me up, but laying in bed at home, it just doesn't make a big difference. I've never blacked out on dry static, but I'm not afraid to. Maybe there's also the factor of being embarassed of blacking out and scaring the safety diver, which also contributes to wanting to leave a nice safety margin. I don't think that's all necessarily bad though, but it would be nice to be able to push as far as you know it's safe. This simply get's better with training. Do wet statics and do a lot of them.

Another thing was that when I did dry statics, my nose would be free. In the water, when it's blocked it would feel unconfortable and increase the urge to breathe. Especially when I swallow, since that will block you ears if you wear a clip and feels quite uncomfortable if you're not used to it. This was easy enough to fix: I started doing dry statics with a nose clip. After just a few weeks I got rid of that problem. And also for this, doing lot's of wet statics helps.

This doesn't apply to all of course, but for me the reasons were psychological rather than physiological. I think it's even a bit controversial how much water contributes to the dive response. I think the latest research points to it being more of an apnea response in general, dry or wet.

All in all, it seems that people make the best times in the type of statics they train most. I know a lot of people, who basically hate dry statics and can't really perform at all that way (6 minute people hitting 3-4 minutes dry). Therefore they train only wet and never really develop the "feeling" for dry. I first started seriously training for static last summer and since it was open water season, I would not do any wet statics at all. So when I first hit the pool in late august, having made huge leaps in dry and expecting to do even better times with the dive reflex and all, I was dissapointed to see that I could not reach even close to my dry times. But in a matter of months of doing 1-2 wet statics per week, I've now caught up and actually enjoy wet statics more than dry...
Hi jome,

Yes I wear a full wetsuit, as I get cold fairly fast.

I hardly do any training for statics, due to the safety reason of
not having a buddy, nor a club in my city.
I have to do my training for statics and constant in another city.
Do my dynamic work mainly with my underwater hockey club here
in Christchurch.
Thought i'd give dry statics a shot, using my new paradisia noseclip.
Just not really much difference in times from wet to dry, only around 30

Maybe a psychological thing too as you said , little bit of
fear during the last part, As I'm not sure about the contraction part.
Not really sure what is happening then.

You mentioned it's a bit controversial how much water contributes to
the dive response. Which got me thinking, maybe a wet towel on your face
may be enough to tigger the dive response doing dry statics.

And for my first competition, I didn't count on my heart rate going
through the roof once the count down started to official start.
I never felt that before, always relaxed low heart rates for practise and
warmup before the start time.That only happened once , and it was just
tough luck, not like you can say, give me another 2 minutes to relax
before I start.
Hehe, the old competition nerves. I guess everybody gets that and it only gets easier with experience. I've only attended 3 competitions, so I wouldn't know. But usually it's a good idea to announce a realistic time rather than trying to beat your pb in competition.

For me at least competition does bring one advantage: I'm sure to make a 100% effort then. Like the last static I did in a competition. The start and warmup completely failed, but I could still squeeze almost the time I thought I would. It was just a lot tougher and extended in the last phase. But that's just another reason to try no-warmup statics.

Now I was hoping I'd never have to mention this, but I actually have tried dry statics wearing a mask filled with water. It wasn't a very pleasant experience and I didn't feel a significant contribution to the dive reflex, so I left it at that...Plus it just got me worried about black out and whether or not the laryngospasm will let go if my body thinks it's immersed in water.

I don't recommend it to anyone, but I think dry statics are reasonably safe to do alone. But in wet, it's best not to do even the most conservative statics. I know people have blacked out on pretty conservative ones due to a cold or other illness for example. And we all know what happens if you're alone at that phase...
Kiwi -- I initially found the same thing to be true for my statics...drys were better than wets. But I eventually discovered a much greater ability when doing wet versus dry. I think there were many reasons for this, but perhaps the most significant was the shift to supervision: I went from doing my early wet statics by myself (no buddy to serve as safety) to doing them with a coach. (Duh!)

Sounds like you may be doing your wets alone; if so, I'll bet that's a key factor in limiting your performance while wet ...you're probably unconsciously afraid to really push yourself and see what you can do, not knowing where you are timewise (no taps or voice encouragements), and always afraid you could BO or samba. Which is a very concern! ;-)

Additionally, I found that it took some time doing wet statics before I really got the conditioning going.... began to see the adaptation (full dive reflex) kicking in. My view is that all people are wired or created with the "feature" to do this stuff (mammalian dive reflex)...it just takes concentrated conditioning to train the body as to *when* to flip the switch and turn that "feature" ON. It makes total sense (to me) that once anyone gets that going they should be able to do significantly longer wet statics than dry. And that's also because...

In addition to the reflex elements that kick in (lower heart rate, blood shift to the core, a shift in blood PH allowing easier O2 release from hemoglobin, etc), it's also possible to achieve a much more relaxed position just floating in the water (held stationary by light touch of coach's hand on your back) versus almost any position on land, where we're fighting gravity and must use some muscles to hold ourselves in position, or even fully relax (true whether sitting on the floor, or even lying down). And that translates into a difference in O2 consumption.

For me, it also seems much easier to "drift" mentally, thinking about nothing at all, when I'm doing wet statics....whereas in dry statics it's a little bit harder for me to just "drift off" into never-never land. And when I'm not drifting but thinking about specific things (or looking at things, like the stop watch), I think my body must be using more oxygen.

When doing wet statics, I relax and keep my eyes closed all the time until the last minute. Then, I slowly open my eyes, begin watching for for signs of peripheral vision deterioration, reach out and secure the lip of the pool edge, begin bringing my feet under me, and plant a stance, still keeping my entire body low in the water and face and shoulders in ~ same position. That's the home stretch...before I finish. Hopefully clean :)

You commented that you weren't sure about contractions....not sure what you meant by that, but I've found that the more conditioned I am, the farther I can go into the static time before the onset of contractions. I also see this right-shift of contractions when I do a series of pre-performance warm-up statics (wet or dry), as that conditions my body to "prepare to adapt" for an apnea dive. Then, once the contractions begin, I just need to respond as slowly and gently in my response of "pushing them down". I have no idea where you are in terms of actual times, or the number of contractions you're currently handling, but a big part of breaking through to much longer statics is learning how to deal with contractions....both physiologically and mentally. Once I realized that the first contraction wasn't really a danger signal, just a natural urge to breathe (and that I really had a lot more O2 still available ro operate on), I was able to think about the contractions more clinically....in a sort of abstract way....and then become aware of their spacing, and how the frequency was increasing. I am now to the point were I'm handling 40+ contractions a minute before I end a wet static session (at more than 5 minutes). I can't get anywhere close to that with dry statics, and I think that's due to my wets being done (a) with body in contact with the water, (b) with total floating/relaxed position, (c) nothing to think about, (d) a coach to keep me aware of time marks and encourage me as I hit key milestones, etc.

Lastly, if you really want to ramp up your performance (statics, or any other discipline), I highly recommend you consider attending one of the professional freediving courses, where it seems almost every attendee walks out with significant gains in their PB's (in static, dynamic,and CW dives). I attended Kirk Krack's Advanced Performance Freediving clinic last year...and with Kirk and Martin Stepanek as my trainers and coaches, I saw incredible improvements in my performances -- far beyond what I imagined I might achieve. So, check them out... www.performancefreediving.com

Hope this helps.
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Hi, thanks for the comments so far.

My first competition (only one so far) was a huge learning curve,
I was more worried about making a mistake and messing it up for my warmup
partner,rather than what I had to do.Like getting them to the start zone in time.
I did announce a time 2 seconds from my PB, reason was like you, too give a
100% effort.But knowning you get a penalty keep me going, because I really
wanted a clean sheet so to speak.

I'll have too work on a dry static training program, my goal is
too increase the "still ok" stage of the static. like have 3:00 feel like I did at 2:00.
Hi Jim,
I don't do any statics alone. More so, as I have had a LMC once,
I felt as if I ended the static normally and removed my mask,
far from it as I was told.But I can't remember the last 10 seconds before that.

Knowning my time can have more a negetive effort, especially if I'm told at
1:00, and it feels a little hard. In my mind I say it's too hard to keep going,
if it feels like this , far too early.

I just thought that with the dive reflex been an automatic thing I'd get longer
wet times as standard.
About Contractions, I'm not sure really what's happening, maybe 2-3 I think,
I can't really describe what happens as my mind races for the last 15+ seconds.
slowish long underwater hiccups with a panic-ish feeling probably best way I can describe it.
My PB is 3:04 and with average of 2:20-2:30. My experiance is only a few weeks.

Thank's for the advice.
Dear Kiwi,

Your wet statics should become longer than the dry ones. You're just not used to them yet.

Learn to let go your body while you relax on your bed. Then apply that in the water, it's easier there :)

If your arms are numb and you can't feel your legs then you are probably hypocapnic. This means that you are breathing "too hard". You are exhaling more CO2 than you body produces. And that is not an optimum state to do statics in.

Happy relaxing ;)
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