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Why I Freedive

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
I thought I would let everyone know what I've been doing for the last 8 days. I am a student at college, but I am also a commercial diver when the work comes round, so I was up working at one of the ponds at the bad end of a pulp mill in Northern Alberta, Canada.
I've done a fair bit of work at this mill in the past, diving their intake pumphouse at the river, which is fun; it's all confined space and pipe-diving in blackwater, and all the other clarifying ponds, which are around 30 Celsius, with red "water" and zero visibility.
This pond was a new one for me. The pond is about 8 metres deep and 53 metres by 53 metres. The job for the 5 of us was to walk out underwater to the barge we had placed there, locate the 8" dredge head, and suck up pulp and wood chips. This in itself doesn't sound that bad, but add these factors : The liquid has the consistency of porridge, it's almost impossible to move. There is zero visibility. You are wearing a Heavy Duty Viking drysuit, a full face AGA mask with communication to the dive tender, a 45 lb belt on your waist, 8 lbs on each ankle, and 4 lbs on your head. You are pulling around an air hose, pneumo line, comm line, and life line that is all attached to the 5 point safety harness that you are strapped into. And the best part is, the liquid you are immersed in is 50 Celsius!
Add the fact that topside temperature is around -15 C, you work 12 hour days, and you get the picture!
Ok, I'm not really complaining; I love the work, it's just that it dawned on me the other day as I was wrestling the nozzle through the goo that this is pretty much the antithesis of freediving. It is definitely the opposite of gliding through the water like an Orca, unencumbered by technology and worries.
But now I can afford that dive trip to Mexico next month ;)
Cheers my friends,
Erik Young
Erik, that sounds pretty familiar. Not to pond work but the overall diving and reason for freediving. I work in the marine science field and dive w/ a wide variety of gear, from mask/fins, to tech gear for Trimix to surface supplied Superlite 17's. They all have their merits in their own right, I guess I just enjoy being under water doing stuff, doesn't really matter what. I used to work w/ the Aquarius underwater habitat in the Fla. Keys. I've saturated for up to 10 days at a strech. It's great to look out a 30" viewport and just watch the marine life go by, but I digress. All that said, There's nothing like jumping in the water w/ just your freediving gear (and speargun) and cruising around. You do feel so "free". My PB is only about 30m so I'm not in the class w/ most others here but I don't seem to be driven as much by depth as just the experience of getting out freediving. The alien enviroment we enter totally surrounds us and inturn seperates us from the world above. I won't say it is a religious experience but it is special. Between the physical workout, the mental relaxation, and possibly returning home w/ dinner makes it a great experience. Well thats why I do it. Take care everyone.
Thanks Jay. It sounds like you have done and do some pretty cool stuff. I agree about just being ubder water...it's good work. Speaking of water, I forgot to mention that the viscuous liquid I was in also had ammonia and "bugs" to help digest tha pulp.
The underwater habitat sounds like a great experience...what was your function there?
Erik Y.
Hi Erik,
Sounds like some pretty nasty stuff. I was a supervisor w/ the project and also went in during the science missions as a habitat tech to run the systems and help the scientist. I was involved w/ the project from the start so we did everything from installing the moorings to running air/commo lines out to our way stations 1000' from the habitat, to helping scientist set up and run their experiments. It was pretty cool but unfortunately like alot of things it got to be more of a job than anything. At the end of ten days you certainly know what fish in an aquarium feel like. At least the fish don't come up and tap on the glass. I'm w/ the same program now but in NC. I travel more and get to dive alot more sites. We spent 5 weeks this summer diving the USS Monitor in 230'. It's great to have the ocean as your jobsite (well most of the time). Take care.
A mere 30 meters?

Hey Jay,

I am wondering just what "class" the rest of the freedivers are at from your statement that,

My PB is only about 30m so I'm not in the class w/ most others here but I don't seem to be driven as much by depth as just the experience of getting out freediving.

Thirty meters seems to be pretty classy to me. My PB in recent years is about 35 meters, maybe 40 and that is my all time best constant ballast. That was last summer. Right now I am in such crappy shape that 20 meters is within reach but I have little hang time at that depth. Personally, I am impressed with anything beyond about 10 meters.

I agree with you when you say,
The alien enviroment we enter totally surrounds us and inturn seperates us from the world above. I won't say it is a religious experience but it is special.
For me the word is transcendental. Some depth is necessary but extreme depths are not and I would rather have more time to cruise than just up and down.
Hi Mark,
I was refering to the guys on the forum that are involved with some of the competetive end of freediving. There seem to be quite a few that are directly involved or associated in some way. They have depths and times that I'll probably never reach. W/ training I probably could but right now I lack the time and resources. Like you I just enjoy the experience U/W, 3m or 30m. I'm not putting these guys/girls on a pedastil and I'm definately not saying that it makes the rest of us any lower but they're just at a different level in diving. Take care.
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