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Would anyone care to share their experiences with SWB?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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The land of ice and snow
Sep 5, 2001
I'm real curious now as I start to push the envelopes (maybe just paying the bills) when shallow water black out or just plain black out has occurred.... mainly, when or if it has occurred when it was least or not expected, ie., a deep dive that felt really good, a shallow dive, or a dive of short duration, or a breath hold that was no where near you bp. I realize some people can black out just from getting up from a chair but that's not what I'm talking about. Any personal experiences that anyone would share with me? The black out's I read about are all when really pushing the depths or times, there must be others....if you don't care to post please e-mail me.

added: Found one article of what I was looking for at http://www.skin-diver.com/departments/ILearned/FreediverExperiences.asp?theID=314
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After doing everything wrong for 50 years, off and on, I'd like to make a few comments.
Everyone 'does' SWB differently.
When it happens to you, memory and time stop. You don't know you blacked out and you will deny it even when presented with irrefutable evidence.
It usually takes a lot of training to black out on the surface.
It gets easier as you go deeper. Even 2 meters.
Below 15 meters, a clock (external or schedule) is a must, feelings don't count. Too many variables.
Long ago in my favorite kelp bed. It was calm and warm and I had been diving for hours, felt great, relaxed. As I kicked for the surface at 1:20 (my max bottom time), something caught my eye. I froze and drifted down to 50 feet. Turned out to be nothing and the watch was now over 2:00. With the old rubber fins and twice the weight that I use now it was a lot of kicking to even get turned around. I knew that I was pushing so I released my weight belt and carried it, old trick. No sweat.
Then I swam over to the next kelp stalk, hypered (warned you that I did everything wrong) and piked over for the next dive. After a few seconds of flailing it dawned on me that my fins were still in the air and I was short about 20# of lead.
The only reason that I get to tell the story is the rigid procedure that I followed up to 100 times a week back then. Hit the surface, clear the snorkel and inhale to the max. I have no idea if my 'nap' was a few seconds or several minutes. I do know of one other diver that did almost the same stunt during a meet and they had to 'wake' him up.

Is that more than you wanted?

Thanks Bill

Blacked out with the snorkel in your mouth... that was a close one, glad you're here to tell me about it.
Bill's correct, Fred in that a SWB for you, me or Bill is different than that for any other individual. Some require quite a bit of exertion prior to blacking out, and some just seem to "max out" with repetitive dives of no great depth or effort.

One that I can remember, (and that's a scary thought), occured on a day when everything was just going really nice. I mean really nice- the sun was out, the water was warm and clear and my game was on. The fish and lobster were already taking over the decks on the boat and I was still wearing my suit when the boat's owner and my friend asked me to go and unfoul the bow anchor. "No prob", I said, as I'd just gotten back from rooting around the rocks beneath the boat, some 90 feet down. I don't know what the hell I was thinking, as 90 feet was then and still is a haul. But like I said, the sun was out...

So I breathe up and head down and this is where I knew something was different. I went down almost without effort- just looked at the bottom and the next thing I knew, there I was, watching the anchor being raised and standing there just digging on the views. Happier than a pig in shit. Then I dug the views some more. And more.

I remember thinking, "Jeez, I've been down here a while!" I also remember hearing a little "Hey pal..." in the back of my head.

The next thing I do remember is floating face up on the surface, with the noise of my inhalations waking me up. Scary stuff.

When I look back at that dive, and it's a dive that I remember very well, as the bottom time and everything was just nuts, in that it was easy and without planning, thought or effort and in ideal conditions. I don't believe that I was over-extended from previous dives, was in good shape, (hell, I wish I was in that shape now!) and was sober, fed and rested.

Suffice it to say that these days the little voice has veto powers and has served me pretty well at least in regards to my being at depth. It's still really bugs me though when it comes to ex mothers-in-law.



Something common in SWB is a feeling that tha thinks are different. I´ve blacked-out twice. The first when I was 14 years old doing dynamic apnea and the last when I was 27 years old. The last one was in a caribbean reef in the island I grew up. My brother and I was doing some recreative freediving. My brother had get 35 meters in must of his dives and I hardly can get 30 meters. After 2 hours we decide to return to the shore, and I said: "one more try", I dove to 30 meters and felt dizy at depht, I started the way up, with my mind telling me: "you can´t make it".
But I continue the way up until I saw my brother fins. I thougth :"I did it". Later I now that I get unconsciouos at 2 meters from the surface with contractions of all my body. My brother pick me up, gave me mouth to mouth and I got back. After that I only do what I feel in shape to do. And always dive with a buddy.


Frank Pernett
I only remember feeling dizzy when on the surface...I didn't even go deep..well to about -24m and didn't stay for long...
I have never blacked out while diveing, but it sure souds scary and I am not sure if I am able to do the RIGHT thing when it happens...I mean rescue procedures.. is mouth to mouth right thing to do??
Most of my deep diveing has been with my brother fortunately either of us has blacked out...
I would gladly get to know more about what you have done when your buddy has blacked out or what your buddy did to you..
thanks and safe diving!
I will wait and see if Kirk sees this thread...he is an expert on rescue procedures particular to freediving.....if he doesn't show up then I will offer some thoughts
Erik Y.

I wrote that my brother gave mouth to mouth ventilation, but that was long time ago, He did it because he didn't know what to do. The mouth to mouth respiration is for respiratory arrest. Most of the black-out's, only need to keep the buddy with his respiratory tract out of the water and take off the mask. Once a buddy with a deep water black-out (15 meters) didn't resume ventilation by his self and mouth to mouth ventilation was necessary (and hospital care too).
The rescue procedures are another issue and can be discussed in other thread.


Frank Pernett
thanks Stephan, I checked the article..and thanks Cliff it was good...
post blackout symptoms

the posts are very interesting, Ive got another question, after suffering blackout, is there any physical disconfort like headache or something like that, if yes, which medicine should you try for it???

My experiences have been painless....I woke up happy and smiling. After any blackout, take some O2 for 5 minutes, and stay out of the water for a day. If you're really concerned after that, then go to a doctor I suppose.
Erik Y.
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