I decided to take my snorkeling to the next level (oh damn you, pun!) so I signed up for a freediving course with Performance Freediving International. It was something I've wanted to do for some time now and was gifted the course by my husband for our anniversary.
Previously, my idea of freediving was this:
What's wrong with this picture? Freediving with a snorkel in my mouth, and exhaling while down. I was also limited by my inability to equalize my ears with any efficiency. If you're doing it like most people who clear their ears on a scuba dive (or on an airplane) by pushing air from your diaphragm, you're wasting precious stores of oxygen when you likely have enough sitting in your mouth to equalize via Frenzel Technique. That technique can be seen here.
And yes, I'm also freediving alone... but I will probably continue to do that as long as I live.
We had a ton of classroom work where we learned the physics of freediving and all about theory and technique - especially safety procedures and rescues. Then we had a pool session to time our static apnea breath holds.
Mine was 2:36 as I struggled with abdominal contractions (aka, the "lying bastard" that is your body trying to scare you into breathing) and visions of blacking out... and other irrational thoughts. My theory is that if you have children, part of your brain goes a little crazy and certain risks may be forever "off the table" for you. For me, big risks now off limits include speeding in cars, heights, and apparently holding my breath too long underwater. Weird since I enjoy being in the water so much. But it may just take more time to stretch out that static apnea time.
There was a dude in class who broke 5:30. His lips were blue when he came up... but in keeping with our training, he was just fine after taking his recovery breaths (he had been signalling "okay" with regularity throughout his apnea session.)
Next we hit the ocean for some depth training. My first session, I was hit by the thermocline and felt some anxiety. After some reflection and simply enjoying the ocean, however, I had a renewed enthusiasm for the spirit of the sport.
At one point our rig collided with a mass of kelp. In moving it off, we discovered a cast of tuna crabs inside! It definitely inspired me to continue on my journey to earn my freediving certification.
Here are my amazing instructors. They were shadowing each of our dives to ensure safety. It was marvelous to watch!
with PFI Instructors Shell Eisenberg and Chris Bustad.
Shell is the national dynamic/no fins record holder, having reached 125 meters on one breath.
with PFI Instructor Andrew Miramontes
Check out video from my experience here:
I would also encourage anyone who loves to dive - even snorkel or scuba - to check out this kind of freediving course. You'll stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, and in doing so, gain invaluable safety information.
And you'll make some great new friends, too.