F R E E D I V I N G – Day 3
All is well that ends well. All is well that ends in smiles. But I did not know that when Day 3 came around.
I really just had two choices. Either to give into my fear, start crying and paddle back to the shore, or I could toughen up and go through the very thing I wanted least in world (at that moment). There is always a choice…
The night before the last day we did our homework in the form of a carbon dioxide table. You take an amount of time which is close to the limit of your breath-hold, but not your max. Then you hold your breath, while the recovery time between each breath-hold gets shorter. This builds up your resistance to the carbon dioxide build-up in the body, which essentially is responsible for your urge to breathe.
After the exercise my breath hold was 1.12 minutes, while Arno’s was 4.37 minutes! Still not really close, but considering that during the first day I clocked 20 seconds, this was a huge improvement already!! What a motivation boost!
On the third and final training day our wonderful instructor split our small group of two in half. As we were clearly on such different levels, it made more sense to train individually, so we could really focus on what was important for each of us. So I got to do some yoga, meditation and visualization exercises while Arno completed his training.
I enjoyed myself. The morning was nice and cool, I had a yoga mat and a full hour to myself. I did some Yin yoga, meditated and visualized going down on the rope.
Did this help? Not really.
While yoga, meditation and visualization go great together with freediving, on this particular morning they did not save me from what was to come. Our instructor had moved the buoy closer to shore after Arno’s successful 21m freedives,. We saw some fishes, some coral, but mostly the blue. And the round metal plate, mocking me from the distance of 5 meters.
I wanted to cry. I almost did. I felt so panicked, so overwhelmed and out of my element. I thought about quitting, just admitting to myself that at least today I was not going to become a freediver. As I contemplated my next move, I tried to relax face down and get familiar with the blue again.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, not in diving, not in yoga, and also not in freediving. What works for one, will not work for the other. What gives issues and mental blocks to one, is completely different to the other. God bless an instructor that has understanding, patience and solutions for each individual, even a chicken like me.
For the life of me I could not imagine diving head first into the blue again. It was just not going to happen. So I went to 1.5 meters, fins first, and just sat there for a while. Then we raised the plate to 3 meters, and I gathered courage to dive head first.
And it was not so bad. I did this few times, and felt confident to progress to 4 meters. And then 5. And slowly I reached 7 meters, which remains the deepest point for me to date. But it did not matter. What mattered was that I actually felt comfortable, controlled and started to enjoy myself!! What an amazing feeling!
Finally I got to the point where flipping myself upside down felt ok. I could trust that I could hold my breath for the needed +30 secs, and that I could equalize properly. I took my time, and started to see it all differently again.
I learned that it makes absolutely no difference how deep you go. What matters most is what you learn on the way down. It makes no sense to try to cram everything into a 2-3 day course, if this is not your natural pace for learning freediving. If you are a half-fish and can hold your breath for more than 3 minutes, like Arno, then sure, go ahead and dive to 20 meters on your second day.
But I was beyond thrilled with my 7 meters, because it came with a huge victory! I faced my fears, I did not give up, and finally ended up feeling confident and comfortable under water with nothing but one breath.
That’s what it’s all about. The rest will come.
Big THANKS goes to Diggi Asch, our wonderful instructor from Kurma Freedive Camiguin! Thanks for not giving up on me, and thanks for being so patient and encouragingt! 🙂 Freediving IS fun!