I have been going back in forth in my mind as to whether I want to compete again. So here I am free of work and an entire summer in front of me with plenty of time to mull over the question.
Meanwhile, I’m allowing myself to experiment with how I freedive. Will, Matt, Pete, Eric and Tom have all encouraged me to listen to my body and let it lead me in my training. My first decision: no targets, or certainly not the way I was doing them in the past. Setting times or distances that I HAD to reach by a specific date was very counter-productive for me. I found myself focusing on the outcome, as opposed to what my body was telling me and I became afraid of trying, because I didn’t want to fail to meet those numbers. So now it’s about being as present as possible during all of my dives and listening to what my body tells me.
The second thing I’ve given up on is packing or lung stretching of any kind. The jury is still out as to any possible long terms effects and I just don’t want to chance it. Also, there seems to be something manufactured about stretching your lungs to make a dive. Lung stretching or packing isn’t quite tantamount to bringing down a tank of air, but it does feel unnatural to me. You’re fighting the water by trying to over-build your lungs, diving deeper but ensconcing your position as a foreigner. I believe, though I’m still unsure entirely how to go about it, that it’s better to really feel the water pressure and go where your body, in its natural state, lets you go. Eventually, you will adapt. Eric and Pete have been doing some amazing work with exhale dives – they’re truly diving like seals and sea lions. That’s not to say that I will be exhale diving, I’m not quite there. I am still taking breaths to dive, but I’m taking relaxed, easy breaths and not filling my lungs to their fullest capacity.So to simulate the feeling of pressure and lung volume at depth, and after asking Eric and Pete lots of questions, I attempted my first exhale dry statics. Matt and I tried a brief hold in the pool last month and immediately I could tell it was very different than a full inhale static. Doing them on my bed last week I made it to 1:30 on a full exhale. Not an impressive number no matter how you look at it, but a number to start with nonetheless. It was a very interesting experience. Within 45 seconds of my very first breathhold, my dive reflex kicked in. I literally felt the blood rushing from my hands and feet and felt my head and chest heat up. This usually doesn’t happen until the end of my first warm-up breathhold, or maybe my second and it’s never been this strong. My first contractions started much earlier, between 1:00 and 1:15, but they felt different as well. None of the weird chest contractions preceded them. Just slow, belly contractions, and they are the ones I find quite tolerable and even pleasant at times. I am still trying to figure out the fear/panic that comes with contractions and I don’t want to push it, but I am looking forward to trying again. Another bonus of exhale statics during training, as Will first pointed out to me, is it takes a hell of a lot less time to get through a table.
This is a video Will took in January of me doing dynamic technique training. I’m trying to initiate the movement from my head and chest and not my legs. As you can see from the video, I’ve got a long way to go. My PB before