Freediving Camp

By OceanFirst on 5/15/17

4 minutes. It’s a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things, but put yourself in a pool, holding your breath while you watch the seconds tick by, and that small amount of time suddenly seems mammoth.

Breathing and holding those precious breaths was a constant theme for the group of Ocean First Freedivers who spent the last week in the Caymans at Freediving Camp. Joined by a group of 30 other divers from across the country, we were all bonded by the desire to put our bodies to the limits and breaking our personal records.

The first night of camp all students were gathered for a meet and greet along with a breakdown of how the week would go. We also went through a neck weight making session where we turned old bicycle tubes filled full of lead buckshot into a tool that would perfect our streamlining and efficiency when getting down to depth.

The mornings were spent practicing yoga and meditation to help our bodies learn to relax and their breathing to be controlled, along with making sure all muscles are relaxed to avoid excessive O2 burn up and helping to prevent lung-squeeze at deep depths. After our namastes, we headed out to the boats to the open water, where the real training began.

Each student is given a skill matrix that assigns a set of skills to a corresponding skill level. For example, a level three freediver needs to perform a blackout rescue from a depth of 20 meters, a no-mask ascent from 20, and a minimum of a 30 meter dive. Each student has until the end of the week to tick off their intended set of skills to level up.  When training in the open water, we bring out a float that has a line with a weighted plate that sits at the depth we intend on training at. The line is used so we have a guide of how deep we are along with giving us a way to focus on perfecting our diving technique. When performing dives past 30 meters we actually tether our self to the line via a lanyard, which keeps us from straying away and allows safety divers to easily locate us in case of an emergency.

Kellon, our resident level 1 freedive instructor, was using his time at camp to try to become a level 2 instructor, which meant spending a lot of time diving down with his students. While most students were doing 7- 12  dives a day, Kellon was doing over 30-50 deep dives a day, most to over 66 feet.

Evenings were spent bonding as a group over homemade pasta meals, video reviews of our dive form, and visits from guests such as a world renowned instructor named Ted Harty. Ted is a specialist in teaching what all freedivers struggle with learning: equalization. In scuba, equalization is easy because of a constant air supply along with a slow descent rate of one foot per second. In freediving, we drop one meter (33ft) per second with only the air we were able to grab from the surface. Ted is one of the best in the game of teaching people how to manage their air and equalization. After dinner everyone crawled into their bed exhausted, and then they did it all over again the next day.

In the end, the freedivers left with massive senses of accomplishments, even when we fell shy of their ultimate goals. Here’s a breakdown of each of the Ocean First freediver’s records:

  • Kellon: Max Depth of 115ft. Static breath hold of 4:01. Reached freediving level 3.
  • Scott: Max depth of 103ft. Static breath hold of 2:52. Reached freediving level 2. Is now a level 1 pool instructor.
  • Jess: Max depth of 94ft. Static breath hold of 3:38. Reached freediving level 2. Is now a level 1 pool instructor.
  • Pat: Max depth of 135ft. Static breath hold of 4:02. Reached level 3. Is now a level 2 instructor candidate.
  • Krishna: Max depth of 135ft. Static breath hold of 4:26. Reached level 3. Is now a level 2 instructor candidate.

Interested in attending a freediving camp? Join us in Roatan this summer!

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