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Freediving Competition in Roatan, Honduras Pt. 2

Getting serious and sinking deeper

A few weeks before the competition the training sessions started to look different. While before we were training with the lines attached to regular freediving buoys and providing safety for each other we now had a floating platform to dive from and a team of trained safety divers to take care of everybody and provide the safety logistics.

With the setup, also the way we planned training sessions changed as the competition got closer. Instead of doing a high volume of training dives to fairly easy depths, I switched now to doing less dives but more intense ones to deeper depths. During this time I stopped doing any other trainings or workouts than freediving in the morning and managed to give myself the rest I needed to be ready and full of energy for the competition.

Every day in the afternoon everybody would ask for a specific depth to have the main diving line set to for the next days training session and would do only one single deep dive. The dives are scheduled in the order of depth, from deep to shallow so that every diver will have a specific time assigned when it will be their turn. Some divers prefer to do several warm-up dives to shallower depths before, some would not do any warm-up. For myself, I found that one warm-up dive to a depth between 20 and 25m after a passive exhale made me feel best and ready for a deep dive. More difficult was to figure out the timing for it, to not be too early and get cold in the water but also to be ready in time.

When it was my time to dive, I would move to the official line, clip in my lanyard and start my relaxation and breathing routine while listening to the countdown of the safety team. As soon as the countdown reaches zero I have 30 seconds to begin my dive. I descend to my target depth where I find a bottom plate at the end of the line with little Velcro tegs attached. I take one and bring it back to the surface. On the surface I have 15 seconds to perform a surface protocol that consists of taking off fascial equipment, giving an ok-signal and saying “I´m OK” to prove everything is alright.

These procedures will be the same in the competition and it is important to practice them in training to make everything smooth in competition. Especially having a countdown to start my one and only dive of the day was making me very nervous in the beginning. In a curious way it though also helped me to sharpen my focus and be very concentrated on the dive I was about to do.

During this time I managed to break a few personal records while all dives felt beautiful and very relaxed. I was very happy to hit the 70m mark just before the competition and got a lot of confidence and energy out of this final phase of training. The focus and relaxation made everything go very smoothly during those training dives, even my deep equalisation was improving. Also the atmosphere around the diving platform was a very special one with everybody supporting each other and feeling the nerves and joy together.

Shortly before the competition I was also very lucky to be able to add another discipline to my training. Sheena Mc Nally, an athlete and friend from Canada gave a pair or carbon freediving bi-fins to me that opened the world of a whole new discipline for me that I was never focusing on before, mostly for a lack of good equipment. Thank you so much, Sheena!

My three most important lessons learned from this phase of training were

·        Relaxation and focus are key.

Without changing my technique or strategy my dives felt so much more pleasant and easy when I learned how to put my focus completely in the moment of my dive and fully relax my body. The numbers then came automatically.

·        Competition nerves are real.

Having a specific time slot to perform can put some pressure. For me, developing a ritual and getting the right timing for getting ready, doing my warm-up and preparing for the dive helped me to control the nerves.

·        It´s the people that make the experience.

After weeks of training together we really were a group of friends diving together now which creates an amazing atmosphere of support, good vibes and positive energies and really made those training sessions so much fun. 

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