The sport of Freediving comprises four main disciplines.
1. Static Apnea: How long you can hold your breath, in water.
2. Constant Weight Freedive: How deep you can swim in one breath. This category is sub divided into two varieties. a) with fins . b) without fins.
3. Dynamic Apnea: How far you can swim in one breath. Also sub divided with fins and without fins.
Freediving is an emerging sport which is rapidly establishing itself. Some say it is an extreme sport, others suggest it is a meditative sport. What is certain, adrenaline has no place in it and in order to compete well, it is important to ignore the nerves which would normally impart an advantage in other sports.
Constant weight Freediving is by the most rewarding. Employing all three disciplines in the one arena where any errors could result in severe even life threatening situations. In recognising the absolute need to stay calm, having dived to 200 feet, having reached a chosen depth, it is a long way back to the surface . The need to breathe has become important and on the swim back to the surface, becomes more and more urgent. Having patience and relying gently on your own ability, you keep swimming upwards with a tested faith, knowing your air will last.
It seems to me, to be the discipline which all free-divers love, but which none seek to push their absolute limit. In as much that pre competition advice suggests you dive a depth some meters shallower than you personal best, to be on the safe side. I disagree with such thoughts. It seems to me, that if you have dived say 50 meters on a number of training dives with your buddies, there is no need to be concerned that in a competition dive you will not be able to duplicate the depth. Indeed, on a competition dive, you will have trained in the preceding weeks , your mind will be attuned to the effort and most importantly, your pre dive preparations will be focused.
It is important to remember, the depth you dive is limited to that which you declared the night before. ( In a competition, you are required to state your intended dive depth before the competition commences). I believe it is particularly un-competitive to restrict your depth. Far better in my view to declare your intended depth ten meters deeper than you have ever dived before.
By so doing, you allow yourself the room to have the very best dive of your life.You know your preparations have been the best ever, your mental awareness more acute, your state of peace more gentle. You commence with the cleanest duck dive you have ever achieved, your early equalisation's all automatic and sweet. You reach a depth where positive buoyancy disappears, you start to sink. You relax into the dive and as you sink, time stands still, you equalise with ease and some time later equalise again, you are still sinking. You are having the best dive of your life. (otherwise you would have turned by now)
Your competitors have already dived, some got this far and had the worst dive of their lives. They declared their previous best depth. They knew it was near their limit, they were aware of the struggle, worried about the return trip, their duck dive was scruffy, they rush the equalisation's, adrenaline kicks in as the water darkens and depths beckon. They look ahead searching for the bottom plate, and again they continue to seek it, its not too far now, they have done it before, it tempts them, they go for it. But they were not having their best dive ever. They grab the tag with that unsettling feeling they should have turned a few meters ago, but the tag tempted them. The swim back hurts, equivalent to two lengths underwater but all uphill, they panic. Contractions are urgent, they worry, no longer certain, they need to breathe, it gets fuzzy, they see the safety divers, they are looking into their eyes. They know. Their eyes are screaming and the divers can tell.
Your competitor reaches the surface, they breathe, the divers are poised waiting the three of fours seconds it takes for the precious oxygen to revive your clarity. But its too late, brain switched off. It takes a couple seconds to become unconscious. As the oxygen continues it's course, they flinch a couple of times halfway to black out and half way to waking up. Your competitor wakes up. Removes his goggles with an uncoordinated grasp, flicks an OK sign to the judges and is surprised the verbal "I am OK" sounds strange. With the oxygen comes a knowledge of the truth, he made the depth but it was the worst dive ever. The judges look him in the eyes, everyone looks intently, your competitor turns away. You know its red cards long before the judges display them. Disqualified.
But you are having your best dive ever. You reach a depth equal to the depth you would otherwise have declared. You are unaware , but you feel it. A few moments later you have never dived so far. The bottom plate is set ten meters deeper..........(and this is the secret), you know it is too deep and you never had any intention of going for it. You are simply listening to your body and will turn when it says so. You drop a meter or two more, then another, then one more. You will not reach the bottom plate (you will lose a few points, but they don't matter). You decide to turn , first you extend your arm to full reach, that's another meter on your gauge. You calmly try another equalisation ( just to see). You know you have gone deep and now the training starts to count. You rely on yourself, you feel the contractions as you need to breathe but your training keeps you in a place of peace. It's never the dive that counts, it's the return journey that takes you places. You are aware. The dark begins to turn blue. You pass the depth where buoyancy begins to return, a few more kicks and you see your safety divers swim in to escort you the last 15 meters. They look into your eyes. They know. You stay calm, despite your need to breathe. You concentrate on planning your next breath, only a few more kicks, you focus on the line, you prepare. Then you are up, you hold the line, you breathe, and breathe and breathe. The oxygen penetrates your soul, clears your mind, you are ok. You smile, no one sees. You allowed yourself the room to go deep without allowing the bottom plate to control you. You took control and dived meters deeper than ever before, but it was never about the meters. It was about having the best dive of your life.
We lay at the waters edge where the sun shines softly through the trees. The cooling breeze carresses gently on my face. My eyes close and I breathe. My body listens and my heart floats. I am filled with peace and my spirit is free.
I hear the sea. It ripples on the shore to my left, then to my right. An orchestra plays at my feet and the pebbles sing a melody of thanks to the sea as she passes softly over their faces, giving them a voice for their song.
Evety stone sings its own tune and I can hear every voice. I listen more closely, as the water continues to play. Now ten thousands are in chorus and solos tinkle in harmony at my feet. And time stands still as, one by one, the pebbles having thanked the sea, now thank me for listening this time. In an instant, clarity fills my soul, my understanding is complete, my joy is full.
And so with heartfelt fondness, I give my reply of thanks to the sea. For the times we have spent in each others embrace. I thank my companions, for the great enthusiasms of adventures shared, of journeys commenced. The salt, the deep, the beathless smile.
And the water will be colder today because some are gone away. Yet my heart is warm for the sharing, my soul content and I swim.
I thank my Father in Heaven too and notice ten thousands other voices also find thanks to give. He hears the orchestra at his feet. He hears the melody of my thanks. He listens more closely, he hears my solo voice. He listens more closely and His heart floats.
My body is filling with peace and one day I will build a portion of heaven on earth. My body is filling with peace and one day I will build an earth. My body is filling with peace and one day I will build a heaven. And when my peace is full, my children will dwell on my earth and I will be their father and my wife will be their mother and they will learn to swim.