Week 13 – Where we finally get wet


Well, we have been a bit late to do last week’s update, since we just came back home, but here it is. We spent 5 days in Jamaica, 4 of which were diving days, for our first dive training since we started the record preparations and Yasemin’s first diving in over 4 years! We visited our friend and old trainee of mine David Lee, 5-time world record holder, all of them in the most difficult freediving category, unassisted constant ballast. David lives near the famous Blue Lagoon, a sinkhole that offers easy access to a 51 meter depth in very calm water only 100 meters from shore, which made it a logical choice for us to set up as a training base which has been used for many of our records. So there we were, in the location of many training sessions, deep diving for the first time since 2005, our hearts full of memories and our minds full of questions…

Now, 50 meters is by our standards a shallow depth, and when you’re training for a record over 100 meters, you might wonder what’s the use of only diving to 50 meters. But this location is so convenient that it can be accessed any time of the year, without a boat and with minimal safety crew, so we’ve learned to use it to the best by adding difficulty and complications to the dives to make them produce the effort level of much deeper dives, so I can actually get a pretty accurate idea of where Yasemin is in relation to our goals. What did I expect to get from her? Well, before getting there, she had spent almost 2 weeks on antibiotics combined with very little training, she was also under very high stress levels due to our negotiations with sponsors, and her ears have not been under pressure for years now, so equalization might also be an issue even at 50 meters. So I expected her to have a somewhat hard time the first 2 days of diving, and then begin to get better by the last 2 days. That would have been a logical outcome, and actually a good one at that. But in reality, Yas rocked the dives, she blew the windows out of the room, she did so well that we were both not only happy but very surprised.

Every day started with our typical routine, 5 minutes of facial immersion, followed by 5 minutes of deep NPSA (negative pressure static apnea) where Yas takes quick breaths followed by full exhalations and then spends as much time as possible underwater (shallow, no more than 1.5 meters deep) holding her breath for around 40 seconds or so, and this sequence repeats for the full 5 minutes, where she spends about 20 seconds breathing and 4:40 minutes exhaling/holding her breath. It’s a great way to “wake up” the diving mode in the body. Then she did 2 NP (negative pressure) dives, where after breathing for 6-7 minutes, she exhales all her air on her last breath and dives to 20 meters and stays there for 45-60 seconds (agonizing seconds actually) and then returns to the surface very slowly. These dives are one of the trademarks of my training system, routinely done by many divers now, but my team was the first one to use them and still the team that uses them to their fullest benefit. They are very, very hard, potentially dangerous, but when performed properly, they really trigger the Mammalian Diving Reflex, help the ears become very flexible and the diver completely ready for a deep dive. After that, Yasemin did 3 dives to the 51 meter bottom, and the day was done. She could have done a lot more of those dives, but several freedivers have suffered cases of DCS (decompression sickness) with repeated dives to 40-50 meters, so I put a top at 3 dives to that depth, and afterwards, she actually performs a decompression schedule with a tank to reduce the risk of nitrogen bubbles further. We did several combinations of dives: straight down and up with monofin, down with fin and up with hand pulls, up with hand pulls and fin combination, down with sled and up with all of the above combinations, and then spending time at the bottom to increase dive time and difficulty. We also used several weight set ups on her weightbelt: very heay, to make the descent easy and the ascent difficult, light, to make the descent difficult and the ascent easy. All in all, the 12 dives to 51 meters gave us a very good indication of where we are and what we need to work on. So now we’re set for some deeper training in about 3-4 weeks in Turkey, and there we will dive to much deeper depths already. So, between now and then, we will work hard on all the points where we need improvement. We will keep you all up to date with the progress, but so far, despite all the obstacles and set backs, we are basically where we need to be. And that is great news!

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