Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Ocean Hunter Deep Obsession 2008

The competition was held over two days last weekend in Auckland. Day one we selected one pool based event to compete in and on Sunday we chose between constant weight with or without fins.

The Panmure pool is 33m long and rather shallow. I chose to do a static finally as the last one I did in competition was at the world champs in Slovenia, July last year, and so much has changed since then.

My top time was 4:30pm, which I found rather excruciating to wait around all day for. I had a good sleep in despite sleeping in a strange bed. After breakfast I did some nice slow relaxed body stretching followed by some fairly aggressive lung stretching. I was a bit concerned about my lungs after being sick for a little over two weeks prior. An attempt at a static a few days earlier had gone very poorly with a lot of pain around my sternum.

The briefing was at 12:30pm, so there was a lot of waiting around. I managed to find some time to lie down and read a magazine in the morning, which relaxed me a lot. At the pool I ate again then found a good spot to sit where I read my book and could see the divers before me. I had a few nerves but not too badly. I really just decided to take the dive as it came as I didn't know how my body would react. 30 mins to top I took my time changing into my wetsuit. I wanted to be back to see Maria's dive - she's doing so well for a new diver (4:52 static). So sat on the side of the pool during her dive then hopped in once she was done. For about 8 mins before my top I was in the water, in the performance zone, just chilling with my head on the side of the pool. I managed to really relax and was in a great mental zone by the time I heard my countdown. Just to re-iterate, I don't do warm ups any more. I didn't even stretch again after the routine in the morning. I heard my 30s call and started to prepare for my inhale. I don't fully pack for statics any more, as it allows me to remain more relaxed and in control throughout the dive. I do about 20-23 packs as compared to the 30-40 that I need for dynamics. I managed to find my sspace again really quickly once I was down. Time went quickly and I was incredibly relaxed. My first contraction was about 3:35 and I only had about 4 or 5 before 5 mins. I was pretty comfortable through the whole dive and came up with room to spare at 7:01. I had gone much further than anticipated and wanted to have a nice clean dive for this year's rankings. Anyway, I'm now a bit gutted that I didn't wait another 2s as then I would have been 1st on the rankings, but I'm pretty pleased with my result! I should mention too that I had half a glass of red wine and quite a lot of red meat the night before as usual.

The static was just one of those amazingly beautiful relaxed dives that really reminds me why I love freediving so much.

Sunday was lake day: Lake Pupuke on Auckland's North Shore. I've never enjoyed diving Pupuke - the name says it all really. We had a 50m limit as no one is quite sure what we might get stuck in if we go much deeper. In contrast to the day before, we were rushed in the morning: the boys weren't ready and then we couldn't find the motorway (Auckland signage is useless and our instructions missed a few steps). We managed to arrive at the lake 1 minute before I had to check in. I changed and jumped on the boat, which then took a couple of trips out to the dive line. I was getting cold in my Orca tri-suit on the boat before starting my dive. 7 mins to top I finally had the space on the boat to put my monofin on. I didn't really get into any kind of good head space. I had nominated 50m constant weight. It was only my second deep dive of the season and it was probably a bit silly since I'd been sick, but I thought after the day before it would be OK, and the previous dive I had done I was pretty relaxed for. Unfortunately it was overcast and there had been a bit of rain so the visibility was down to about 1-2m. It was also very windy so I managed to get two mouthfills of water during my final breath. My sinuses behaved themselves and I didn't feel any pain on the way down. There was a thermocline somewhere around 15-18m that I remember feeling a bit then pushed it away. Below this the brown top layer clears up but there is no light. I could not see the rope at all and hit the base plate before seeing it despite it being lit by a torch. It was a long way down and I was falling over to the side again but I'm not good at pulling out of things once I've started and have it set in my mind. I found a tag easily and swam back up to the surface hopefully following the rope in the darkness. I was very tense and tried to make myself relax. I openned my eyes at one point and was relieved to see my safety. He said I was having huge contractions, which normally comes from the huge discomfort. I don't often remember them though - it's the whole mind over matter thing as I block them from my consciousness. Anyway, I made it to the surface, did two hook breaths and then blacked out for about 2s in which time my safety managed to grab my fluid goggles by the lenses, pushing them both out to disappear into the darkness and making an already unsucessful dive rather more depressing due to the expense of replacing them. : ( Oh well, I have a few things to work on with depth. 6 of us nominated 50m and only 2 got white cards: Guy and Kerian. I couldn't physically improve on any of my depth results from this year anyway due to the 50m limit. The black out wa a bit memorable of last summer's one. I wonder if near the begining of the season, when my body hasn't yet adapted, if I'm a bit more susceptible to shallow water black out. In both instances I was a bit underweighted which would mean I was flying rather rapidly towards the surface.

I could feel my sinuses again when I was flying home later that night, so the whole deep diving thing was probably a bad idea. It also aggravated the remaining symptoms I had from my cold (mainly coughing), and I felt a lot worse again after. Oh well, we live and learn...

Thanks to Mike at Ocean Hunter for supporting the freedivers again by sponsoring the competition! Also congrats to Guy who set a new men's NZ record with a PB of 8:31, and to Ruth Griffin who has finally broken the British record for dynamics with her 134m dive. There was so much tension in the air waiting to see her white card (after yellow cards on several previous attempts).

Sunday, 16 November 2008

statics

Check out the flash new NZ static record. Very pleased. I'll write about it soon - too tired just now.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

two days to competition

Well, I've had a few comments that it's been all very quiet from me lately, which is true. I was just powering up my training, but got sick two weeks ago, and while I feel a lot better, I've not recovered. My sinuses are pretty blocked up and I've got a bit of a barking cough, so I'm trying to do very little until I come right, or the competition, whichever comes first. I don't know if it'll make a difference to my static or not - a break can sometimes help and we all know that statics are mainly mind over matter, so as long as I can deal with the pain the breath-hold should be OK. I just hope my chest doesn't feel really tight after a break from all that packing and stretching. I have been working on getting enough sleep (rather unsucessfully) and eating the right stuff.

Depth won't matter as with the 50m limit it's impossible for me to improve on my depth achievements from this year. I've done one deep dive this season: 43m was as deep as the rope would allow me to go and it was one of the most relaxed dives I've ever done despite being all over the place. I think without warming up my ears and sinuses should be OK for the one dive, but we'll see on the day.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

coming out of a break

Well, it's been a while. I've had quite a nice break, eating and drinking too much as you do. Focus has been low as I've had a lot of other things going on, but I'm getting it back now that the next competition has been announced for mid-November in Auckland. My main focus will be on statics there as I haven't done a static in competition for so long and my record is getting pretty old.

I have been playing around with my new fin too. I've been trying to glide longer as I find this more relaxing (and I'm generally pretty lazy in dynamics). During a few tests the other night in a 33m pool I went from 8 kicks per length (I include the kick off the wall) to 6 with a longer glide. The timing went from 28s up to 30s, so I feel the benefits might be quite good. I have yet to try a max swim gliding like this. My next goal will be to try not to lose so much power or gain kicks per length throughout the dive.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

statics

It's been a while since I've posted and since then I've been through some rather large lifestyle changes to say the least.

My new goal is to do a good static and stretch out my static record from two years ago. I haven't done a static in competition this year, but have done a few dives now past the 7 min mark. All my dives are done without warm ups now. I'm currently working on two areas: the first is pushing out the time until the first contraction and the second is dealing with contractions.

My best time to first contraction is 3:55 and it's often above 3:40 these days. I'd like to get it regularly past 4 mins as I know this will reduce a little in competition.

I used to be really strong and push through really tough contractions but I don't seem to have the staying power any more - perhaps because my times are so much bigger, but I'd to get that staying power back - might do some brutal CO2 sessions, eg 10x passive breath holds (only exhale & inhale in between). I was doing these on full inhales but the CO2 head ache came before the contractions and they're much easier now than I remember.

Generally when I do statics I try to completely clear my head of all thoughts pre-contractions, which I find easier if there's music in the background. Last night I was a bit distracted and decided to try my really old system of a song. My statics song is the rainbow connection. It makes me feel calm and seems related somehow, but not too much. I do slow it down a bit from Kermit's version.



My first contraction was 3:55. I pulled out fairly early as it wasn't a great dive once the contractions started - I discovered that the blue cheese I ate a couple of hours before didn't taste too great second time around. I've also reduced my packing, so I pack about 60% in statics. This allows me more control with contraction blocking and really doesn't reduce the overall times (did my PB like this).

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Wellington Winter Champs - underwater videos

151m dynamic without fins (world record):


179m dynamic (NZ record and world #2):

Thursday, 21 August 2008

WWC photos




Sunday, 17 August 2008

Coaching

I'm currently considering doing some on-line freediving coaching to help fund some of my up-coming freediving goals. Let me know if you're interested and I'll go over with you my thoughts on how it will work and how much it will cost. If you don't have my email then leave a comment with your email and I just won't post it on-line.

Exciting upcoming Lazy Seal events

All the following events can be found on our web site where there is lots more info if you're interested: www.lazyseal.co.nz

This Tuesday we're holding a beginner's freediving night at Freyberg Pool to try to feed on the recent publicity and get some more people involved in the sport. I do believe that we have three women coming which is pretty exciting in itself!!!

In early January we're holding a dive camp at Lake Taupo to try to get all the local divers (and hopefully some internationals) together to dive together, share knowledge and have a good time. There's no minimum or maximum standard to participate, you just need a passion for the sport (or you'll be bored silly). And, to top it all off, it's cheap.

I've put together a DVD of our competition in May: Apneists' Challenge. Let me know if you'd like to purchase one (NZ$10 + probably that much again on postage if required - all goes to the club). The footage is pretty raw but includes the montage that I put on YouTube, all the official videos, some underwater videos, photos, results, etc.

Aftermath

I thought it time to summarise the events of the past week and plans for the rest of the year.


The Wellington Winter Champs kicked off on the coldest weekend of the year so far in Wellington. There was snow falling in the northern suburbs, and it just doesn't snow in Wellington. Luckily the weather didn't affect the arrival of our many officials joining us from around the world: Grant Graves our A-level judge from Los Angeles, Walter Steyn our women's judge from Canberra, Fran Rose a judge from Auckland, Gavin came up from Christchurch with his fancy camera to film us and of course a couple of competitors from Auckland.


I decided to have a go at the DNF record straight up. I always dive better on the first day after a break. I didn't expect to suffer from nerves so much and have had the great realisation that I don't normally have much at stake in competitions. Normally our competitions don't have other women in them and I just have to deal with me competing against me, which should always be the way anyway - I always get into trouble as soon as I start to worry about what other people are doing, and this was now the case as I was attempting to break someone else's world record, despite having done it so many times in training in preparation, to be sure to be able to achieve it even on a bad day and not psych myself out. The dive was generally reminiscent of doing speeches at school in my early teens when my thighs would shake uncontrollably whether I felt really nervous or not. I was a little disappointed as usually I feel nerves in my stomach, which is much better for freediving as you just have a lot of toilet visits prior, the odd vomit (it's only happened once) and then go and just get over it, but when it's in your legs there's not a lot you can do about it. My pulse rate was also quite a lot higher than usual. I've decided to try to simulate highly stressful situations at training. I have been trying to not worry too much about things, for example I'll finish my conversation and just take a breath and go but maybe this is too relaxed, maybe I can start to think about doing pbs more and always film the dive and have countdowns, just to put a bit more pressure on myself. If anyone else has any great ideas on how to stress me out prior to diving please feel free to leave a comment.


My build up to a competition dive consists of:

  • eating something decent about 90 mins before (reduces the effects of the thigh shaking)
  • about 15 mins of body stretching followed by a single lung stretch, usually followed by a huge head rush
  • hop in the water about 10 mins before (especially important as I tend to overheat prior)
  • visualise dive, especially those areas I struggle with: good push offs, even, calm & relaxed strokes, keep focus, hook breath at end, etc
  • have all gear on and ready to go about 2 mins out
  • get buddy to give me a 40s call as I need to start my inhale on or slightly before 30s to ensure a full breath


I wear 4kg of lead on my neck and 4kg on my waist. This keeps me nice and level in the water through my dive. I am currently getting a bit buoyant again and will look at playing around with my buoyancy again over the next month or so to try to perfect it again.


The Orca Apex 2 is brilliant for no fins. It is a mixed thickness wetsuit with most of the buoyancy through the chest area where is it easily controlled with lead around the neck and wasit, and of course the more lead you wear the more momentum you'll have. It is smooth so really fast in the water and super flexible so no issues with holding your arms out in front. It also has a fantastic neck seal so doesn't catch water while swimming with both arms out in front.

My dynamic has plenty of room for improvement. My fin arrived a week prior to the event and is pretty great for me. Read on further in my blog for the full saga (and still no refund from Leaderfins). I have to work on not slipping sideways in it, not losing kicks per length over the course of a long swim (I added the equivalent of 1 kick per 25m over the competition dive), not losing power from my kicks (which is related to the previous comment, but also will come from getting used to wearing a fin and increasing my leg strength), learning to love the fin (rather than hate it, therefore enjoying the dive, which is my main freediving goal), and dealing with lactic (which I just don't get without fins). To do this without fins I focussed on my dive post 100m which meant a lot of long swims (but it worked), so I intend to do the same with the fin.

I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get around to doing a static in competition as I haven't done one all year in competition and I've improved so much from last year! But I'm going to keep working on this as I'm just starting to have great realisations about how to improve now. There will be one more competition in NZ this year so I'll just have to do one then. I've been quite enjoying statics lately so I'd better use this to my advantage - I tend to go through phases with them.


I'm also going to consider doing some fitness work over the next few months (underwater of course) before summer joins us. I pretty much cut this out of my schedule when I pulled everything back mid to late last year. I like to stick to just doing what I enjoy, so I'll see how it goes and not punish myself too much with it all (or get too tired).

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Competition day 4

Today was day four of the Wellington Winter Champs. I sat out yesterday to have some good energy for today's dynamic in the 50m pool. It was the third time I've worn my new fin (if you don't count half an hour last night in the lounge in front of the TV). It seems to be working pretty well for me. It slipped sideways quite a bit on the first length, but I guess that's partially because I'm not used to it as yet - it seemed to come right. The dive went pretty well. I remember thinking with much dread at 75m that I still had at least 100m to go, but that's normally my worst point in a long dive. I came up at 179m, which again is slightly less than I was hoping for, but I'm happy. It's a new national record and will rank me 2nd in the world. I'll try to do a bit of work with my fin before the next competition to really see where I can go with it.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Wellington Winter Champs media

If you click on the article you should be able to read it. This was in the Dominion Post today.

This is my first news item, as shown on TV1's One news at mid-day today (lucky to get anything due to all the news at the moment - Olympics and the like).


Sunday, 10 August 2008

Wellington Winter Champs day two

I slept slightly better last night and my body again felt great but nerves got the better of me. It wasn't quite as bad as yesterday but my legs were definitely shaking throughout most of the dive, and I never do as well on the second day. I came up at 141m and held it together (the judges were about to get the safety to grab me) but I pulled out the surface protocol in 6s, so it was definitely all OK.

(next day) Hmm, just watched the video and noticed that I got the surface protocol out before the shaking started... It was a little close.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

My first world record

Today AIDA International officiated their 200th world record: my 151m dynamic without fins. The dive time was 2:48s and it was one of the worst dives I've done in a long time, but I made it!!! The previous world record was 149m held by Nathalia Molchanova from Russia. She held all six of the freediving competition world records so it's nice to give her a little competition in the pool for the first time in a few years. :)

I have spent the last week suffering from the most nerves I've ever had pre-competition. I managed to control it OK with positive thoughts but have lost sleep and my heart rate was pretty high before competing. I guess I've had worse in the past when I've thrown up prior to diving, but this time it was more extended. My legs shook through the entire dive and it was truely aweful. I'm going to try again for a little more tomorrow in the hope that the nerves subside since I've already set the world record and tomorrow's attempt is solely for me and will hopefully feel a lot better and make me feel a little more like celebrating a great dive.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

monofin saga drawing to a slow close

I thought I'd better update you guys on the lastest on the monofin saga. Here's where we're at:

Leaderfins three was returned to the NZ rep about three weeks ago and I still haven't got a refund, not that I'd expect them to do anything in a hurry.

Mon 14 July I contacted Max at Triton and he said he could make a fin to specs required (which Leaderfins didn't manage), send it well packaged and get it here before our competition. I must say I was a little sceptical but he seemed really friendly and onto it.

Thurs 17 July I transfered the money for the fin and Max got to work on it.

Mon 28 July the fin was posted.

Tues 5 August, just under three weeks after I'd ordered it my new fin arrived and I'm pleased to say it was fantastically packaged in a wooden crate-like frame.

My requests to Max were that the fin was more neutral than buoyant, good glide angle, side rails and good packaging. While the fin still floats up from the bottom of the 2m deep pool it is a great level of reduced bouyancy for me and I no longer have that huge uncomfortable arch through my back. I can even wear the same amount of weight as with no fins which is great (had to add 2kg with leaderfins). It roughly one more kick per length I think (haven't tried it in the 25m pool to really figure this out as yet) but it's a lot more comfortable so should that should balance it up. The fin seems to bend in all the right places (not through footpockets) so I'm pretty happy. It does create pretty intense pain after about 10 minutes of use but I figure that's normal for a new fin and apart from a little pressure on my left big toe the fit is firm but fairly even. It feels a little stiffer than expected, probably a bit closer to a medium rather than soft fin, but not too much of an effort to move. I guess the real test will be when I do a max attempt, which will be at some time during the competition starting this weekend.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Wellington's new marine reserve

The much discussed new marine reserve along Wellington's south coast is set to be openned by the end of this month! It covers just a small area of the south coast leaving plenty of spots for us to collect paua and crayfish. This part of the south coast is pretty dead from much fishing and diving so I think it'll be great to provide an area where the fish life can replenish.


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

fundraising and donations

We (the Lazy Seals) held a fundraiser on Sunday evening to try to raise a little cash to cover some of the costs of the upcoming Wellington Winter Champs and to take a little of the burden of making up the shortfall of flying in judges from abroad off Dave and I personally. We held a screening of the new Batman film: The Dark Knight at the Empire Cinema in Island Bay - it's one of those boutique cinemas that has couches and you can take your wine or coffee in with you. We rallied amongst our friends and families and encouraged (or guilt tripped) them into supporting us by coming along. The evening was a sucess and we made about $500 towards the competition costs. I'd just like to thank everyone who did venture out on an atrociously stormy night to support us. Thank you for your generousity and I hope you enjoyed the film and the birthday cake!

I'd also like to thank the family and friends who have offered me donations towards this competition. The support has been quite overwhelming! I hope to make you all proud. Can't wait!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

DYN from under water

As you can probably see from these two videos there is still much work to do. Here's what I'm working on:

  • consistant number of kicks per length, which means keeping the power up, more kicks seems to add a lot of time per length time too.
  • not arching through my back (the fin that's on it's way is meant to be more neutral in the water as I'm so buoyant I don't need a floating fin).
  • not moving my hands up and down so much - this should also be resolved by a more neutral fin
  • trying to get more out of my abs and less from my legs - however I do seem to resolve this once the lactic builds up in my legs
  • consistantly achieving more with a fin than without (sadly I've only done 2 dives with a mono that are longer than my DNF PB)
  • positive outlook on wearing a fin

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Saturday, 19 July 2008

PBs

Three weeks until the competition. Today I did another PB. They seem to be coming every one to two weeks at the moment, which is nice. The jumps in DNF are not as large as they have been in the past but it's nice to see that I'm still gently progressing and that I still have not reached any kind of limit. As for DYN, I expect/hope to make some big jumps in that over the next few months as I sort out technique and equipment woes.

The removal of any warms up (except stretching) has meant that I am incredibly alert throughout the entire dive. I've been really focussing on ensuring that my technique is not altered as the dive progresses - I actually coach myself through the entire dive reminding myself that the difficult patch early on is just before the dive reflex has really kicked in, that I don't need to have contractions, that I do need to do good turns and push-offs, and to keep a nice easy relaxed pace with full power strokes so nothing is wasted. I still lose a little power during the dive but in DNF now I'm starting with 2.5 strokes per length and ending with 3, which seems to be much more acceptible than the 5 or so strokes per length that I used to do after 100m. I'm also much more relaxed throughout the entire dive due to doing so many max attempts as I trust myself more and am more consistant.

I may have brought this up before but the evening before most of my best dives I eat a good meal of steak (or other red meat), lots of veges and a glass or two of red wine. It doesn't seem to be quite as good without the red wine. I'd quite like to see if anyone else has tried this and whether or not it works for them. I know Phil is eating a lot of red meat these days and it's helping him reduce fatigue, etc. It's a fabulous excuse to eat meat and have a wine, especially after a few years of not drinking at all in the three weeks prior to competing. I'm not entirely sure that the wine has to be red either but a nice Kiwi Pinot Noir would be my wine of choice, especially next to a beef steak or some venison. I also drink huge amounts of water.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Monofin saga fin four or five

Well, after much agony over fins Leaderfins decided to offer me a refund so now after nine months of waiting I'm back to square one with no fin, or just the old black one. Kerian has kindly offered to loan me his constant weight fin to use for the moment so I hopefully can keep on progressing. I've ordered a hyperfin from Triton. The service was great and Max reckons he can have it in NZ within three weeks, which means I'll have it before the competition. I did have to spend a bit more to get it couriered, but I think it's worth it if only for my general sanity. He's promised to package it very well. I'll keep you updated as to how it all goes.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Dolphin diving

Today I had my first attempt at a long dynamic in the monofin on since the last competition. I'm pleased to say that I did not surface due to the discomfort in my abdominals, which is the first noticable improvement. My technique has improved a lot however there is still alot of work to do. My turns were good, but I lost focus on keeping myself nicely level in the water as I was thinking too much about the dive and the overall technique is still not natural. I ended up adding about one extra kick per length. I set a new personal best of 186m in the 25m pool, and feel there is more to come. It's school holidays and we'd attracted quite a crowd of children due to the monofins and my safety was filming me so I didn't want to overdo anything. I was quite tired (work, endless freediving admin and dealing with the fin saga is getting to me a bit), a little dyhydrated and did not quite feel like I was at the end yet. I finally got some good lactic in my legs, but it wasn't so much that I couldn't go on, it was probably more becuase I was kicking with my legs too much and not enough with my abs. I should also mention that Chris had just done PB of 180m and I couldn't let him hold a PB bigger than mine for too long! Sorry Chris, beaten by a girl again... :) I'm also feeling a bit disheartened by the fin saga which I really notice when I put it on. I'd still much rather dive without fins. I'll try to sort out a video soon.

Film fundraiser



On 27 July we're doing a film fundraiser of the new Batman film in Wellington to try to raise money for the Wellington Winter Champs. The competition is fairly expensive as we've had to fly Grant over from the USA for it. Please click on the image above for more details. Hope you can make it!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Wellington Winter Champs

The competition is sorted. Info and entry forms should be up on LSFC website under notices tomorrow: http://www.lazyseal.co.nz/

The on-going monfin saga

In October 2007 I ordered a Leaderfins hyper pro to replace my old Specialfins dolphin carbon, that had never really worked for me as it was really too hard despite being a soft blade. In early December they promised it was in the post and I was hoping to receive it before Christmas. In early February it arrived but the date on the postal reciept was just days before Christmas. The corner was broken off. I asked for a replacement as it was poorly packaged. It also had a fingerprint on it that looked like a blood stain. In early April the replacement arrived but nothing was done to remedy the packaging problem and fin #2 was worse off than fin #1 with a good 2cm crack perpendicular to the blade end in the centre. We sent the fin back with the expectation of a replacement. They said that they had someone else to take this fin and were making me a replacement. On Thursday fin #3 arrived. It was sent air frieght to avoid sitting in transit too long. It was packaged better, although I don't think they get the concept of bubble wrap and the fact that cling film really has no impact resistance whatsoever. It was not broken but was fin #2 in disguise. They did a few things to try to make it look different. They removed the sticker and replaced it with a different one. I estimate that they cut about 5cm off the bottom of the fin. It looks absolutely miniscule. They stuck rails on the edges, top and bottom (they needed to put them on the bottom too as they extend well past the end of the fin blade). The cut goes halfway through the wave pattern of the fibreglass so I'm not convinced that the laminations will stay together. The footpockets are longer than the fin blade. They also waited the usual three months to send it. I've heard that shorter fins might be good if you're someone who swims fast with hard kicks - doesn't sound like me at all. My advice would be to boycott leaderfins. Maybe try these new Triton guys - they seem to be giving good service and have figured out how to package them safely. If I'm really lucky a year after ordering I might get a complete monofin - then I can start the search for a constant weight fin... I just want to be able to dive in equipment I can trust and by being sent fins like this it shows that the manufacturer really doesn't care too much about quality.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Learning to be a dolphin

I've had three dynamics technique sessions over the past week and can see some pretty good improvements already. I'm starting to get more of a dolphin-like kick rather than the sideways eel bending that I've been battling with for a while now. I haven't attempted a long swim yet so I don't really know if I'm still stretching myself through my abdomen to a point where I can't go on. I'll probably give that a go in a week or two once it starts to feel more natural. I've also reduced to only 5 kicks per length (25m) including the push off. It was 6-8 kicks when I was gliding with my fin and hands up too high so it was obviously reducing my streamlining a lot! My turns still need work. When it works and I've got a bit of momentum up it's really good and comfortable, but if I lose concentration and slow down or lift my head up I hit the bottom with my knees an then it's hard to get moving again. I've got two more weeks to see if I can work out my hate relationship with the monofin before I either decide to give it a real go at the next comp of leave it for a while. We will have one comp day in a 50m pool, so I'll be giving it a go then anyway, ready or not...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Next competition

Wellington Winter Champs, 9-13 August 2008. Pools and judges will be finalised this week and the competition announced. We have Grant coming so there will be an opportunity to break world records. Let me know if you want to participate and you're not on the Lazy Seal Freediving Club mailing list. All welcome!

Update

This is my 101st blog post - feeling a little greedy on the internet space usage... :) Hope you're not too bored with my ramblings.

The latest is that I'm not allowed to compete at the world champs in Egypt since I do not have a team. I would require another NZ woman to attend and want to get in the water, plus pay their own entry etc. I'm coming to terms with it now and I'm sure that I'll make up for the lost trip next year when I can focus on my best events.

After getting really annoyed with the rather uncomfortable sensations I experience when wearing my monofin and the fact that I'm not going to Egypt, I vowed a few weeks ago to not wear it for a while - I kind of want to beat what I've done with the fin without fins. But, after some time off from it I've decided to really work on fixing up my crappy technique over the next few weeks to see what I can achieve for the next competition. Besides, the fin (attempt three) that I ordered from Leaderfins in October last year is due to arrive in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully there will be a little bubble wrap in the box this time and no great cracks through the blade. I've been using the first broken one on and off since it arrived (such enthusiasm) - we cut the corners off. Just as a note I haven't caught up without fins yet! I'll be working on trying not to arch my back so much, which stretches me through my chest and causes pretty enormous discomfort when fully packed and is the main reason that I abort dives (something that I really try not to do at all). I think part of the problem is that I'm so buoyant so my legs come up and then I over compensate with my arms and end up like a big U. Not mention that it's just not as natural a feeling or as easy as the no fins. :( There are no gravity/overcoming buoyancy issues with dynamics without fins. I also get quite tired when I have to fully pack for all technique dives - this is pretty important as I'm really comfortable when not fully packed but can't go anywhere near as far, it's quite a different experience. Maybe it's a matter of finding the happy medium. I'd quite like to crack the 200m (with a mono of course - trying to make this clearer after previous mis-interpretations, though DNF would be fab but give me a year or two for that one). I feel that I should be able to add about 10m going to a 50m pool (169 NZ record and 176m PB were done in 25m pool) due to my fairly poor turning skills, so then I only have to add about 10% to get to the end, which is just sticking with it through the discomfort and slightly improving technique - haven't really had any great issues with lactic as yet, maybe that's something I'll discover over the next 25m... With a bit of luck I'll learn to really enjoy having my feet tied together with a big fin. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Sponsorship

Sealord has kindly given me some tinned tuna. I'm currently trying to think up some cunning ways to turn the product into cash ...
Thanks for the support Sealord!

Friday, 13 June 2008

video editing

I just had my first play with the video editing software that I just found on my computer. Check out the results.


Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Friday, 6 June 2008

links to more articles

Sara-Lise did a profile of me for Deeper Blue:

http://www.deeperblue.net/article.php/836/21


I should also mention the other one on Deeper Blue from the Vertical Blue competition (sorry for not posting this earlier Peter!):

http://www.deeperblue.net/article.php/833/2

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Video of 150m DNF


I have to apologise about the quality - I think I reduced it too much... :( Still was pretty large to upload.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

media

This was in a weekly Palmy paper:

Friday, 30 May 2008

Egypt update

The AIDA board are now reviewing whether or not they're going to allow independant divers, so there is a little hope. Otherwise, Patti, would you like to make your freediving debut at the World Champs this year??? It'll only cost NZ$500 (plus travel and accom which you were going to do anyway) and you'll get a t-shirt and certificate, not to mention that you'll get to stay, train, and compete with some of the world's best freedivers! Doesn't really matter what your results are, you just have to get in the water once. Maybe a quick static. Am I selling it well? It would be fun to have a team. :(

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Grrr...

I'm feeling disappointed and very frustrated. I've just been informed that they're not taking independant divers at the Teams World Champs this year (as they have in the past), so I guess I'm not going to Egypt unless Joy or Fran want to take the plunge and make a NZ team with me! Evidently we only need two to make a team. It's really crappy news when everything has been going so well and I felt I could really take on the world this year. I had two friends coming to meet up and support me in Sharm who I haven't seen for ages, plus I wanted to see the pyramids and sphinx, dive in warm water again, and do a bit more beach star gazing with Nat. Wouldn't be so bad if there were actually people to compete against here, but it's always just me. I guess at least I should now be able to afford to go to both individual competitions next year. Off to training now. I need to put my head under water for a while...

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Dive New Zealand

We got three mentions in the Dive New Zealand June/July issue. You should be able to click on them now to read:



Friday, 23 May 2008

Cover girl

This article makes me cringe for a variety of reasons:

Thursday, 15 May 2008

media

We're still in the lifestyle/culture section but at least it's something I suppose:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU0805/S00105.htm

Monday, 12 May 2008

thoughts

Well, this year is shaping up to be much better than last year (though it wouldn't be too hard). After three competitions I have done 12 dives, furthered 10 national records, made all the records my own and finally removed the "arguably" from in front of being NZ's top woman freediver! I've also pulled myself up the world rankings quite considerably.

I've learned a bit since the world champs last year. The first is to not set goals based on distance or what other people are doing. I need to really understand my body and listen to it throughout the dive - not giving in to the early talk in my head when the dive feels hard, and not pushing myself further than my body will allow me to go on that day. I've learned a lot about the signals that my body is giving me day to day with respect to fatigue, over training, lack of energy, as well as feeling really good, and am dealing with it by ensuring that I get enough to eat and good sleep. I've pulled back my training a lot, reminding myself of what I love about freediving and sticking to that, which means I'm enjoying myself a lot more. I'm hardly doing any specific fitness training, however I am doing a lot of max attempts and technique work. I've given myself minimums for bad days and don't let myself pull out early as the benefits must be the same. I learned how to pack and how to stretch my lungs in both directions. I learned frenzel equalisation and how to start to relax at depth. I've learned how to block contractions. I've discovered that warm ups caused me more distress than they were worth. I learned to relax more in competition and deal with the unexpected. I've found a new level of consciousness during a dive that allows me greater control mentally and physically. I've met lots of new interesting people with similar passions in life and people who I can call on to answer my questions. All this in seven months and I feel like I've barely brushed the surface of this sport! I'm quite excited about what the rest of the year will bring.

The weekend's competition went really well. Thanks to everyone who helped me out with the organisation. There were a lot of you but it makes it so much easier if we all pitch in with even the smallest of tasks. It was great to just have one session per day and be able to chill out and enjoy the afternoons with friends. We replayed the official videos (some in fast forward as some of us do have lives outside freediving) at the BBQ on Saturday afternoon with full running commentaries of everyone's thoughts. Our judges did an excellent job despite being fairly new to this. They all acted in a competent manner and had a good grasp of the rules.

I thought I'd give you a wee summary of my routine to share the knowledge. I do body stretching for about 20 mins before diving. This covers the whole body quite systematically and pretty slowly and carefully. If my muscles feel weak or shakey at this stage I eat some dried fruit to keep the energy up. I then do one or two pack stretches. Normally I get a pretty good head rush doing this, but I say better at this stage than right before the dive. I would then use the bathroom and changed, so I have a bit of time to relax before diving. Basically I ensure that I have plenty of time to get into the water and organise my equipment without hurrying but not so long that I would get cold. I don't do any fancy breathing. I actually try to not think about my breathing at all as this would start to regulate it. I try to keep my eyes closed as much as possible and avoid distractions. I run through the entire dive in my head, usually twice, keeping goals in perspective. I take my breath and go...

For dynamics I wear an Orca Apex 2 triathlon wetsuit. It keeps the chill off and is extremely flexible. It cuts down the number of strokes each length significantly thanks to the additional bouyancy (greater momentum from adding more weight - 2kg for this suit over togs) and is very streamlined and fast. I wear 4kg on my neck and 4kg on my hips to keep me absolutely level in the water. For dynamics I'm wearing a leaderfins hyper pro monofin and have to add another 1.5kg on my hips as it's very buoyant. I should note that I am definitely a floater and this much weight would sink most guys straight to the bottom (unless you're Dave Mullins with 15L lungs).

I think the Lazy Seals are doing so well at the moment because we're pretty competitive amongst ourselves and we generally feel that we should all be able to reach the same level as our best divers and are happy to help each other to get there. Improvement within the club spurs on enthusiasm for others to do better. We do not have a coach, so just work on what we know and our own independant programmes. It seems to be working as we're getting some good rankings. It does mean that our standards are pretty high and we often have to pull things back into prespective for our new divers.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

last national record

Today I got the last national record: 169m dynamic. The dive itself pretty much reinforced my complete dislike of wearing a fin...

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Today was a good day...

Today was day one of the Apneists' Challenge at Trust Porirua Aquatic Centre. I organised this competition as I wanted to set up some national record attempts, but others wanted to take part too, and I'd always prefer to break records in competition as then it seems more like a sport than a stunt. We set it up so the divers could select their event each day, and wed just do one session each day rather than the usual two on day one followed by one on day two. Normally the no fins dynamic is severly flawed by the fact that you've already done one max attempt that day, so I wanted to be able to give my best to this event. Originally I intended to do dynamics without fins followed by a static on day two. But now I'll be replacing the static with a dynamic, even though I still struggle in the monofin. This is the last remaining national record that doesn't have name next to it yet!

I nominated 118m DNF today. It's a pretty easy dive that I can manage even on a bad day, and 118m would take me to the national record, so I felt pretty safe.

I slept terribly. It was a mixture of nerves and the neighbour's party.

A hot shower (muscles felt tight) two breakfasts, two stretching routines and a couple of full packing inhales later I was awaiting my official countdown at the end of the pool. Top time was midday. I got in the pool early as I was overheating on the side of the pool, and my pulse was absolutely racing! I almost managed a nap with my head on the end of the pool and convinced myself that I only had to break the national record, not the world record, so felt a lot calmer before my dive.

I had to get Chris to give me a 40 to top call so I could get a full breath without rushing. Packing seems to take me ages, but it is worth the extra time.

The pool is wonderful. 25m. 27 degrees. Gentle slope from 1.2m to 2m.

The dive went really well. I kept my head together and felt strong. I now repeat to myself: relax, focus, relax, focus, with the occasional reminder to keep my feet together, do strong pulls and hook breath near the end. I felt quite strong at the end, but didn't want to overdo it and miss out on my national record!

Final result: 150m, new national record, not the right judges to make it a world record.

Current world record: 149m, Natalia Molchanova

New world ranking: 1st equal (with Natalia).

Thursday, 8 May 2008

three days until I can have a wine...

Tonight we visited our national museum Te Papa - I haven't been for a while which is pretty poor considering it is a mere block from our apartment. It's the last week of the Whales exhibition. There was no water but some cool videos, skeletons, etc. There was a scale model of some different breeds of whales compared to a person. Half of them go deeper than me on their duck dive! I now realise why the humpbacks semed so big in Tonga - they realy were huge.

There's only one more day before the competition this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it. I keep smashing my personal bests in training, and haven't entered a pool competition since I learned to pack in about October last year. My performances have increased by a similar percentage to my lung volume! I'm trying to remind myself that I only have to break national records and any further distance is a bonus. My usual dowfall is when I set specific minimum distances and forget to listen to my body through sheer determination to achieve the required distance. Anyway, I haven't had a black out in the pool since the world champs last year, so I'm pretty confident of sucessful dives. Porirua pool is amazing for no fins - it's 25m, fast, and a good depth. I'm also trying to stay excited about the comp and not let the nerves take over!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Back to the "real world"

I've been back home a week now. The jet lag has finally subsided - I actually managed to sleep until the alarm went off this morning (I know it's Sunday, but I train in the mornings on the weekends). It has been a bit of a shock to the system to leave the late New Zealand summer, enjoy the warm Bahamas winter climate and return to a definite autumn chill in the air. I donned thermals, a scarf and woolly hat this afternoon for a quick walk along the beach with the dog. Work as been quite unsettled. The Bahamas has affected me quite deeply in a way I can not describe. The call of the sea and the obsession with diving has intensified. After a week off I headed back to the pool. It was absolutely devine to be back in the water. I felt intensely happy and great relief. The few dynamics I have done since my return have felt like they are on a completely new level both physically and mentally. I have incorporated a few things into them that I learned from the depths: a greater ability to relax and focus right through to the end of the dive. I have lost weight (which I generally try to avoid) and have gained more lead, indicating yet another increase in lung volume. There are three weeks left until our little pool competition where we will be able to attempt two events each. I'm going to keep you guys in suspense until then!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

article

Anna Norman kindly wrote up a press release for me. We got it onto a local media website in the cultural section, since no one seems to see freediving as a sport yet... The colours have strangely gone a bit funny with my print below, but you'll get the gist. If you click on the page you should be able to read the article. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU0804/S00137.htm


Sunday, 13 April 2008

Kiwis in the Bahamas


Mike, Nick, me, Fran, Dave, Joy, Kerian, Will

leaving


It's sad to be leaving without seeing the end of the competition and having only just started to get my head around deep diving. The last two dives were the best mentally and I feel that with more time I would be able to go much deeper. I'm pleased with my results and progress over the last three weeks but might have to aim for a few months next year! I have no more chances to train until we get to Egypt in August, so I suppose we'll be back to doing 15m negatives in the cold mucky harbour over winter to keep the ears going and the body adapted. It was such a pleasure to dive without a wetsuit. It felt much more like I have always thought the sensation of freediving should. Now it would just be nice to get rid of the nose clip and goggles, neckweight, lanyard, depth gauge and cap. I wonder how much drag the hair on your head actually creates.
I'm currently wasting time in Miami airport. I'm quite impressed as every second food place sells salads – not just your usual hot dogs and burgers. That would have been good on the way over. I had ice cream for lunch yesterday. Only problem was that it had just bbeen unloaded from the boat so it was more like a milkshake! I'm flying American Airlines and the TV news in Deadman's Caye before the first flight said that a lot of their flights are cancelled and grounded at the moment due to technical troubles. Luckily I haven't been affected. I also saw that Frontier airlines, who I flew from LA to Orlando with on the way over has just gone bankrupt, so I'm pleased I idn't book with them to get home! They were so much cheaper than the others though, which was possibly the problem!

I'm holding out for an hour or so before I look up the internet for the final day's competition results. I hope the Kiwi boys pulled through and achieved their announcements. I couldn't get on line yesterday, which is why all my blogs are going to be posted at the same time.

It was really beautiful flying from Long Island to Nassau and then on to Miami. You could see the variations in the sea floor with the clear turquoise water over in a multitude of hues.
Last night all the eight kiwis and the odd straggling Canadian and Chilean came over to our apartment. A few of the boys had been swimming around as shark bait earlier and speared a couple of fish, which we put on the barbeque. George, the owner of the apartments took a bit of a liking to us and gave us a bag of crawfish tails (like crayfish). We had a huge feast and a few of us drank some random cocktails. The 1L bottle of apple flavoured smirnoff vodka was emptied as was the raspbberry flavoured Bicardi. Very nice. Spirits are really cheap in the Bahamas. Later Fran, Joy and I lay out on the deck under the stars. The stars in the Bahamas are really quite special. I really felt happy lying in the sand under the immensely starry sky, spotting shooting stars and just chilling out.

I just worked out that I've been travelling for eight hours already and still have 26 hours to go before I make it home. At least I didn't get a lot of sleep last night so I should be tired enough to sleep on the plane quite happily.

Last day

I wrote a bit before I left but couldn't get on line to post it, but here they are:


I've just said goodbye to Dean's Blue Hole. It's a bit like breaking up with a great love. I feel so at home here. The water is so beautiful: calm and warm, and a gorgeous blue. I regret that I can not stay longer to really discover what I am really capable of. The last three weeks have gone so fast. I have only just started relaxing at depth, trusting myself and learning to think through the stages of each dive to be more controlled.


Yesterday evening I took a risk and nominated 65m constant weight for today. I did a couple of practise entries yesterday until my togs split and I had to get out of the water with my bum exposed. It was the first time I'd worn a fin while I've been here. It felt so easy. I took a little lead out of my neck weight and decided to just go for it to test out my equalisation and see how it felt to be that deep.


Today I had a few nerves, as you'd expect having not trained for the event and trying to push out my personal best by 9m! I did quite a lot of visualisation prior to diving to ensure that I knew what would happen at each stage and to try to keep my head together. About 12 minutes to top I put Kerian's Leaderfin Hyper on at the beach and swam out to the platform in my togs as I am trying to keep my wetsuit dry for when I pack it this afternoon. It was quite pleasant to be in the water. I sat on the back of the platform as Leo blacked out from his dive just under the surface. I tried to block him out and not let it bother me or affect my dive. I was reminded of my depth by the judges as they let the base plate down to my nominated 65m. I tried to ignore the pain of yesterday's sunburn on my shoulders as I sat in the sun. Suddenly there was just 4 minutes to go. I put my nose clip on and prepared my lanyard. At 2 minutes I started preparing to enter the water so I would be in by 1:30 to top. I slid in and Kerian clipped my lanyard to the line. There was a little current and despite the weight of the fin my feet were trying to float as usual. I held on to the rope with my arms as I wouldn't require their strength for this dive. The time goes fast when you only get in with 1:30s to top. I heard the 30s call and started preparing for my last breath. It takes about 40s for me to inhale fully including about 35-40 packs. My entry went well and I was freefalling within 6 kicks. I did a couple more to get up some good speed then pulled through with my arms to relax in my freefall. I reminded myself to relax and focus through the contractions that started very soon in the freefall phase. Equalisation worked really well. I had one little difficult stage at bout 60m when I had to revverse pack to get my mouthful back and then equalised on it with very little effort. At depth I did not yet feel any pressure on my chest and felt that I had plenty of air left for equalising. There was a very tiny thermocline at about 55m and it was fairly dark at depth, but I could still make out the striped part of the rope with relative ease. I grabbed the line, then the tag from the bottom plate. I pulled hard on the line to commence my ascent and held the tag in my hand as I started kicking upwards. Kerian's fin felt beautiful. I felt like I was getting so much momentum from every easy kick. It also allowed my to keep my technique together, which is something I've always struggled with using my carbon fibre special fins monofin. I told myself all the way up to relax and focus. I saw Fran who was doing my deep safety and knew that the surface was near. My legs were just starting to feel a little tired with a little lactic build up and having done pretty deep dives the two days previously, but I pushed it out of my mind. As I neared the surface I glided and started thinking about surfacing. My head popped up and I grabbed the rope, breathed beautiful fresh air and gave my surface protocol before showing the tag, still firmly grasped in my right hand. The dive was much easier than expected and I feel there's plenty more to come in this discipline. Again I just need more time...


Tomorrow I start the long journey home.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

50m diver!

Last night we went to Chez Pierre's for dinner. We arrived at about 7:30pm, ordered at 8:30, started eating after 9 and got our mains about 9:45pm. It was a really cute restaurant though and the food was really good. It was right on it's own stunning beach front. I got my fill of red meat and veges that always makes for good diving the next day.

I woke up stiff again, the same as yesterday. I stretched and seemed to get rid of it a little pain. I figure it's all mind over matter once you're down there anyway so you can't let these niggly little things get to you... I went over the dive in my head several times to ensure that I wouldn't lose focus or panic on the ascent.

The dive itself was pretty painful. The contractions started early again (probably about 20m) due to my no warm up and no forced ventilation prior to the dive. I had some negative thoughts during freefall, but luckily it felt quite fast so I soon saw the 5m marker, then reached out for the stripes indicating the last 1.5m. I reached out, grabbed the tag and stuck it to my lanyard belt, then gave a huge tug on the line to commence my upward momentum before starting the big breaststroke swim back to the surface. I was telling myself to focus and relax the whole way. IIt was one of the frst dives I've had where I can remember the massive contractions I was experiencing on the ascent. Normally I just block them from my mind and keep swimming, so they must have been huge. Eventually I saw Nat, my deep safety and I did a few more strokes and reminded myself to both glide up towards the surface for the final ten meters and remember to do my hook breath on the surface. I breathed, and completed my surface protocol for the judges to set my 5th national record of the competition and put myself into the top 5 in the world for women's constant weight without fins! It was a really hard dive and I panted for a long time after, however, I do feel that given more time to train at dept I would have a lot more to give. Not too bad though for having done less than 20 deep dives without fins and more than half done here over the last three weeks.

Tomorrow is my last day :( I'm going to have a go at going quite deep with Kerian's monofin, since I haven't had any issues with my equalisation yet and Keian's mono is so much nicer than mine I've nominated 65m so will see what happens. I've only done three dives past 50m ever. Could be interesting...

Impressions of the Bahamas

I realised that I've only really talked about freediving in the Bahamas and not the place itself. Don't you wonder where my focus has been? I suppose I can only comment on Long Island, and only a small part of that too!

  • the people are really friendly but speak with a very stange accent - I have to keep reminding myself that yes they are speaking english and no I don't have to talk slowly as they can understand me! They are also very honest - you store the car keys in the iginition and don't need to lock the door when you go out.
  • the lifestyle is very relaxed.
  • the weather is beautiful, however thi is the end of winter, so I imagine it gets pretty hot and muggy in summer
  • the beaches are beautiful - soft golden sand, clear, warm water of all shades of blue
  • driving is hilarious - people just stop in the middle of the road for a chat, back up if they miss something, driv in the middle or on the wrong side of the road, swerving to avoid pot holes, crabs, birds, etc.
  • the stars at night are amazing. Have you ever considered how we can see so much further in the dark???
  • there are too many roosters (well outside my bedroom window anyway)!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Smiling Kathryn

Just figured out that 48m places me 5th= ever in women's constant no fins history! :) Makes me smile... 50m will be 4th=. Maybe I should have gone for 51...

And the competition continues...

Last night I resisted the overwhelming temptation to have a glass of red wine (it's not as good as what we have at home anyway) and cooked myself a huge feast of lamb chop, fresh veges and pasta. Very tasty. I managed to get a good sleep of almost ten hours, despite the rooster's regular interventions and Fran my room mate cursing it on several occasions. I awoke very stiff. I had all the usual pains through my neck, shoulders and lower back, but just a little more intense than usual, and then some new ones in both arms at the base of the tricep and both legs at the base of the quads. I rubbed Anti-Flamme all over and did some stretching. It helped a little but not a lot. Problems with doing nothing I suspect.

I nominated 48m constant weight without fins for today, to set a new national record and give myself a bit more confidence after a couple of tiny surface black outs after diving to 50m. I again dived without a wetsuit, as this means I can go without the weightbelt so it is much more comfortable. I don't need a warm up so have just been getting in about 1:30s before my top with my nose clip already on. I had a bit of a rough start as I had been focusing on my ascent during visualisation more than the descent in order to try to relax a bit more down there. Kerian said that I didn't look nearly as comfortable as usual through this point of the dive. The contractions came early, about on my last stroke downwards, so probably around 20m under. I tried to ignore them as it's usually quite a good dive when they come on early. The descent was mentally difficult with thoughts of turning early and general discomfort. But before I knew it I saw the 5m mark whizz past and I held out for the base plate. I grabbed at the striped rope indicating 1.5m to the base plate, spun around, grabbed the tag, stuck it to my lanyard belt and started the ascent. I reminded myself throughout the entire ascent “Kathryn, relax, focus...” Finally it worked and I had a good ascent. I swam up setting up a good rhythm. Peter the safety diver appeared in front of me and I took a few more strokes before allowing myself to drift up to the surface to grab the rope, breathe and give my surface protocol to the judges, scoring my 4th national record for the competition. I will try for 50m again tomorrow.




Two world records fell today. Kiwi William Trubridge did a free immersion dive to 107m and Russian Natalia Avseenko finally achieved 57m in constant without fins (pushing out my future goals a little!).

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Day 7 of competition

This is my second day of rest in a row. I seem to have been expending more energy on my rest days than on my dive days, so decided it would be good to have another day off. I tried very hard to not get in the water today but it was so inviting, so I just had a lazy float around and enjoyed just getting wet. I finally climbed up the cliff today to take some photos of the magnificent view extending from the Blue Hole (now very blue) across the bay and out to sea. The waves on the other side of the wall that protects the hole from the wrath of the ocean were crashing in with enormous power and spraying high above the cliff, meanwhile the the blue hole was calm and unaffected. Sand sculptures seemed to be the theme of the day. While I didn't partake there was a dolphin swimming with a mermaid and a freediver (or course).
The diving today was fairly uneventful apart formt he Japanese, perhaps since they skipped the barbeque last night. Ryuzo and Tomoko both achieved their announced performances of 101m and 54m respectively in constant weight. A few of us scratched and the kiwi boys Will and Dave had trouble equalising both turning early, but still reaching pretty amazing depths. Karol gave up on her last dive before flying out, forcing Frank who was her deep safety to drag her up from 17m.
Yesterday I was the safety diver on the warm up line – it's pretty cold just hanging around the line for a couple of hours. I spent quite a lot of time mucking around taking photos, but unfortunately only got a few good shots. I played around at the edge of the hole after the diving was done and got to know the locals a little. Only managed to get a couple of nice fish photos though.


Fish around the side of the Blue Hole




Kerian in his descent.




Me doing warm up safety.


After diving we all went up to Chris's house for a barbeque. Chis owns a dive shop on the island. His property is right on the waterfront and has it's own gorgeous little private beach complete with soft golden sand, boat ramp, coconut palms and a big cave.


We sat around drinking, eating and laughing. My mocktails were lacking a little something (rum perhaps), but I got a nice wee sugar high. Charlie brought lots of fish to eat and there were lots of salads so we ate pretty well. After dinner the boys played beach volleyball. I had a quick dip in the water, as one must when they're presented with such a beautiful location and warm, clear, calm seas. Will's friends Mike and Nick took to running around zapping people with a little device that gave people electric shocks. A few people played horseshoes. It was a good evening. On the way up to the car Fran decided it would be a good idea to pee under a tree in the garden. Joy was a bit on the jolly side and decided to steady herself whilst waiting for Fran by grabbing hold of a random pole, which just happened to be a tall thin cactus. She got quite a few thorns stuck in her hand, which are still embedded. The advice from the pharmacy today is to urinate on her hand, then drop hot wax on it and pull the spikes out with the wax once it has cooled! I think she has yet to carry this out...

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The allusive 50m

I took a risk today and had a go at the 50m no fins dive. It was a pretty nice dive and I was in a good head space through most of the dive. I'm starting to relax bit more underwater, however still have moments of tension. The descent has now become easier than the ascent, which is slightly concerning as I'll have to dive with a base plate to stop me from now on! The dive went great but I came up, grabbed the rope, started my surface protocol then had a wee black out for a few seconds. It's funny how the memory loss and loss of motor control are slightly mis-aligned. I don't really remember the surfacing but I have a clear recollection of the moment my head fell backwards and someone removed my neckweight. I think I was out for about 3s, so not a major. I'll have a day off then try for something slightly less before attempting it again!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Kiwis breaking records


Today was a great day. The sun came out and while the wind is still blowing is was not as gusty as it has been. The black hole is starting to turn blue and the rubbish drifting around on the surface is disapating. I witnessed William Trubridge break the constant weight without fins world record, where he dove to 84m on a single breath. I felt shivers as the judges raised their white cards and awarded him the record! I nominated 44m in the same event. Today I decided to dive without a wetsuit. It was a very pleasurable dive, comfortable and easy the whole way. I swam to the platform in my wetsuit and then stripped off. I lowered myself into the water at about 1:30s to top to avoid feeling the cold. The sun hid behind a cloud while I was on the platform, but I did not feel cold. It's still so much warmer than at home. It was a pretty easy national record. I'm working on relaxing at depth as this is the main way in which I can see that I can easily gain some good depth at the moment. Tomorrow I'm going to try for 50m with the same set up.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Competition day 3


The weather is finally clearing up. I'm sure this place is windier than home though! Today the black hole was starting to turn blue and the visibility was better, however still just a mere 15m or so. At least there was minimal surface current, which has been one of the things concerning me when I do no fins as it seems to mess up the entry and then the dive just goes poorly. Today I nominated 41m without fins. I thought I'd start off with something fairly easy in the attempt to boost my confidence a little. It was a pretty easy dive, but I still need to work on relaxing under water. It's getting better but can be the difference between a sucessful outcome and not! Anyway I furthered my national record by another 5m, with plenty more left to go further.

Yesterday I tried to have a rest day. I coached Kerian through his 60m constant weight dive, then we went exploring. We went to Galloway's landing, which is a beach near Clarence Town. It was on the lea side of the island, so we were hoping for calmer seas. The beach was stunning and the waves weren't too bad. We hopped in and swam towards a dark patch that we expected to be a reef. The water was beautiful but there was minimal life. We found one tiny little reef and then went looking for a bigger one. We just kept on swimming over the top of beautiful golden sand, but no reefs came. We turned back when the electrical storm hit. The colour out there were amazing. The water was a stunning light blue which was really set off against the backdrop of purple-grey sky as the storm came through. We expected an easier swim home due to the fact that we felt we had swum against the current all the way out, but there was no such luck! It was quite an exhausting “dive” for my rest day!



After the big swim we went in search of some good food and found a bar and grille on the opposite side of the island in Clarence Town (remembering that the island is incredibly narrow). I branched out and ordered the snapper. The plate arrived with two whole snapper on it and lots of veges. It was pretty good. Later most of the divers here were going out for dinner at Chez Pierre's, however the boat hadn't arrived with the fresh produce, so he couldn't feed us and we were forced to look for a different retaurant. We ended up going back to the same place. I managed to eat a couple of quite large pork chops, so definitely had a good level of protein for today's dive. To be honest I felt more shattered after my rest day than I normally would after a big dive. Oh well, might just have to continue to take it easy over the next few days...

Bahamas updates

Just a reminder that all the results and updates are being posted at: http://verticalblue.net/news/

For updates re Kerian and I you can go to:
http://deansbluehole.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

First day!

Today was the first day of competition. The weather has been rather poor. There was another storm last night and the hole was affected again by current, poor visibility and a fair amount of weed and rubbish floating around. I decided to have a go at my final NZ depth record as I haven't had a lot of luck with the no fins going particularly well in the current. It seems to slow me down considerably on both descent and ascent, and increases my stroke count a great deal. I nominated a 56m free immersion dive to equal the depth that I made in Taupo three weeks ago in constant weight. I felt this would be an easy dive as a few days ago I achieved and easy 57m on my first attempt at a deep free immersion dive. Free Immersion involves the diver pulling themselves down the line and back up, without the use of fins.

We have one car to share for the whole apartment which looks like it may prove challenging as we have one judge, the medic, and two divers staying here. After a lot of mucking around in the morning trying to make the transport work for everyone who had to be there at different times I managed to scoff down some breakfast a mere hour and three quarters prior to my top time. I had just enough time to complete my body and lung stretches and then head off to the blue hole to check in 45 mins prior to my official top time. There was a lot of wind down at the beach and no shade whatsoever. I mucked around for a few minutes taking photos and trying to watch the competition, but then had to go and find a quiet shady spot. I put the boot of the car up and managed to sit in a tiny bit of shade behind the car in the time I had prior to getting suited up. The time passed rapidly and I soon had to start preparing my gear. It rained for the few minutes while I was putting on my wetsuit and then cleared up immediately after. Once I was sure I had everything on I wandered down to the water and swam the 15m or so over to the platform, and sat at the back. Three women before me had nominated 57m free immersion dives but only Natalie had completed hers sucessfully. I closed my eyes and visualised each part of my dive carefully. I moved up to the front of the platform where I sat a little longer. I fixed my nose clip in position and attached my ankle lanyard to the line. The last two training sessions I had spent too much time in the water prior to diving and was concerned about over breathing while lying on my back waiting for my top time, especially since yesterday I had a wee surface black out after diving to 50m without fins. I slipped into the water with 2:30s left to top. I was much more relaxed than usual for a competition dive, and more relaxed than I expected since it was only my second attempt ever at a deep free immersion dive. The warmth of the water really helps. I managed to keep my breathing about as close to normal as can be expected. At 30s to top I commenced my final breath only to take in quite a lot of water as a small wave washed over my face. I spat it out and started again. Sometimes this happens when I start to take my last breath as I'm sitting quite low in the water after a fairly good exhale. I had a fairly good entry and pulled down the rope until I felt freefall kicking in, then gave one more big pull. The freefall felt great. I started my mouthful quite soon after I stopped pulling on the line. I have been doing this a bit lately as it seems to be a lot more comfortable and if my nose clip is leaking air it is less likely to continue once I switch to the mouthful.I had no issues at all with equalisation and found myself at the bottom plat in no time. It was very dark and I could only just make out the stripes on the rope marking the last 1.5m to the bottom plate. I grabbed the line and reached out to grab a tag. I felt around on the base plate for some time unable to find a tag. After a few seconds I aborted the search, turned and started pulling myself back up the line to the surface. I pulled hard on the line trying to keep a consistent rhythm. I felt the lack of air with about 10m to go and reminded myself to stay focussed and stick with it. I have a bit of a blank in the memory of the end of my dive, but from the accounts around me I surfaced, grabbed the line, had a wee samba, pulled myself together and completed the surface protocol in the 15s allowed. On checking the watches I had dived to 57.8m since the judges forgot to pull the line up 1m after the other three girls had finished. My dive time was about right at 2:15s. I was awarded a yellow card for not retrieving a tag, however this was reversed when the judges pulled up the line to check that there were in fact no tags. So, my new New Zealand record of 57m exceeds the depth I have achieved with fins!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Bahamas

The other night we all went down to the beach for a BBQ. It's really beautiful here. We stood in the warm shallow water with toes in the soft golden sand as the sun slowly retired over the hills surrounding the calm bay. Waves crashed over by the rocks in the distance and fish jumped out of the water in the evening light. There is still quite a lot of weed and rubbish littering the beaches after the storm, but it is still stunning. There are a surprising number of left shoes scattered along the top of the beach. Will got the fire going and we all brought some food along to share. It was a beautiful night and there was a multitude of stars visible - so many more than at home. I lay on the sand for a while and contemplated my place in the universe. I felt amazingly relaxed after and now finally feel like I have switched into holiday mode.

the black hole

Hi guys, I wrote this yesterday, didn't have such a deep dive today but it felt nice and relaxed.

I've almost been here a week now and still feel like I'm just getting used to it. It's a shame that I only have another two weeks to go. The Blue Hole is pretty amazing and I'd love to stay longer to really be able to relax and get used to deep diving. The jet lag has finally worn off and my body is feeling a lot less stiff than it was when I arrived. It's only the rooster just outside that crows from about 3am and an over active mind that is keeping me awake at night now. I really need to sleep more. I don't feel too tired, but my pulse rate is still quite high after the trip (usually settles down after a week or so of getting a descent amount of sleep). The wind was quite strong yesterday and it created quite a lot of current in the Blue Hole which I think affected my diving quite a lot. I did a CNF dive to 48m. It was about 20s slower than expected and all of that was on my desent. I also had to work quite hard on the ascent, but perhaps was stroking too fast and losing efficiency. I had to do extra strokes from the surface due to the current and my poor entry. The whole dive was a bit panicky and not great.

Today I wanted to experience greater depth and decided to go Free Immersion in an attempt to relax a bit more at depth due to the fact that it wouldn't be such an effort to get off the surface or back up. We set the base plate to 57m. It was a fantastic dive and I still had plenty left when I reached the bottom plate and much more than expected at my return to the surface. I still had a little anxiety at about 45-50m, but managed to relax again and had no issues with equalisation. So, I'm proud to say that I've been deeper without fins than I have with now!

We still only have about 10m vis and it's really dark by about 50m, just getting blacker and blacker as you go down evidently. Hoping for some grat conditions soon! This always happens when I go places to dive!!!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Dean's Blue Hole

I've had a couple of days training in Dean's Blue Hole now. I'm still feeling a bit stiff and tired from the trip so just had a couple of easy sessions checking my buoyacy is all OK (it's almost right now). The hole is a bit dirty due to the combination of a storm in the Atlantic, the wind blowing abnormally from the sou-east, and the full moon making the tides quite high. As you can see there is quite a lot of rubbish that's been blown up on the beach and more in the water. Otherwise the water is amazing: warm and clear, and the sand is golden and soft. Yesterday the filth in the water was circling us while we were training, however today was much better. Apart from being much more buoyant in the salt water, I also noticed that today at about 25m I'd tensed up a little in preparation for the thermocline which I've been assured will never come - something I didn't realise I did. Still plenty of stuff to work on including getting more sleep which is slightly proving difficult due to the rooster located just outside my apartment! I suppose it's not too different to living in an apartment building where the residents make noise and wake you up at all hours on the weekend! Here are a couple of photos. The hole is smaller than I expected - you can see it just behind the sun umbrella, where the water goes to a dark blue colour.


Orlando

Here are some pics from Orlando where I stayed with Rachel. Rachel is digging into her ribs with grat gusto.


Mikey, Rachel and Jeremy's son at brunch.


This is the Blue Springs were the Manatees reside, they obviously were hiding from us or are improving their breath hold times to more than 20 mins. I think they get a bit sedentary during the heat of the day.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

I've arrived!

I finally made it to the destination! The flights were pretty adorous. I managed to sleep a fair amount on the plane from Auckland to LA. LAX is such a crappy airport. The building was pretty bad to begin with but really is not coping with all the new security regulations. I would have imagined that such an important gate to the outside wolrd would have been given a bit more consideration by the Americans. Impression of LA were pretty limited as I only managed to spend a few hours in the airport and we had a bit of cloud cover on departure. The foodcourt was disappointing to say the least, however the sunset was pretty fantastic – one of those sunsets that you can only witness from high in the air, where the horizon is incredibly rounded over the sea and the the sun has just disappeared from view. A strip of bright red set off against the dark blue ocean, gradually fading into orange, yellow and then into the blue sky with blackness over the plane. It felt a bit strange to see the sun going down only a few hours after awaking and having breakfast! We flew over Vegas in the dark. It looks quite small comparatively. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't make out any flashing lights, but you could definitely pick out the great glow of the strip. I had a couple of hours in Denver. Fronier airlines has just built a new terminal there. Nothing really exciting about it. I think the outside was a bit flasher, but I only caught a glimpse of it as we taxied in in the dark. There was only one “restaurant” in the food court open so I was forced against my will to experience true American fast food: McDonalds. I did have a salad, however I'm sure the nutritional value would not have been too dis-similar from a burger. On my fourth leg I tried again to sleep however was placed akwardly in the row of seating directly in front of the emergency exit where the seats did not recline. If you've ever tried sleeping bolt upright you'll realise that it's virtually impossible, even with a neck pillow. So after three hours of snoozing broken by the ding of the seatbelt light, the explanation of the ding over the loud speaker and the incessant sniffing of the man sitting next to me I arrived in Orlando to see the sun rise at about 5:30am. Rachel was there to collect me. She is 7 months pregnant. We drove back to her in-laws' house in Deltona, about an hours drive. We waited for the day to commence and then went for an American breakfast. The name of the restaurant escapes me, but for a mere $7 I was presented with not one but two rather huge plates of food plus a big dish of condiments, which included: bacon, ham, meat pattie, eggs, hash brown casserole, fried apples, a couple of biscuits (scones), grits, and some weird gravy stuff. Bits and pieces were quite nice. I do think that Rachel and I could have shared. We then went on a bit of a drive around and saw the local lake, and landscape. We stopped in at Blue Springs National Park and went seeking Manatees. Unfortunately they were all hiding from us, but we did see an alligator sunning itself on the opposite bank of the river. It was a very pretty walk. If I'd had my wetsuit I probably would have jumped in, but it's 21 degrees so I thought I'd pass at that moment in time, especially after seeing the alligator... We went back to the in-laws'. I couldn't keep my eyes open for the drive back. All three of us, Mikey included had an afternoon nap for a few hours, which I really needed. We then went out to “Bahama Breeze” restaurant for ribs. They were all a bit surprised when I easily polished off my plate full – they had already considered who would get to eat my left-overs the following day after I'd left. No such luck I'm sorry. Rachel and I partook in some virgin cocktails with a true desire to pop a little something more in them. Oh well, they tasted pretty good. I slept pretty well despite the nap and we got up at 6am for another early start back at the airport.
But all went pretty well with my flights until today. I got charged quite a lot as my fin bag was oversized, then they cut my padlocks off my bag. The next airline charged me for being over weight and made me check in my hand luggage, which they also charged me for. I missed a flight, but lucky managed to get on another, but of course had to pay for it again – hopefully my insurance will cover it. Then they forgot to put my fin bag in the aeroplane as had put it aside very conscientiously due to the fragile stickers all over it. Thankfully that was the last flight of the day so I don't have to really co-ordinate anything as they'll bring it through on the first flight tomorrow and I just have to pick it up. I also have all my gear here to do no-fins dives, so it shouldn't affect anything. Now I've arrived and everything is closed as it's still Good Friday so I have to bludge food and water off the other divers. No biggie though. At least I had a good, big local lunch in Nassau. Anyway, I'm off to parler francais with the French boys next door. I have the whole apartment for four to myself for another week until everyone arrives, so I figure I should get lots of work done. Evidently they've had pretty poor weather here and the blue hole is currently more like a black hole with a bit of swell on it, but it should still be warmer than at home! Hopefully it'll clear up in the next few days as the particles settle.