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


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:

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.


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.