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


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.