Saturday, 28 March 2009


Thursday, 26 March 2009


Training day one gave me a great shock.

I felt fine in the morning. My body was not as stiff as I would generally expect after the flights and I had finally eaten and slept fairly well. I still had a slight sore throat from the dry aeroplane air but had consumed a great deal of water.

I started on my goal of relaxing at depth. We set the line to 45m. I planned to do a calm, slow free immersion dive and see how it felt. I took my full breath and left the surface. My neck weight immediately struck my nose clip, knocking it from my face. I held the rope and calmly replaced it, continuing to pull myself downward. I wore little lead, knowing that I could control my ascent and descent with the rope and just taking things easily focussing on relaxing above everything else. I pulled downwards. The dive felt good. I was calm with only one quick moment of negative thoughts on the descent. There were no issues with equalisation and my mouthfill was working fine. It became dark before 40m. I felt a large amount of tape on the rope, thinking it was the markings two meters from the base plate I turned reaching downwards in the attempt to practice a good turn and tap the base plate. I never felt it, but decided to go back. I was buoyant from about 30m on the ascent, and spread my arms to slow myself. The dive was a little under 3 minutes and felt great despite poor technique. The speed was slow but consistent throughout. I surfaced with a lot left in me and feeling great. I took a few hook breaths and completed my surface protocol then started coughing up blood. Large amounts of blood. I couldn't stop. Then I felt like vomiting too as I gagged on the blood. It was hard to breathe and everything was an effort.

Dr Frank was on the platform and did not seem too worried. Megumi swam me and all my stuff back to shore and I breathed oxygen for about 25 mins. By this time I could breathe normally without having to cough. Walking back to the car made me tired. My heart was racing and I could not breathe well. I was wheezing with every breath. Back at the accomodation Mads had a pulseoximeter. My pulse was high (just over 100) and my O2 saturation was low (mid-80s). Herbert called his doctor and I was recommended to breathe pure oxygen, drink a lot of water, rest, be careful while sleeping (or avoid it) to ensure I didn't drown in the fluid in my lungs, take antibiotics, anti-mucous pills, and something else that Sara had in her bag of medicines and kindly shared with me. Luckily within about 4 hours of the accident the wheezing cleared up, my pulse was back down and my O2 saturation was back up to about 96-97%. I had a good feed and went to bed. In the morning my lungs were a little tender on a deep breath but not really ever sore. I was advised to take two days off, and didn't attempt to take any big inhales in that time. By the third day I could fully pack and my lungs felt fine.

This was my first and hopefully last lung squeeze. As freedivers most of us have spat a little blood before, but this was much more scarey as there was a large quantity. We have speculated the causes: pushing too hard too soon (although I think back and wonder why it did not happen earlier if this is the reason - the dive did not feel particularly challenging), not enough recent experience, diving without warm up so suffering larger contractions at depth (however this would surely require my residual volume to have substantially increased over the past year, which is potentially conceivable), fatigue, dehydration, etc. The main issue I have in my mind is that the dive felt good and was not hurried at all. An interesting one was put to me today that it could be some kind reverse squeeze due the dried out nature of my lungs post air travel. It seems feasible and I guess we'll never know. It could have just been the combination of a variety of small things.

I really do not want to go back to doing dives with warm ups and having to wear a thicker wetsuit and more weights. My head goes cloudy towards the end of dives with any kind of additional breathing prior to diving increasing the the chance of black out and I always feel the cold if I am in the water without moving much. I guess I will have to work on that relaxation and staying control of any contractions instead, and start a bit shallower next time.

Today was my first day back in the water. I have sinus issues on the left side, probably the residue of my air travel. It has improved over the course of the day and I am hoping that by tomorrow I will be back to normal and starting to ease slowly into some deeper dives.

The Hole

After a little over 38 hours of travelling, I finally arrived at Deadman's Cay, Long Island, the Bahamas. I was absolutely shattered after stunted sleep and poor eating. Unfortunately no one thought to come and pick me up from the airport, but I found Joyce (Charlie's wife), who I recognised from last year (and she was helpful in wearing a Vertical Blue t-shirt) and pleaded for a lift (actually from her friends), which they kindly consented to, so no real dramas (thanks Joyce!). I even managed to escape for a few hours from the horrid LAX international airport with some friends of my flatmate who I crashed into in Auckland when their earlier flight to LA was delayed by about three hours. They had a rental car and we had a look at some of the beaches and had some dinner (our lunch) in Santa Monica. I'm still constantly surprised about the lack of airport security in the US for those in transit. Americans are strange in many ways...

I feel I'm a little jinxed. Whenever I go anywhere to dive I seem to attract poor weather. This trip seems to be no different. I have little recollection of the last flight as I fell in and out of slumber but I did notice the strong winds as we came in to land and the mini plane was dipping sideways offering views over the island alternating with rapidly moving fluffy clouds on a blue backdrop. I was awakened by a strong urge to try to catch a glimpse of the blue hole from above. Unfortunately I was seated on the wrong side of the plane to have any remote hope.

Upon arrival I was rushed off to Dean's Blue Hole with other divers staying at Ellen's Inn. A quick swim and a few shallow dives in my togs and mask refreshed me and reminded me a lot of last year's arrival. The wind is strong and the sand blasts at your legs while you dress. The hole is once again full of weed (however there seems to be much less plastic). The weed is not isolated on the surface but hangs in the water to great depth, suspended in waiting for the unsuspecting diver to swim through or grab onto their lanyard or fin. With the weed comes and unexpectedly pleasant surprise. There is much more fish life around this year. I have already seen sizable fish swimming near the line and the little shrimps and crabs in the weed were noted after they fell on me during a quick weed ball fight (think snow-balls). There was a strong current on the surface as the water dragged in by the oversized breakers barely visible just around the corner in the open sea pushed the surface water around the hole. The visibility was once again missing. On my first day a mere five meters and dark. The “blue” hole was once again clouded by floating particles and posing more as a black hole, sucking our spirits away. To top things off, it is colder than last year. At about 22 degrees I can only hope that it does not become colder on the descent. I packed my wetsuit but not with the intent of wearing it. He first day was beautiful and refreshing, but the novelty will wear thin with time. On sunny days the temperature increases slightly, but we need more than an hour at a time.

But there is hope, the forecast is due to improve in the coming week and each day the hole changes. Today I could see the side of the hole while diving. Rather than the fear of crashing I felt last year with no experience of visibility, I enjoyed seeing those walls again, a sign that I am finally beginning to relax at depth.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Preparing for the Bahamas

My preparation for the Bahamas trip has been a bit of a debarcle once again.

Dive Camp was great. The Lazy Seals booked a bach by Lake Taupo for 9 days in early January. About half a dozen of us dived every day and learned new skills from each other. The weather held up for us; the sun shone and the lake was calm. I do tend to panic a bit at depth and have decided that this is something I really need to work through this year as if I am going to achieve great depths I want to be fairly comfortable down there. To this point I have been relying on pure determination and the fact that I have a good breath hold. I have not yet had any troubles with equalisation or felt a great deal of pressure on my chest. My focus was on relaxing at depth, not on achieving any great depth or worrying too much about technique or fancy equipment. I did a few nice slow dives with hangs at -40m just with mask, snorkle and bi-fins, and quite a few -20m dives safetying others. It was becoming more comfortable. It was intended to be a good warm up for the summer.

Since then I've managed a couple of dives in the Wellington harbour which is limited to -15m. The weather and lack of enough buddies to keep it safe has been working against me once again this summer.

I have been doing a lot of dry lung stretching and simulation of depth as well as I can in the pool; A lot of negatives and some sprints. I have figured out that my sense of panic at depth stems from a few areas that I have been focussing in on as best I can:

  • inexperience – this is problematic when you don't have suitable dive sites or buddies or enough time off work.
  • inability to relax while moving rapidly/sprinting – after years of pool work I can easily relax when everything is slow and consistent, but have found that as soon as I speed it up I become tense. I have been doing some dynamic sprint work to teach myself to relax, not contract and maintain consistency at the pace I have to use to overcome the buoyancy issues related to deep diving.
  • Generally not feeling like I have enough air in my lungs created by the pressure at depth – I have been doing some FRC and negative dynamics in the pool, closely monitored by my buddies of course. My focus during these was again on relaxing, keeping a consistent stroke and not having contractions.

Apart from this, I felt like my general fitness was getting back to where it should be, and I was starting to achieve in my long dynamics again.

I guess time will tell if these simulations are actually helpful or not.


I'm just finishing up my first round of remote coaching, mainly focussing on DNF, with a couple of Scandinavian guys who have been a pleasure to work with. I'm quite sad to not be continuing on with them. It has been going pretty well, and I realised that I do have a lot of knowledge and experience now that I can pass on and help others with. I've quite enjoyed the sense of purpose it gives me and I'm looking forward to seeing their ENORMOUS improvements over the coming months (no pressure guys!!! ;) )!!!

Please send me an email or respond to this post with your details (I won't publish it) if you're keen to find out more. I have a couple of spaces available again now and am keen to keep it going.


Well, it's been a long time since I found the time or energy to post anything here and before launching into the current circumstances I'd like to go over some of the highlights from 2008.

2008 was a really great year for me. I always expected it would be as 2007 was such a let down, and I had learned and changed a lot of things in my training and general dive preparation, plus my lungs had significanly expanded from the previous year.

Apart from all the national records some highlights were:
- a three week trip to the Bahamas where I could work on some depth training
- a sucessful world record attempt in a local pool competition (although I think being published in the Guiness Book will be more exciting – just have to hold it for another month or so, and apologies in advance for the unimaginative Christmas presents if I do make it in!!!)
- being voted by my peers as”world's best female freediver, 2008” (thanks for the support guys!)
- learning more about myself and what drives me
- discovering that there's really no limits as to what we are capable of - I keep happily surprising myself!