Sunday, 26 April 2009

Fred & Jana

me, Alex, Herbie, Linden

Megumi, Leo, Tomoko, Ryuzo

Walter & the Kiwis: Kerian, Joy, me, William

me & Liv

Happy & Rob

Herbert, Mads, Walid

Simon, me, Linden, David

Judge Mermaid Linden:


I had a wonderful time in the Bahamas, met some beautiful people and learned a lot. I was generally disappointed by the loss of training time firstly due to the unfortunate squeeze event, then the tiny, nagging sinus issue that I feel I would have hardly noticed should I not been diving. But the Bahamas is a beautiful place and once I sat back and started relaxing and breaking down the social/geographical barriers between the two different accomodation locations, it was pretty enjoyable. I was anticipating going deeper than 52m but with the limited number of deep dives I managed to complete it was problematic to keep pushing. I still have no issues with equalisation (when healthy), so am keen to see how I go later in the year when I will finally have time on my hands to train at depth.

I will put up some photos of the people.

Vertical Blue 09 part two

We're now two thirds of the way through the competition days. I managed another two secessful dives and aborted one after my nose clip leaked excess quantities of air during the duck dive. Sometimes it leaks and I just deal with it as it goes away once I get to freefall and start my mouthful equalisation (as it is a lot less forced), but this was a lot more than usual. I'm quite annoyed with the whole nose clip situation – they seem to be only designed for large noses. I always have to tighten them as far as they go and they often still leak.

Sucessful dive number one was 49m and number two 52m. Both were constant weight without fins. As I have concluded that I do not have enough time to work on anything else and I did not bring my fin anyway.

I have been struggling with a few psychological issues that have been nagging away in the back of my mind. Firstly there was the lung squeeze, however I feel this has cleared up. I'm now more sensitive to the feeling of fluid in my lungs after a dive and while there has been a little it seems to be less after every dive now, to a point where I am confident it will not happen again on this trip. Secondly there is the inexperience issue and the fact that I feel a bit panicky at depth. I have been working essentially solely on this. All my concentration on dives is focussed around staying relaxed and avoiding having contractions to the point where I am letting go of other important aspects of my dives. On the 49m dive I was counting my strokes off the surface but completely forgot to pay attention and did three more than usual. I think that to go deeper I am going to have to start to pay attention to some of the technique issues. I've decided that I am not going to be scared of depth any more, so we'll see if I can control this powerful tool that is the mind. The third issue is the basic fear of blacking out, however we have such a great crew of safety divers that this too is completely irrational.

Sorry I didn't get around to publishing this one earlier guys!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Under water photos

Thanks to Simon & Hyde for taking some nice pics of me.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Vertical Blue 09, Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas

The competition is now well under way. We concluded the first three day round and are currently having a rest day. I sat out the first day opting instead to train the day prior to get another (3rd) training session in before competing.

On day two I nominated 47m constant weight without fins. I didn't sleep well the night before and was in a bit of a poor psychological and physical state on waking which I did not manage to overcome. I overheated prior to my dive and did not allow myself enough time on the platform to relax. Negative thoughts plagued me up to and during the dive and I turned early at 40m. My main focus here in the Bahamas is to try to remain relaxed at depth and I was anything but, so I decided to turn back. I think it was a good decision rather than pushing myself and potentially experiencing a further set back.

On day three I nominated 46m as in some crazy psychological way I felt much more comfortable with this. I put my wetsuit on early as I had run into troubles the day before due to the fact that I was hot and sticky and the wetsuit took a lot longer than usual to get myself into. I arrived at the platform about 20 mins prior to my dive to ensure I had plenty of time to find a good head space and relax. The competition no longer got to me and the dive was pretty good and relaxed however safety diver Simon said I still carried the old panicky expression on my face. There is still plenty to work on and I feel a bit slow but apart from pushing the streamlining I really do not want to speed up any further. The dive was a little under 2 minutes. There were no difficulties on the return swim and I feel quite nicely weighted being neutral around 15m. The duck dives have been worrying me as I seem to use up so much energy trying to leave the surface, but I have decided to just relax and go with whatever happens now as hopefully this will help to decrease the stress during my dive and allow me to push out dive times and depths further.

Here are some photos care of Judge Grant:

Dean's Blue Hole is now fairly pristine. There was plenty of light at depth (for me) and the weed has mostly cleared away. The wind and tide (and possibly the numerous divers hanging around the hole) still stir up a little sand and seem to reduce the visibility as the competition progresses each day. I have been for some very pleasant afternoon cool off swims at the hole and I feel this is when the hole is at it's most beautiful.

For more information on the Vertical Blue Invitational 09 competition, please go to and look in the news section. There are some great photos of divers by Fred Buyle on there, some that give you a real sense of the deep space.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The end of training days

Today was the last training day. I managed to lose an entire week with firstly the lung squeeze and then a blockage in my left sinus. The sinus still is not perfect but it allows me one dive prior to blocking up and creating an enormous pressure bubble under my left check. I have a variety of drugs that people keep pushing in my direction, and they seem to be slowly working, or it is just clearing up regardless. The main concern is that it forces me to equalise a lot more regularly than I usually would creating another level of discomfort. I did manage a few dives to check my buoyancy at 15m (it was perfectly neutral there fortunately with my massive 3.5kg neck weight) and practise duck dives, but I have a long way to go in my seven remaining dives.

I have managed three sucessful dives over the last three training days, starting at 32m and building up 5m at a time. In comparison to last year it is so easy. The massive tension (panic) at depth has gone and I am finally finding a relaxed state of mind and body allowing me to remain much more in control of my dives. I am hoping this stays with me as the dives become deeper. I feel I have become stronger and more efficient from doing some sprint work in training. The duck dives no longer feel like they take so much out of me that I don't know how I manage to continue. As usual, I just wish I had more time to adapt to and deal with the remaining technique and psychological issues. I am certain that I have plenty more in me, but don't want to do anything stupid that pushes me back further or discourages me from future deep freediving experiences.

Did I mention that the hole cleared up yesterday and was absolutely stunning for a brief moment?

What a contrast to only a couple of days earlier!