Last week I joined a static freediving introduction, given by Nanja van den Broek from Enker. Nanja holds some Dutch records in different freediving disciplines and likes to teach others in this strange and small sport.The goal is to stay under water for as long as you can, without any air support like normal divers use. Static freediving is just laying face down in the pool as relaxed as possible for as long as possible. The dynamic parts focus on either swimming as deep as possible (with or without weigths and/or lines) or swimming as far as possible with mono or dual vins. So far for the background on this sport 😉
But heay, you are a kayakker, why go freediving?
A couple of weeks ago while surfing, it’s currently already a month of flatness here , I capsized and stayed what seemed like a long time under while waiting for the wave to relax a bit, so I could roll up again. Not sure how long it took (probably just 10-15 seconds) but it seemed a long time. As our limit for the waves we kayak on gets higher and higher, this will probably happen more frequently. Maybe it’s wise to learn something about it.
Fortunately Walter from Kanorijnland had organised a static freediving introduction, which seemed like a nice way to get some more perspective on staying under water without air and how your body and mind reacts to this situation. Together with Gerrit and Fijs from the surfkayaking club, I decided to join to learn more about it.
After an hour of theory on the art of freediving, the different disciplines and how it works (especially the breathing part and the mental part), it was time to get in the water. Everybody had to estimate their start-times at the beginning of the introduction and would get three sessions to improve on those times. However, you didn’t hear your time in between and it was no competition, being relaxed under water was more important. As I had no clue, I gave an estimate of 30 seconds, while my buddy’s estimate was more than 2:30 minutes.
After getting enough air with my eyes closed I floated in the pool for 5 seconds, got scared and decided to go back up. After setting some swimglasses on and keeping my eyes open, I tried again. This time I faired a bit better, I got to around a minute and some seconds before my mental state urged me to get some air. After getting the air you realise you could take more time under water, because you didn’t really need the air just yet. It’s just a buildup of CO2 that alerts you, but you have more time before you run out of O2. If you handle this mentally, you can stay far longer under than you imagine beforehand. The next 2 sessions went better and the first half of the session got more relaxed, while the second half was more about fighting the urge to get air.
My buddy had a far longer time under water and was really relaxed. After 3 rounds he almost made the 5 minute mark. Impressive! I got to 2:08, which was more than I had imagined beforehand. I was not that relaxed under water however, so I will go again someday and see if I can improve on the relaxation, the time was fine.
So, is this useful if you are a kayaker?
Yeah, I think it is. Especially for whitewater, freestyle and surf kayakers when you experience some under water time. It makes you realise you have more time than you think and because you stay calmer and relaxt, the chances of rolling up are greater.
Should you train this on your own?
Nope! People die when trying this on their own, as you can’t breathe under water and if your on the edge timewise, you can pass out. Please make sure you get a proper training and you have a buddy when trying this! (which for me is the same motto as for whitewater and surfkayaking). Doing it with a group is also more fun.
Thanks to Nanja for the training and Walter for organising it!