Can’t really believe I started open water freediving in May…usually March is good month to open the season, especially if one has the opportunity to travel to ‘warmer’ destinations.
We chose Thassos again and spent 4 days freediving there, surprised by the low visibility (it was much better at the same time last year). I went without any expectations – my goal being just to have fun. Although I haven’t dived for a few months I felt really good in the water and increased the depth each day – just to see how far I can go comfortably. On the last day I did an easy 40m CWT dive, which felt fantastic. Honestly, I would have gone a bit further if I hadn’t hit the bottom at 40 meters – equalization was OK and I had plenty of air left for coming up. Next time I’ll try 42-45 to see if my ears are fine and then proceed to greater depths – the season has just started, there is a lot of time for ‘deep’ diving…
Here is a short video from Thassos. Cameraman: Ivo Zagorchinov. Enjoy!
One more thing – my Greek friend Dimitrios reminded me today that ‘loving’ apnea is probably the most important factor – how simple and true…Thank you Dimitrios, sometimes we seem to forget the most obvious things!
Here you can find out what I missed by not going to Thassos for the Easter holidays (too much work…) Ivozag – remember that name – I’m sure he’ll become a quite good underwater videographer. Stay tuned for the next video coming in May, featuring Luigi ( my new Glidefin)!
For those of you who wondered why I and other friends go often for freediving in Thassos – check out this video from Ivan Totev (fellow [scuba]diver). Well, it’s not just about the easily accessible depths and being only 350 km from Sofia…
Any clues what’s that creature at 6:40-8:16?
We spent last weekend freediving in Thassos (well, we traveled more than we dived but that’s another story).
This time I focused on the free fall phase and concentration during the dives. I was doing easy 25-30 meters dives and did not attempt to go deeper.
Regarding the freefall – I worked on staying streamlined and relaxed. I still turn a bit sideways, but no so often as before. It’s interesting when I focus on this issue time flies really fast and I reach the targeted depth easily…which points out the importance of being calm and concentrated. I’ve noticed that I am able to do good dives despite not being in great form – and the reason is that I am focused and all other thoughts are either left behind or just disappear after a few deep breaths. So far mental exercises weren’t among my training priorities, but now that I’ve really realized their importance I’ll start doing them on a regular basis (as physical training).
On Sunday I tried diving with my new Paradisia nose clip. Freediving without a mask is a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, but one gets quickly used to it. And I would gladly trade the good vision (with mask) for the opportunity to equalize hands free while using the monofin. It’s ok if you are using a rope…I have to remember that on ascents I’ll have to suck back the expanding air – I can feel it trying to escape through the nose and it’s annoying (I thought that I always do that, but maybe I hadn’t noticed the air escaping from my mask on ascent?). Anyway, I need to use the noseclip more often and try deeper dives (35+meters) when I feel completely comfortable with it. Theoretically, with both arms extended past my head, the better contact with water on my face, and the lack of mask to equalize I could dive deeper…I’ll test that assumption in the next few months.
Finally I made my first 40 meters free dive (constant weight)! Again we dived mainly off the rocks of the monastery in Thassos. We spent 4 days there and everyone made either a personal best or caught some good fishes, so it was just great. Now I have a hard time getting back to work and meeting the tight deadlines… I spend too much time thinking of the great dives and buddies.
In short, how I organized my 4 days of diving – on the first day: some easy dives with hangs at the bottom; second day – serial dives to 25-28 meters with long surface intervals and a lot of swimming on the surface with the buoy, rope and weights…;on the third day I swam a lot to find greater depths and got a bit tired and gave up the idea of doing deeper dives; yesterday before our departure to Sofia we had the chance to use a boat (Big thanks to Ceco!). The day started with some rain and clouds but at noon everything was fine and we cheered up. We found easily 45 meters off the rocks and set up the line. This was the second time we unrolled the whole length of the rope (I’m using my old climbing rope which is about 42 m long). I was diving with Mitko and each of us followed his own warm-up routine. I did several dives to 25 m, some shallower dives,and a few 30+ m. Mitko did a nice dive (pb) despite the noise of the ship passing nearby. Then it was my turn to dive. I felt relaxed, but my legs were tired from the previous days…still I knew I could dive to 40 meters and come up fresh. Again I managed to calm down and visualize the whole dive in a positive manner.
After the duck dive, I kicked a bit too hard and I heard the alarm at 30m a bit sooner than usual; equalization was fine, at 35 m I looked at my divewatch, closed my eyes and reached the 40 m mark. I felt I could’ve gone deeper and hit the bottom, but these depths are unexplored for me and I’d better proceed gradually and gain more experience in the 35+ to 40 range. I felt okay during the ascent, Mitko again was waiting for me at 10 m and I surfaced still fresh and smiling – my new pb – 40 m. The whole dive took 1:20 which is a bit fast, but I’ll reduce the weights on the belt next time – 3,6 kg are more than enough for 7mm trousers and a 5mm jacket. The dive felt good despite my tired legs, and it seems that I’ve learned to relax and concentrate better than before. Also, setting some specific goals for each training/diving session works great because it reminds me why I’m there and helps me focus on the task. I think it’s crucial to define for myself what I want to achieve/experience in freediving and just make and enjoy the necessary steps…
Finally I have the time to write about our last freediving trip to Thassos. As I mentioned in earlier post, last Saturday was supposed to be a ‘max static’ day, but we headed for Greece again…The drive is a bit long but it’s definitely worth it.
On the first day we dived near Pothos, setting the line at 30-32 meters. I was a bit tired and did some 30m dives without pushing too much and staying at the bottom. I wanted to be fresh for the next day and attempt 35+ meters…
Well, on Sunday I hadn’t done any dives deeper than 25m for two reasons. First, we enetered the water from a nice beach, but we had to swim 30 minutes just to find 25m, the 35-40 m depth was not close at all, especially when we had to drag the buoy with weight and rope…And second, my buddy Di had some equalization problems and was not able to dive comfortably and wait for me at 10 m after a deeper dive. As a responsible person, I decided to dive deeper next time (in two weeks maybe) and do practice dives to 25m. I’m used to this kind of situatons when you have to do practice dives (shallower) instead of a performance dive…safety comes first.
Otherwise I felt great. I used a 5mm Cressi Technica vest and my 7mm (tailor made) trousers from Elios (and fewer weights). Equalization was fine, with some minor problems but I still couldn’t dive with both arms extented past my head…Hands free equalizing is one of the tricks that I have to learn to enjoy better freediving with the monofin… Later on that day I entered the water with my camera (wearing bifins) and took some macro pictures of small fishes and other creatures whose names I don’t know. When I have the time I’ll process and upload some of them in the gallery.
P.S I’ve just read that Stephan Mifsud did a 11:35 static (new world record)! Simply amazing! Well, I’m not even halfway there…
I had not planned another freediving trip this month, but when Ceco and Mitko suggested going to Thassos I didn’t hesitate too much. We arrived on Thursday and spent 3 days on the island. The other guys knew the good places and we had the chance to visit them with the boat.
We arrived on Thursday in the afternoon and immediately went into the water. I dived with Mitko at shallower dephts, exploring the marine life. The visibility was good but I didn’t take any pictures…just made some videos of Mitko passing through an arch and doing funny things while surfacing. Mitko had not slept well the previous night and went to the shore with the camera…Half an hour later, when I headed for the shore I noticed a small octopus on the sandy bottom. As I touched him, he tried to escape and released lots of ink, but I managed to catch him gently and bring it to the shore (my camera was there). We took some pictures and returned the octopus to the sea – he was very scared by that time. I’ll remember this encounter because it was the first time I managed to take pictures of these creatures .
On the other day we visited a few dive sites with the boat. Again I was diving with Mitko but this time we set up a line and did some repetitive dives. After a short warm-up I did several 30 m CW dives and then went to the bottom at 33 m – that was a new personal best for me. The dive felt great – I was relaxed, equalizing easily and freefalling straight down the rope. I felt that if I had not hit the bottom I could have gone deeper, but I was pleased with 33 meters and decided to try 35 m on the next day.
On Saturday we went to a small island, but there were some currents and we moved to another site where we saw a lot of fish. It wasn’t deep enough to set up a line for constant weight dives, so I just tried to relax and equalize with the techniques that I’d been learning recently. I also did several dives to 15-17 m withought a weighbelt – a good exercise for practicing the duck dive (wearing a full 7 mm wetsuit with thick socks and gloves). Later we went to the rocks near the monastery and finally set up the line for constant weight dives. After several dives I tried 35 meters . I went down, equlizing easily, at 25 m I felt the thermocline, then heard the dive alarm at 30 and soon I even passed the end of the rope. I looked at my divewatch and saw 35.8 m – a new personal best! I headed up and felt relaxed – at 10 m my buddy was waiting for me – and I surfaced feeling great, with more air in me. I was happy not because of the PB, but of the whole dive – it was one of the greatest dives I’ve ever made! Big thanks to Mitko – he was safetying me (perfect timing!) in a way that made me feel more relaxed. I’m sure that I’ll reach 40 meters soon – I even thought about doing that on the same day, but it’s better to progress gradually and focus on feeling good.
So, in June I’ll do more dives below 30 meters and if I have the chance to dive more often – I’ll attempt 40 m. After the last few days of diving, I’m convinced I can do that…