Lubomir Stefanoff | freediving and UW photography

Dry statics

by on Jun.05, 2009, under Training

I haven’t had a lot of time for training this week, so I decided to do dry CO2 tables 3 times. Well, I don’t like them at all but there is some value in doing them…especially if you cut down the rest intervals and don’t cheat with hyperventilating. Typically I do a few warm up breath holds an then I start the following table:
2:30 hold – 1:30 rest
2:30 hold – 1:15 rest
2:30 hold – 1:00 rest
2:30 hold – 0:45 rest
2:30 hold – 0:30 rest
2:30 hold – 0:15 rest
2:30 hold – 0:15 rest
I feel OK in general after the last breath hold – I am getting used to the contractions. On Wednesday and today I rested for 5-10 minutes after doing the table and attempted longer apneas – I did several around the 5 minute mark, but did not enjoy them much. I’d planned a max attempt in the swimming pool for tomorrow, but we are going to the Aegean sea (Thassos again) for 2 days of freediving so the max attempt will be on next Saturday. I’ll try 40 meters in constant weight if I feel ok, otherwise I’ll do other drills and take lots of pictures with my G9.

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First time to Thassos and new PB

by on May.25, 2009, under Freediving

Mitko with octopusI 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…OctopusHalf 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…

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Monofin technique

by on May.19, 2009, under DYN

On Sunday when I was going to try a longer dynamic apnea I decided to count the kicks per 25 meters. I made 18-20 kicks per length (50 m) which is not good at all. I am kicking too much without enough gliding, and that wastes a lot of O2…Today I was alone at the pool and didn’t train in the usual manner – (50m with 1:15 intervals, sprints, longer apneas, etc). I made some very slow dynamic apneas (40-50m in 55-1:15 seconds) and focused on the glide and the number of kicks. I found out that with only 1 kg neck weight the glide is reduced significantly – I was just going up and had to push on my lungs to stay close to the bottom and maintain a streamlined position. A few days ago I tried a 2.1 kg neck weight and I was slightly positively buoyant at 2m (close to the bottom of the pool), but it was much better. So now I have to build my own 2,5 kg neck weight a see if there is a significant decrease in the number of kicks per 25 m. I’ve watched many videos on Youtube and people seem to kick and glide so efficiently…From now on, every time I train with the monofin I’ll count my kicks and hopefully I’ll reduce them to 6-7 per 25m. Next weekend we are going to make some videos at the pool – video footage is a great way to see the mistakes you make from another perspective. I’ll post some pictures and videos. Your criticism and feedback  in general will be greatly appreciated.

Regarding the max attempts – on Sunday I tried to do 90-100 m dynamic, but again came out early and still fresh at 80 meters. I’m getting used to the contractions but it takes some time. I looked on internet for exercises that train the body (and mostly the mind) to tolerate more contractions. Crazy table done on a stationary bike seems a good option for me but I’ll do more research on what others say about it. DeeperBlue forums offer great information :-)

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Training in the pool

by on May.12, 2009, under DYN, Training

Now that I finished the basic preparation, I won’t spend much time training out of the water (running and cardio in the gym). I don’t think I’ll have the chance to go freediving again this month, so my training will be mostly in the pool (3 times a week) +some  dry CO2 tables. Here is how my typical work out in the pool look like:

10 x 50 m with the monofin, 1:30 rest

10 x 25 m sprints underwater, 1:00 rest

500 m monofin swimming – 25m underatwer/25 m on the surface (active recovery)

After that I usually spend 15-20 minutes doing some monofin drills – swimming on the sides and back, focusing on the knees (as I saw from a recent video footage I bend them too much).

After today’s session I thought for a while about the benefits of this kind of training. To be honest, I think I’m not training hard enough. I can swim easily 50 meters DYN with the monofin with those 1:30 rest and I don’t feel tired at the end of the workout. It’s high time to start doing either more meters or decrease the rest intrevals (I’ll try 1 minute rest on Thursday to see how I feel). After all, the body needs to get stressed to achive a good training effect. I haven’t done long dynamic apneas recently and last time I tried to pass 75 m I just didn’t want to suffer the contractions and came out early exactly at 75 m. Staying in the comfort zone won’t yield good results. Doing longer distances regularly (including max attempts) will help me get used to contractions and finally make the 100 m swim (I’m sure I can do that, just need some time to prepare mentally). From now on I’ll do one max attempt every week both in static and in dynamic…hope to see results in the near future. I haven’t done much wet staics either cause I usually  wear a 2.5 mm shorty wetsuit and get cold pretty soon, so maybe going to the pool with full suit on Saturdays is a good idea – I won’t be the only one with a spearfishing suit in the water – probably Mitko and Vov will be there too…

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Freediving in Gokceada

by on May.07, 2009, under Freediving, Training

In the beginning of May I had the chance to  visit the Turkish island Gokceada for a few days. I trained at shallower depths there although I’d planned to do deeper dives (30+ meters) in constant weight.

Gokceada is not the perfect place for freediving, but we opted for it over Halkidiki (Greece) because Ivan (a friend of mine) wanted to go spearfishing and in May spearfishing is not allowed in Greece. I don’t like Gokceada as much as the Greek coast because of the wind and the reduced visibility due to the sandy bottom.  Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun there. We stayed in the South-western part of the island and used a boat to get further from the shore to find depths of 20+ m. In the beginning I was pissed off because I was not going to do deep dives but soon I decided to focus on technique rather than depth and found out that it’s very beneficial to concentrate on only one thing during the dives- i.e. equalization and position of the head, duck dive, finning technique, free falling, etc. During the last two days I worked mostly on the free fall phase of the dive.  When I started diving along a weighted rope I noticed that my body tends to go a bit sideways when I stop finning (which affects my concentration). So I did many repetitive dives and tried to stay streamlined and sink vertically. Now that I can do it in a better way I enjoy the free fall even more! Next time I hope to use the Frenzel maneuver for equalizing the ears (I’m doing the exercises on a regular basis and will test this technique first in the pool).

Regarding the underwater pictures – I did try to take macros of some interesting fishes but the shots are far from great and I’ll keep them on my computer :-) .

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Trip to Halkidiki, Greece

by on Apr.23, 2009, under Freediving

It’s been over a month since I last went freediving, so when the Easter holiday came, we decided to head up for Halkidiki, Greece (it’s less than 400 km from Sofia). We spent 3 nice days there.

Since I was training mainly in the pool (and some gym sessions) I had to approach depth carefully, especially during the first two days. Luckily I had a dive buddy and a rope this time. On the first day I did some easy 20 m dives and played around with my underwater camera. Equalization was OK, obviously the exercises that I’ve been doing lately are worth the time. But still, I cannot equalise hands free and this compromises to a great extent my monofinning technique while going down :-( .

On the second and third day I felt confident and did several 30 m dives that felt great. This actually is close to my PB in constant weight – since I was novice and diving alone most of the time during last season, I was extremely cautious  and had never pushed myself to the limit.  Last October I was going easily to 25+ m and I knew that I can make 30+  meters when a dive buddy is around. So, I just went down the rope and did it – relaxed and confident. Di, my buddy, couldn’t equalize well, so I ended the ‘deep’ dives and again went to shallow depths with my camera. I tried hard to get an octopus out of his den and capture it on picture, but he was very shy (and scared of my rather rude interference) and stayed there.  I have to rethink my strategy of getting close to those creatures :-) .

Now I am training in the pool and looking forward to the 6 days of holidays in the beginning of May. Probably we’ll be heading for Gokceada (a Turkish island in the Aegean). I have to work on my equalization technique till then, cause I would like to attempt (gradually of course)  35 m. At this depth (35-40m) free divers often run out of air to equalize with, so more sophisticated techniques than the Valsalva are needed.At 32 m I felt that I have more air to equalise, even with my crappy technique (though I’m not 100% sure  what I’m doing is pure Valsalva).

I’ll keep you updated about my progress and experiences. And I promise to upload some nice pics and videos, too.

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