Freediving with world champions
Us Marine Biologists at Soneva spend quite a bit of time snorkelling and introducing our guests to the wonder of the sea. We use our excursions almost as a museal tour, diving down and pointing out the most interesting creatures to explain what they are and what their role in the reef is. Continuously going up and down requires a bit of training in breath-holding and freediving.
Last week we had the honour to improve our freediving technique by learning a few skills with Alexey Molchanov, who holds the world record for freediving with the deepest monofin-dive to 129 meters, and Ken Kiriyama our resident instructor at Soneva Fushi.
The class began with breathing exercises with Ken, to teach us the concept of relaxation by paying close attention to inhaling and exhaling. At first it was just the basic slow inhales and exhales, then the exercise changed to momentarily breath holds. The longer we did the exercise, the more relaxed were and the breath holds became less noticeable. The aim was to introduce us to the relax state that we should have while freediving, but in a more controlled environment. Who would ever think that even breathing, the most natural thing we do everyday, could require so much training and bring so many benefits?!
Alexey then joined and began showing us two different methods for equalising: valsalva and frenzle, the latter being the technique that requires less energy and air, and in consequence allows freedivers to achieve deeper dives. He also showed different “dry” exercises (which can be done on land), that can help gradually increase our breath-hold time. These exercises ranged from walking a certain amount of steps during and inhale/exhale/breath-hold, to doing breath-holds while still lying in bed.
When we got in the water we practiced equalising, breath-holds, and relaxation as we took turns going down the line by either finning down or pulling down. Alexey and Ken followed us down and observed our posture, technique and how relaxed we were, and as soon as we surfaced they gave us feedback on how to improve.
This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience where we learned from one of the best in the world, and for some of us it was an introduction of a new hobby/sport. And it’s not finished here, as Umberto Pelizzari will visit us between the 20th and 27th February and both Dayanne and I are already counting the days!
Federica and Dayanne
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