Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeFreedivingDay 24 - Last day of training

Day 24 – Last day of training

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In association with Performance FreeDiving International

Today started like others, the smell of Mandy cooking cream of wheat, something that our stomachs can absorb before we hit the water. Martin goes one step farther, baby food is what he eats, and I am rapidly becoming a fan. Today I can’t resist Mandy’s since she has spiked it with the "good fat" walnuts. We check on Martin and he still is hurting from his back pain. I explain as best I can that a Chiropractor should help, being a Medical Doctor helps Martin see the light. He agrees to see a local doctor. He swallows another Motrin and we say goodby.

We collect our half awake safety divers including Tom Lightfoot, whom I am glad to see. I do worry about Kirk getting tired, no easy job up and down 40 meters 50 meters day after day. They kid me about my "aquatic rhino" body, but I keep wondering if gazelles can carry a rhino to the surface. Hearing Tom is the man you want with Kirk as safety makes me feel secure. Especially with the thought that one day I might need help to the surface. The winds are about 15 knots but tolerable. We meet the boat at the West Dock and off we go. Within minutes we are moored.

One look down and all is not well. The lines off the buoy are streaming. The current is ripping. Mandy says she is tired, which I read as a sign. Our state of mind is everything. Mandy has hit 50 meters on constant ballast no fins a couple of days ago. The current world record is 42 so I think she won’t push it today. Not in these conditions. Mandy is suiting up, which is my signal to start 5 minutes behind her. We both start our warm ups, hanging on the line, and doing negative pressure dives. I used to hate negative pressure dives, but after a call with Martin 3 months ago, he confirned he did not like them either; now I really like them. I did them every day at home. With a safety of course. Soon Mandy leaves our warm up line and I am alone. I do a negative pressure and slide down the line. Being negatively buoyant, having exhaled all my air I am falling down the line like a lead balloon. All the focus is on my equalizing. Bamm- I hit the bottom plate and think, wow, that was something and make a quick turn at 20 meters and head for the surface. Negative pressure dives should last no longer than 10 seconds and I have overstayed my welcome. On the way up I see that Mandy is on her way up and I look for the tell tale sign if she grabs the line. She does, after I ask what happened? The current was so strong that she kept hitting her lanyard as she stroked her arms. The last straw was when the current pulled her body away hard from the safety line that the clip hooked on the tape and jerked her. She turns at 30 meters and calls it a day. I am up next and I get a tow to the sled to maintain my low heart rate.

I start my purge and then do 30 quick packs, my mind drifts and then I pull it back. Relax, one more pack, settle down, relax, and pull the cord. Down I go trying to not get behind in equalizations. I have one thing on my mind, let the water crush my chest. Do not fight it, submit. I feel the familiar weight on my chest telling me I am at least 150 ft deep. I reach for one or two more balls of air and then equalize to the bottom. Clunk, I hit and start my ascent. I hear my bottom diver Spencer yelling, "yea Doc go, I am hungry". he is referring to the fact I buy dinner when I hit a new personal best. I pull on the line but do not like it. The current is so strong it is pulling me away from the line on each pulll. I have to kick more sideways than up. I kick to close the distance, but am getting tired. Where is Kirk? Just then I am glad to see his familiar mug and three fingers telling me I am at 100 ft. I give him my version of playing a guitar, letting him know I hit bottom. He makes a fist showing his coaches approval. He gives me the pointed finger telling me to move to the left so I do not hit the boat. I break the surface with air to spare, just like always. I give the ok sign and he makes me take off my mask. I am so alert I think it is silly but he is the coach, so I do it. The depth was 59 meters / 193 ft. I have exceeded my age in meters which makes me happy. I can hear Martin’s come back now, "Hey doc, see that attractive nurse? she can give you baby food like me in the morning and put your food in a blender at night". (ha ha)

Stephan Whelan
Stephan Whelan
Stephan is the Founder of His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans. In 1996 he set up and has grown the site to be the most popular diving website and community in the world.