There was a huge storm the night before and so it had been very difficult to sleep. That coupled with the curry the night before made me worry that the next morning as we lay on the yoga mats I would fall asleep. MT was taking us through visualisations and a guided meditation concentrating on the breath. I was amazed that I didn’t nod off but came out of it feeling refreshed and calm.
In the water we went to the re-installed 18 meter line and after our warm ups we practiced techniques we might need if we or any other diver got into trouble. How to get rid of cramp, taking a fin off at depth and then finning back with one to simulate a broken fin, taking off and putting on weight belts in water, rescuing someone from depth and learning how to deal with them on the surface. It was exhausting and when I had rescued MT very badly and far too slowly, I got cramped. ‘She would have been dead by now!’ said Aharon.
‘Well better one than two’ I muttered.
Back at my room I was exhausted and managed to rip open my suit on the door handle. How glamorous. No, it wasn’t the shark, a rock or the boat. It was a door handle…
I took my suit up in the afternoon to get help in fixing it. The afternoon was more rescue techniques, with CPR adapted particularly to freediving. There was so much to take in as we manhandled poor MT. Learning so much under them both made me feel so secure in the water with them there. Aharon has saved so many people’s lives after diving and other accidents that if I were ever to have a problem in the water I would hope that he was nearby.
After we had killed MT off several times we sat outside to do a dry walk, a very powerful exercise in dynamic training. We wore a heart monitor and sat on a chair while another person made note of the time and the heart rate. We ventilated for 3 minutes, did a static of 30 seconds and then continued to hold our breath while walking through the olive grove and up the steep hill. What Aharon wanted us to see was that despite us walking up the hill while holding our breath, our heart rate actually went down. We could see the breath hold reflex in action. It was incredible and we all walked much further than we had imagined.
As the sun went down I sat on the balcony over-looking the bay as Aharon mended my suit. I couldn’t believe that we only had one day of the course left, and also that I had been so wrong to think of Aharon as Mr Angry.
The storms returned that night and in the morning it was very overcast. The sky was so clear that we could see the snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains in Albania, and the water had become the most incredible blue.
We learned how to correctly safety dive for our buddy and went up and down the line looking out for each other. Aharon then fixed up the lanyard system off the back of the boat and we were shown how it worked.
The rope is cleated off to the prescribed depth, and ten kilos is placed on the end (you are not wearing any weight). A ring runs up and down the line, and this is attached to one of your wrists. After breathing up, you release the rope, do a couple of kicks and then, holding onto the weight, very slowly glide to the cleated off depth. If you can’t equalise then you let go of the rope, and if there is a problem then the other end of the rope is dropped as a counterweight to you over the other side of the boat, and you are pulled to the surface.
Aharon and MT use this as a technique to train constant weight, as they keep decreasing the amount of weight that pulls you down and then begin to slowly increase the weight that you wear to a maximum of 2kgs.
The week before we arrived, MT was doing 70 with ease. If I did 30 I would be chuffed!
It’s an amazing way to learn how to equalise as you go down so slowly and without having to think about finning. Aharon let Vicktor and I try 30 meters, and going down with my eyes closed was so peaceful. At the bottom I opened my eyes and looked around. I was suspended 20-meters from the bottom with loads of air. I could see the underwater landscape stretching out beneath me. It was so beautiful. A tap on the shoulder reminded me that I actually had to return and as I was still buoyant at 30, I drifted up with MT by my side.
The beginner’s course was over but my time there was not. I had one day to relax, in the sun to get rid of the ‘racoon’ look, before the Russian’s arrived and the monofin course began.
The 5-day course was the most incredible and informative 5 days I have ever spent. With their knowledge and ability, Aharon and MT could rake in the money by having loads of people on their courses. But by restricting the number to three they can ensure that everyone has nearly constant one to one attention and that safety is always paramount. If you want a thorough grounding in freediving with expert personal attention from two lovely people then this is the course for you.
Aharon and MT are most concerned with safely getting style and technique right so you can then put into practice at home what you have learnt with them and by learning how to feel comfortable in the water and taking it slowly, you are more likely to go deeper safely.