Saturday, September 26, 2020

Loic LeFerme's No-Limits Course

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DAY 1 – Wednesday

Weather: overcast and windy, air temperature 16 degrees, water 13 degrees, vertical visibility 20m

The sea appeared unsettled from the plane as it descended into Nice. With the "whitetops" visible from a height of 2km, I already expected the sled course to be quite challenging. At the airport, I met CIPA representative Cederic who drove me to my hotel where I would be spending the next 5 days. I met my roommate at the hotel who introduced himself as Andrea, with very good English I might add. He had traveled from Rome Italy by car in only 7 hours!

After a couple of hours chatting, we went to a parking area near the hotel where we had arranged for the first course meeting. Of course, we already dragged our freediving gear along with us as we intended to start the course by immediately becoming familiarized with the conditions in the sea, as well as showing our diving skills to the instructors. Once at the meeting point, we met the other course students: Alban, Philippe, Steve, Yvon, Ludo, Sidney.

Once we had moved on to the diving spot, to our surprise we noticed that the diving conditions were not as bas as we had thought, in fact the sea was quite calm. The reason for this was revealed to us, that is, when our Creator made Nice’s St Cap Ferrat he must have surely thought of creating a great freediving place as the sea on the other side of the peninsula is protected from the strong winds by the mountains, and hence the relatively calm conditions. In other words, the residents of Nice have ideal freediving conditions: more than 200m of water depth close to the shore and almost calm conditions in all wind conditions!

Once at the shore, we didn’t spend much time admiring the conditions, but got into the water once we had informed the instructors our definite depth limits. We spent a few hours warming-up performing constant weight dives using 3 descent lines, under safe supervision. Lo??c even watched every student’s dives separately so that the following days would be as safe as possible for us. Once we had drunk some warm tea on the shore after the dives, and after we had agreed to start the next day at the same place after only a light breakfast, we went back to the hotel. However, a delicious evening meal awaited us at the hotel on our arrival – the French way of course!

DAY 2 – Thursday

Weather: sunny at times and windy, air temperature 17 degrees, water 13 degrees, vertical visibility 20m

Once we had arrived at the diving spot, which had become familiar to us the day before, we began day 2 with a light breakfast. Breakfast soon made way for the donning of our freediving gear, and we commenced our practice by preparatory negative dives. After this, we were introduced to the basics of freediving, the secrets of variable weight and no-limits. Safety was taken care of excellently, particularly with Steve Truglia performing his own training programme and going to 60m. Steve, who has received quite strong criticism in various freediving forums, came across as quite a humorous and nice English fellow, who approached his training with the required degree of humbleness and careful preparation and consideration.

I myself spent some of the time taking pictures of the events going on with my Nikonos V camera. I also learned from Lo??c the most important lessons of my diving career, and since I have been diving all my life, it was about time.

After the dives, we spent time on the shore enjoying a nice, tasty picnic during which we had the opportunity to replenish our depleted energy stores. After a short rest, we performed diaphragm, breathing and stretching exercises. The day ended with a delicious dinner in the warmth of the hotel.

DAY 3 – Friday

Weather: partly cloudy and windy, air temperature 16 degrees, water 13 degrees, vertical visibility 20m

Our morning duties at the shore, including breakfast, were now performed with a familiar routine and we were again in the water. We performed the negative dives once again as a warm-up and the depths were again inviting us down. Once Steve had safely performed a 65m dive, we were again in full swing using the 3 descent lines to practice the secrets of variable weight, free immersion and no-limits dives under expert instruction. Once I had understood to omit the packing completely the previous day and only concentrate on the feeling of diving, I experienced the best moments of my diving career. With relaxing music playing underwater (Each day Lo??c had set up an underwater stereo for our use!), I was able to perform the easiest 40m+ dives of my life and without the need for packing and without the forced feeling of having to return to the surface. I omitted the 2-3 deep breaths that I usually perform, and despite this I was able to easily perform 2min dives and enjoy every second of each dive! The only challenge I experienced was, when descending with speed, that my rubber weight belt was perhaps not as carefully fastened around my waist as it should have been. This resulted in a few litres of "refreshing" cool 13 degree water in my suit as it (and myself) was compressed after 30m of depth. In addition, that kind of serving of cold seawater has a funny way of making a human try and take deep breaths, even while not breathing! After this, I ended up warming myself a few times on the edge of the boat. After the dives, we again had a picnic on the shore, after which time Lo??c took us to see some high quality freediving videos of dives he had performed during his career; 152m no-limits world record, 154m no-limits world record, and dives with sea lions in California to name a few. That was certainly a great ending to a great day.

DAY 4 – Saturday

Weather: partly cloudy and windy, air temperature 16 degrees, water 13 degrees, vertical visibility 20m

Once again the same return; we prepared ourselves for the new day and the deep blue with breakfast on the beach and some gentle stretching. This time, though, we commenced our diving exercises with some rescue dive practice from which I picked up some very good pointers, in particularly considering the diving performed back in Finland.

After this, the greater portion of the day was spent performing head down sled dives. I notice how performing dives in this way had its own intricacies and secrets. During those dives I noticed perhaps the fastest bag fill in history when the local beauty I had descended to 35m with, disappeared upwards towards the surface while I scratched my head (not literally!) while I continued to dive deeper in my own relaxed way. Diving safety was always under full control even though the dive depths had increased from day to day. As it seems I had understood a pointer that had been given to me incorrectly, and had folded my open cell suit’s trousers around my waist, I was able to prevent the worst of "flood" into my diving suit.

Use of the sled began to be fairly routine after a while, and so I was also able to relax and enjoy the dives more and more. Once again, the dives ended and we found ourselves at picnicking on the shore. Fatigue from the day’s diving was also visible in some of the students who commenced there own "relaxation" exercises after the meal with some "sleep therapy".

Our evening programme involved visiting a very well outfitted "Submarine" dive shop, which had a very full and complete range of freediving equipment. After that, the evening continued with a delicious dinner from the hotel’s French kitchen. We had organized with Lo??c to go and have a brief look around Nice as the light faded to darkness. However, this didn’t go so easy for Andrea and myself and we continued on after meeting Lo??c to sample some of Nice’s nightlife until five in the morning. In relation to this, it must be said that despite the local giant disco being an amazing experience, the behaviour of the local males towards the females in the disco certainly didn’t seem to be very civilized….

DAY 5

Weather: same again!

At 10 o’clock we found ourselves eating breakfast and once again ready to get into the day’s diving programme. Stretching and the sea – a good plan! Today we all had the opportunity to test our limits, and thus a large number of personal best results were achieved by those wishing to test themselves. France’s constant weight record holder, 19 year old Guillaume, also showed us his diving skill and expertise with a "routine" 70m constant weight dive, and he only used 10 minutes to prepare for the dive! We were able to perform sled dives as much as we desired under expert and safe instruction, and so gradually the course began to approach its end.

Final comment:

In my opinion the course was absolutely worth the experience and price even though all my expenses came out of my own savings. I would definitely head back to Nice any time for more of the same…as long as my family would let me J

A special thanks also to Lo??c and his family for their help with additional accommodation due to my flight leaving on Monday (Day 6).

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