One hundred and seventy-five competitors, thirty-one countries, no depth limits and the cream of the freediving world. Yes, it¹s the Freediver Classic Competition. Held from the 24th to the 31st of May in Cyprus where the visibility is 40- 50 M and the air temp is around 25oC.
Competing will be the likes of Carlos Coste, Guillaume Nery, Karoline Meyer, Martin Stepanek, Herbert Nitsch, and me. They must be quaking in their monofins. Inspired by my ability to get down to thirty metres and organiser Howard Jones’s encouragement that all abilities can apply, I have thrown caution to the wind, booked a flight and hotel and now have to consider the element that I forgot in all the excitement. Training!
Ah yes. The joys of lying on the sofa for hours with a watch in one hand and a hand-written table in the other. The difficulty of finding a pool in the UK which doesn’t have a samba if you mention the word "breath hold", and the vain hope that my body fat would actually do it’s job and insulate me from freezing cold water.
It has taken me six months to finally find a pool and a buddy and so far, with our busy work schedules, we have only managed a few sessions on a Sunday. Not regular enough yet to see an improvement in static times but good to get wet.
The biggie for me though is exercise. I have been gently pushed towards this frightening concept by a few, well, lets be honest, everyone whose ears I have bent on the subject of improving my performance. Last month I steeled myself and joined a gym on the proviso that I was allowed to use my fins in the pool.
Armed with some old trainers and a shorts and T-shirt combo that still had my name tape sewn in from school, I started with the treadmill. After twenty minutes of fast walking I had a gentle glow and a feeling of smug satisfaction. Onto the weight machines. I started with some arm exercises, where I pushed a bar up. My friend had told me to set it at about 20kg and do twenty repetitions. I thought the machine had broken. I kept taking out the pin until it was at the lowest setting, and then gritting my teeth in an attractive fashion I pushed. My arms shook, the bar raised slightly, and then smashed back down. Am I really that weak?!
Despite all this I still felt very proud and assumed that by next week I be at the peak of physical fitness. I sent an excited email to a freediving friend who promptly sent me crashing back down to earth with a caustic reply informing me that this was "absurd 3x weekly finger twitching often touted as what ‘medical research’ has shown is all you need to get fit". Moreover, what I was doing was little better than the "silly walk program".
Since then I have been more industrious. I have discovered that my heart rate needs to raise up to 132 and remain there for at least thirty minutes before anything happens, and so have been alternating my fast walking with the odd three minutes of jogging thrown in. I have been also been in the pool and have managed to bring my practice session up to twenty minutes breaststroke followed by ten minutes fin practice with my front snorkel and kiddie fins bought from the Russians.
The telling point came however last Sunday when I had a chance to practice underwater with my monofin. Suddenly I could actually feel some power. I actually moved forward in a relatively straight line rather than flailing about like a drunk porpoise. This, after only thirty minutes practice in all was unbelievably encouraging and made me think that it actually might be worthwhile.
And so my mind turns to my first competition. I was emailed a while back by a guy who I had met at the tank and then out at Paxos asking if I wanted to be on a team with him. So far there are only two of us and he wants us to be called "Team Abyss" after a friend’s shop. Needless to say I immediately thought of possible headlines "Hurtling towards the Abyss".
So if you fancy a laugh and the money back no quibble guarantee that there will be no podium places, drop me a line to join our team. 64 days to go and counting. I’m off down the gym.
In addition to the coverage here, why not visit the
Why not visit Apnea Magazine for Italian, or SportalSub.net for Spanish translations of our coverage?