On The Road to Cyprus – Part II

Training for Freediving covers so many different aspects: Teaching the body to adjust to breath holding, equalisation, physical fitness and the ability to still the mind and slow the heart. Whilst a dive or breath hold will only last a matter of minutes, the practise beforehand takes a disproportionately length of time, and it is finding this time that I have found the biggest barrier to any progress. For the past few weeks, I have had scarcely the time to catch my breath let alone hold it. Working seven days a week for sixteen or more hours every day, 258 miles from my home, has meant that whilst the mind is willing, the flesh is stuck in traffic on the M42.

As I write this now, I am currently 5200 miles from my home, according to the portable GPS of my old friend, who has just asked whether Freediving "is one of those things where scantily clad women fetch things from the bottom of the ocean ?" The only training I have thus been able to achieve has been on the plane. In an attempt to learn to separate my eppiglotis from my soft palette, and progress deeper, I sat in the plane, exhaled all the air I could before filling my mouth and trying to do "the Farrell" – this is my version of "the Frenzel", it starts and finishes with the same letters but gets a little confused in the middle.

It was very difficult to ascertain the success of my endeavours as I was neither in water nor inverted. And also the tightness in my chest through a total exhale caused me to have a coughing fit which further alarmed the poor chap sitting next to me. Whenever I can next get in the water, my plan is to dive with full cheeks of air, if I can achieve this than I hope I am someway down the line – 33m !? Further disadvantages of my working schedule have been the exhaustion and the loss of momentum in my training. About three months ago, I had the time to build up a good dry practice at home in the evenings. I was managing a breath-hold table at least every other day, and had built up my times to a personal best in water of over three minutes and dry, a further forty five seconds. I managed a hold last week, but my physical exhaustion and lack of practice caused me to give it up at 2:15, my whole body screaming in pain, despite the contractions being way off. This has really brought home to me, the time and the energy needed to practice and what happens when one has neither can become quite alarming.

Two days before flying out, I was at home and had an evening free of work. I excitedly rang up my fat ankled, permanently hungover buddy to arrange a pool session, and started to manically cram my suit, weights and mono-fin into bags for the hour drive. I knew I’d been working myself into the ground, but didn’t know I’d tunnelled so far I’d hit Australia. As I ran around my flat like a mouse in an amphetamine experiment, I started to notice strange flashing lights in my left eye, after about five minutes, Magic Trev’s mobile disco had set up in my brain and I was left with only slight vision in the bottom right hand side of my right eye. I rang my buddy and slightly hysterically explained that it was perhaps not a good thing to get in my car. "Do you have a headache" he enquired. "No, I just can’t see," was my reply, "go to bed !" he said, "No, give me ten minutes, I’ll be fine",

"Mate, go to bed" he insisted and I mumbled "Erm, OK", put the phone down and went to sleep for fourteen hours. The wall had been finally hit.

So here I sit, miles from home, late for a seminar, in a room overlooking a eight lane freeway, wondering when I will next see open water for sure. My diary tells me when – the first day of Cyprus, not looking good. I have taken to dreaming again about freediving, watching my friends do constant weight dives as a series of beautiful still images. If I am allowed a weekend off from work, then there is a possibility of a trip to Dorothea in a couple of weeks time. Never has a freezing, no-vis, stinky pit held such appeal as now. I’m tempted to tell myself "don’t hold your breath !" but that’s kind of missing the point.

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