Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeFreedivingProfile Series: David Lee

Profile Series: David Lee

Your Name: David Lee

Nationality: Jamaican

Age: 26

Accomplishments in freediving:

Setting first Unassisted Constant Ballast World Record to – 45m.

Why did you become involved in freediving?

I have always been involved with the ocean my whole life…Mainly because my mom has owned a dive shop for over 25 years…I learned to swim before I could walk. After working as a dive master for two years I became tired of all the equipment involved and decided to try freediving for the fun and simplicity of it. I fell in love with freediving from that moment on. I was 19 when I first decided to try to go deep and I just kept going from there. But I would say that I truly became involved in freediving last in November of 2000.

How often do you train?

I am always in training. When I am not training for freediving I train 6 days a week with a strict weight and cardio schedule that lasts approximately 1.5 hours per day. When I am training for freediving, Rudi Castineyra takes over my training schedule and I train 6 days a week sometimes up to four hours a day.

What is a typical day for you in your training routine – without divulging any special techniques that you don’t feel comfortable revealing:

A typical day would be warming up with freestyle stroke for about 25 minutes and then working on apnea drills that involve swimming many laps back and forth, varying techniques, distance, and time underwater. When the day is over I would have covered approximately 2.5 – 3 miles.

Do you have any special dietary needs or preferences that you feel helps your training?

Do you have any recommendations regarding this topic? I am the typical health nut that believes in a balanced diet. But as a general rule, I never eat cheese, fried foods, deserts, or drink sodas, alcohol, or caffeine . My training schedule is very physically demanding and I find that a low fat high carbohydrate meal work best for me to keep the energy level up.

Where do you mainly train – i.e.; pool, open water, etc.

Living in Tulsa, Oklahoma I’m not exactly in prime freediving grounds. My primary training environment is a 25m swimming pool. I get to dive very seldom, maybe one week every four months.

What is your favorite discipline in the sport of freediving?

Having only tried the constant ballast categories I would have to say the Line Assisted Constant Ballast is my favourite. I believe that most people call it Free Immersion. I haven’t tried the sled yet but I think it will be fun.

What is the most memorable dive or attempt that you have had – positive or negative:

I would have to say that my most memorable freediving experience is when I first met Rudi Castineyra and he took me to the Grotto in Ocala, Florida to "test me out" to see what I had. I had started the breathing techniques that Rudi developed and I just never felt comfortable doing them. I felt like I was running out of breath instead of feeling that refreshed "I wanna go now" feeling that you should get before a deep dive. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was totally out of breath and then had a target depth of 125ft (at the time my personal best). As I slid off the platform and my face hit the water I believe I started getting contractions. I did the entire dive experiencing contractions all the way down and all the way up. Now I can look back and laugh but at the time I really didn’t think it was that funny. I was very nervous and wasn’t used to the breathing. Now things have gotten much better and I can relax and use the techniques to my advantage. But that sticks in my mind as my most memorable freediving experience. Definitely a negative.

What advice would you give to someone who might be interested in the sport of freediving?

Freediving is fun and when you just begin personal bests are almost experienced on a daily basis. You must try to know your limits and respect the sea. And the number one rule that I tell everyone is that should never dive alone. Just today they fished an American tourists freediver from the Blue Lagoon in Jamaica that had drowned…the body was retrieved today (9/11/01). It is very sad that something that can be prevented so easily happens so often. Too many unnecessary deaths.

What do you do outside of the sport?

When I am near the ocean I surf and windsurf as much as possible. When I am in landlocked Tulsa, Oklahoma I rock climb, practice martial arts, and ride my motorcycle on the track. Anything that keeps me away from my day job which is being behind a computer.

Cliff Etzel
Cliff Etzel
Cliff is the former Freediving editor of He is now a freelance journalist and film-maker.