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Training to 100m with the IAFD

This is the first of my reports from Miami, where I’ll be attempting to make another UK record in the No Limits category at a depth of over 100 metres. At the same time an American and a Moroccan freediver will each be attempting their own respective national records.

DAY 1: 8th June. After being picked up from the airport and offered the very best hospitality by Pipin, Audrey, Carlos and all the IAFD crew we were taken out to dinner and spent some time leaning respiration techniques from Pipin. This technique is very different from that which we had all been practicing previously, and have been scientifically designed to maximize efficiency in the No Limits discipline, and have a proven track record here.

We took the larger of the boats out to the deep water after more respiration advice and practice. Once out at sea we were introduced to the latest sled which has been continuously improved over the past 15 years. The cable is made of Teflon coated stainless steel and the sled is fitted with Teflon rollers so we knew it would be fast. Working with this completely different system we set about warming up with a series of underwater statics.

Once we were all ready, Audrey and Pipin demonstrated their technique with a tandem dive themselves. After that I volunteered to go first with Audrey in tandem. We set the weights to 51 metres and away we went. Audrey did 4 dives with us in tandem as part of her training for her World Record attempt to 151 metres on July 13th. The safety divers watched us very closely and Pipin himself was also at the bottom, as was Wicky, a diver of enormous experience. We all felt in very safe hands. After more instruction of technique from both Pipin and Audrey we all went again in various tandem pairs. We set the weights a little lower at 60m and I went down solo to get a feel for the new sled.

There are lots of new procedures and techniques to learn and become comfortable with, and we all had a great first day and learnt a lot. The water was beautiful 28 degrees, which for me felt like a bath.

DAY 2: 9th June. Today I got to dive with and watch an IAFD Level 1 course in constant weight. We learnt and practiced more of the respiration techniques, and I found it quite fascinating to watch Pipin teaching his students with individual attention and demonstrations of all the basic techniques. The sea was beautifully warm again, the sun was scorching and we had a great day. We had a lovely lunch at Pipin and Audrey’s house where we discussed the finer points of our individual performances and techniques.

DAY 3: 10th June Today the gods of the sea were not with us. Stormy conditions meant that we couldn’t take the boat and sled out. Instead we did some very intense training in simulation dives at Pipin’s home. After a thorough explaination of the techniques and a demonstration by Pipin, I performed a series of simulation No Limits dives, carefully recording heart rates and times.

This type of ‘dry’ training is very powerful and, although quite tiring, it is very easy to see how it will improve all aspects of the actual deep dives. Both Audrey and Pipin have shared with me the training that they do which allows them to go so deep with a minimum of time training actually in the water.

I am especially finding the new style of respirations which the IAFD teach, extremely useful and am grateful to have such a scientific and advanced training program which will continue to help me improve when I leave here.

DAY 4: Yesterday, June 11th, the weather was terrible and we could not take the boat out.

The weather report for today was only good for the morning so we set out at 07.00 with the boat. Mark could not be with us today because of work commitments. Jalal came out but did not feel well enough to dive, due partly to some lovely French girls he met last night!!! I was a good boy and had an early night.

We set the weights to 61 meters and I did a tandem dive with Pipin. Spending time to practice the new respiration techniques and procedure. Diving without a mask is a very different sensation for me, but the water is really very warm. Starting to relax more with the new set up.

Next was another opportunity for me to go solo on the sled. We set the weights to 75 meters and I familiarized myself with the operation of the sled, again, very different to my own. I did one dive to 75 using all the new techniques and was delighted since it’s much deeper than I’ve been before without packing. Pipin has taught us how to take a really full breath in one go and it seems to be working. The sled is very fast, round trip was 1 min 30 secs.

We then watched Pipin as he grabbed his speargun to catch our lunch. After a short time in the water he emerged with two huge fish which are being put on the barbeque as I write this update….It’s such a tough life sometimes!!

Day 5: The weather was bad again today so we could not go out in the sea. It seems that a big low pressure weather system is moving towards us from Cuba over the next few days and this evening the decision was made to postpone our record attempts.

The plan is to return in July to attempt our respective National 100 meter + records. We have all learnt a huge amount in this time and would like to publicly thank the IAFD, Pipin, Audrey, Carlos, Wicky, Manolo and all the safety dive team, and Carolina and Barbera from the Head Office. The hospitality and generosity which we have received has been quite exceptional…thank you.