Equalization for Freediving

In the piece about Covid-19 and the freediving season so far I announced a post about equalization (or: equalisation) for freediving. Here it is! Maybe a little later than promised, but here nonetheless.

If you have visited this blog before, you’ll know I have written about my issues with equalization extensively. When I started out on this journey my main challenge was equalizing head down. If you want to read more about my personal experiences, you can read “The dawn of upside down equalization“, “Practice makes perfect” or “SSI level 2 freediving course” posts. They might contain tips that could help you as well.

This post will be a far more general introduction to equalization for freediving, totally made possible by my level 2 instructor Pavol Ivanov, who made good use of the Corona-measures imposed free time. Instructor Pavol is a protΓ©gΓ© of Linda Paganelli, who was one of the original mouthfill guru’s.

We will focus on the techniques of Frenzel equalization, which is the best and most used technique for freediving. Frenzel is easiest for head down equalization, and definitely essential for transitioning from a beginner to an advanced freediver. Only after understanding the Frenzel technique well, you can start getting into mouthfill equalization for dives far below residual volume.

Okay, let’s get right into it with the first video:

How to learn the Frenzel equalization technique, by Pavol Ivanov.

In this video Pavol explains the difference between Valsalva and Frenzel equalization techniques and why the Frenzel method is preferred for freediving. He shows you how to check which technique you use naturally and what exercises you can do to get the right awareness for an effective Frenzel equalization. Be aware: even if you think you already have a steady Frenzel technique, this video is worth watching because it also contains some tips for finetuning it.

Pavol points it out several times, but it cannot be stressed enough: glottis control is very important. If you can’t keep it shut for the pressure manoeuvre, it greatly disadvantages your ability to equalize with the Frenzel technique. At the same time you need to be able to open it every now and then to recharge the air you need for the equalization. So practice glottis control often.

To finish the video Pavol introduces the Otovent tool as a way to check the status of your progress. Nowadays a lot of Freediving brands like Octopus and Molchanovs sell tools like this as well. It is a very valuable tool not only in the beginners phase of learning the Frenzel technique, but also when you are pushing your Frenzel to its depth limits and for the transition into the mouthfill technique.

Make sure your basics are perfect and then on to the next video:

How to take your Frenzel equalization as deep as possible, by Pavol Ivanov.

This video is about equalizing close to and beyond your residual lung volume. Pavol therefore introduces Boyle’s law as a factor in equalization. He also explains how learning the proper techniques from the beginning and getting the right awareness will help you in the long run. Such in comparison with the divers that start with no equalization problems at all and then reach the depths where they suddenly do encounter difficulties.

In the extensive introduction Pavol also discusses safety and potential dangers of progressing too quick and without caution, as well as the influence of flexibility and other physiological differences between divers.

After that Pavol goes into the motion of “recharging the Frenzel”. Which basically is the act of moving new air from the lungs to the throat/mouth so you can continue equalizing after the air in your mouth has run out or is so compressed you can’t use it to Frenzel anymore. There is (or should be) a rhythm and strategy to this, that you need to get aware of.

A complementary step to all this is relaxation of the body, especially your belly and chest. Feel your dives. Know when you tense up. Pay attention to a relaxed and functional body position in all parts of your dive.

Pavol visualizes equalization pressures for you with the assistance of the EQ-tool and discusses the difference between sequential frenzel (with sequential recharges) and a continuous pressurization.

To end the video Pavol gives you one of the best exercises there are to improve your Frenzel equalization. I think I have mentioned this exercise in one of my earlier blog posts. It was a game changer for me! Practicing this empty lung exercise with the releasing of the air after every equalization gives you a feeling for rhythmically recharging the Frenzel and doing so at a minimal lung volume.

I sincerely hope these video’s help you further. Whether you’re a beginner or somebody who was on the wrong path until now or just didn’t understand any other explanations out there. Good luck with your equalization practice! πŸ™‚

If you have any questions or considerations, please comment below!

Interview with Legendary Freediver

The title might mislead you into thinking you’re about to read one of the greatest interviews with a Legendary Freediver like Umberto Pelizzari, Pipin Ferreras or Enzo Maiorca. Nothing is further from the truth, and I have been fooled by the title of the video below just the same. Doesn’t make it less funny though πŸ™‚ And so recognisable for most free divers. I had to share immediately:

The Legendary Freediver about health, gear, scuba-diving and his wife.

Goals set, Goals met (NYE-post)

December 31st, 2018.

No better day to look back and contemplate a year of freediving.

In October 2017 I started on a journey to learn freediving and took you by the hand as much as possible. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, mainly because equalization of the middle ear didn’t come naturally for me. I had to grab every possible opportunity to learn about it and practice quite a bit. You can read about the whole process on this blog and hopefully it will help or has helped some of you out there.

When I first tried for my level 1 freediving certification I couldn’t equalize upside down at all. So I failed miserably. The bottom of the Dive4Life dive tower seemed very far away, reaching it so unattainable. However… in the back of my mind two primary goals formed: getting my level 1 certification one way or the other, and touching the bottom of the 20 meters deep pool in Germany.

After quite a bit of practice in between, in March of this year I went back to Dive4Life to do the re-examination for my SSI level 1 freediver certification. Luck was not on my side. I was having a proper nose cold that, together with the pressure to finally meet the requirements, had taken away all relaxation I so sorely needed. But all’s well that ends well. And so it did. Goal number one reached!

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to kill two birds with one stone. I’d have to return one day to truly conquer the pool by reaching the bottom.

In the meanwhile I have written about my summer practice in the Vinkeveense Plassen (one and two) and reaching new PB’s, but in my last post I left the readers at a Paris overlay ahead of a holiday in Spain, ending with a post scriptum hint that my luggage (full of freediving gear) did arrive at Malaga airport. Behold below the result of two good days of diving with my girlfriend’s brother who knew to find all nooks and crannies (watch in HD):

You can see the visibility was great and most beauty is to be found in shadowy places πŸ™‚

I was really looking out for some encounters with octopuses. Which are a lot harder to spot than you might think. Especially if you don’t have that spear-fisherman’s eye… Unfortunately I got an ear infection soon after above images were shot and had to stop diving for a couple of days 😦 That was a huuuuge bummer.

The last couple of days I was able to enter the water again and I still kept on the lookout for octopuses. Sadly without having my camera with me, it was only on the last day of the holiday I had an encounter, but a long one that lasted maybe fifteen minutes. A small octopus in shallow water, constantly changing his colours, moving and settling, squirting ink when I came too close for his liking. What fascinating creatures.

After this holiday, going into autumn, regular diving had quickly stagnated. The outdoor waters of the Netherlands were still okay for a while, but the weather out of the water became too harsh to truly keep enjoying dives outside. Hoisting oneself in and out the wetsuit on the water’s edge became too cold a undertaking to keep it an enjoyable experience.

So what better to do than go back to Dive4Life and finally touch summit (read: bottom) there? Exactly: nothing… So when I was invited to come with some buddies I met at the Vinkeveense Plassen last summer, I took a day off work on the 7th of December and joined them for a day of diving in the pool in Siegburg, Germany.

What can I say… both goals were reached this year that day πŸ™‚ I filmed it all (except for the shot of me freefalling) so best to join me in this predominantly POV-video and see for yourself:

And… you might ask, what about new goals? Any new years resolutions? Well… Next year I plan to get comfortable between 25-30 meters and possibly get my level 2 certification. I’ll keep you guys posted and I’ll keep the video’s coming. Oh yeah, and also, as a last but not least: I’m planning a couple of gear reviews for you guys!

Till next year! Best wishes, keep diving and keep safe!