Over a couple of years of freediving I collected some dive masks. During my recent holiday on the island of Zakynthos, Greece, I decided to put them to the test in an inner volume shoot-out.
I tested the Mares Viper mask, the Mares X-Free mask, the legendary Aqualung Micromask and the Picasso Atomic mask. These masks are great dive masks and are ideal for freediving and spearfishing.
All the masks fit me reasonably well, but the Mares X-Free is my favourite for comfort and grip for equalization. The X-Free is however also the mask that squeezes the most when depth diving and seems to require a much more proper mask equalization between 10-15 meters than the other masks.
For the actual test and results, without further ado, below the video:
I hope you liked it and it was of help! If you have any questions: please hit me up through the contact form or on Youtube!
The first posts on this blog are about my first introduction to freediving and the (bumpy) road to completing the requirements for the level 1 certification. However, after you achieve one milestone, you need to aim for another. Logical… But before doing so, you better know you can meet the requirements. That much I learned from my first course…
A good one and a half year into my freediving practice I felt ready to start the level 2 course. But where?
I decided to do it somewhere near the sea and after a lot of Googling and YouTubin’, checking ticket and accommodation prices, I chose Atlantis Freediving on Tenerife.
Tenerife is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, part of the canary islands, and under Spanish rule. It has multiple freediving schools. The most famous are Apnea Canarias, owned by Spanish record holder Miguel Lozano, and Atlantis Freediving, a school connected to the Freedive International franchise.
The choice between the two was based on a buddy’s advice. She had spent quite some time on Tenerife and had some experience with both schools. She liked the location of Atlantis Freediving better (sheltered) and even though she had not done an official course with them (just some fun dives) they had left a good impression. Also, they have a shipwreck very close to shore. Enough reasons for me 🙂
This was going to be my first course in the ocean. Sea even. And it definitely came with some nerves. The requirements for the SSI level 2 freediving certification are:
Academic (online course material, theorie classes and exam);
Dynamic swim of at least 55 meters;
Static breath hold, minimum of 2:30 minutes;
Safety/rescue at 15 meters;
Hands only ascent from 15 meters;
Mask off ascent from 15 meters;
Constant weight dive to 20 meters minimum.
None of these numbers intimidated me anymore, but when you ‘must’ to do them, it is a different story. One of performance under slight pressure.
The first things that will come to light under these kind of circumstances are your weakest points. Compare it to a tennis player and his weakest stroke. In tense situations that stroke will fail on him first, and will therefore be exploited first, as you have an opponent in tennis.
Luckily there is no opponent other than yourself in freediving. But then again: aren’t you always your own biggest opponent in doing/achieving anything? Clichés are clichés for a reason. Dealing with yourself; your abilities and your beliefs is therefore paramount in taking up any challenge, if you’d ask me…
As the avid reader of this blog knows: my weak point was equalization. And even though I have gotten a better understanding of it through my practice, ánd even though I’m (by now) definitely more proficient at it than the average person: there are multiple levels to equalization for freediving. True mastery of equalization is still a somewhat enigmatic feat.
One thing is for sure though: equalization and relaxation are linked together and influence each other in a big way. So… well…: my equalization worked sufficiently to meet the requirements, but it definitely was a negative factor for my relaxation (and the other way around probably).
Fortunately, the instructor at Atlantis Freediving, Pavol Ivanov, had been dealing with the same sort of problems at the start of his freediving journey. Which made him exactly the right person to do this course with. He immediately noticed how I tried to ‘help’ my frenzel with a valsalva like push as soon as it became more challenging in depth. This is an ineffective technique, disruptive to your focus and can cause problems with the trachea (hoarse throat) and lungs (possible squeeze).
With some pointers and a couple of exercises Pavol gave me (probably the most import things I learned this course), I slowly started to get a better feeling for it and unnecessary movements and sounds started to disappear. After the three days it ‘clicked’ even more. I feel Pavol left me with some tools to take the next steps in developing a potent and consistent frenzel equalization that can take me to at least 30 meters. Kudos Pavol!
So now you might still wonder: did you meet ALL requirements and get your level 2 certification?! I will no longer keep you guys in suspense: I DID meet all my level 2 requirements (even swam 75 meters dynamic) and am now officially an advanced freediver 🙂
Of course I got a hell of a lot of other pointers as well, concerning finning and freefall techniques, as well as possible improvements to make to my recovery breaths. Things that improved during the course and things to keep improving and paying attention to on my way to an eventual level 3 course. Basically it comes down to: keep finetuning every aspect of your freediving. That figures, if you want to become a master freediver, right? Yes. Yes, it does.
Below some footage to get a sense of freediving around Tabaiba:
If you have any questions or need some information, don’t hesitate and comment below or send me a personal message!
I’m up 36,000ft in the sky while writing this blog update; barely having survived a Serbian wedding and now halfway a full day of travel to get to my girlfriend in Spain.
It’s been a while, and I wanted to let you guys know what’s up before reporting on this coming holiday where I plan to do some nice Mediterranean dives and hopefully film some.
Don’t think I went for a freediving break in the meantime. No, no… I have been training at least once a week for the last couple of months. In the green, murky waters of Vinkeveen.
We might have found the deepest spot within the diving area there. I know this because I touched bottom and took some mud back to the surface, and by doing so also set a new personal best of 23.7 meters! 🙂
Dives of around 18 meters come more easily and regularly now. I found out that to go deeper I have to focus quite a bit on keeping the glottis (or is it called the epiglottis, I still don’t f**king know) closed, but also not forget to equalize the mask at some point. Slowly and steadily I’m getting to finetune this whole Frenzel equalization process.
Every now and then we still hang around the buswreck though. A backdrop like that is a bit more appealing for the images, since it’s absolutely pitch black down around those 18 meters and deeper. On one of our training sessions a scuba diver (from the dive school of my regular buddy) came along. He was interested to shoot some freediving stuff and ended up editing this short movie:
By now I’ve also introduced some friends to freediving. They all seem intrigued but everyone seems to struggle with equalization, even the guys with some prior scuba experience.Which makes me wonder why equalization has not yet really been made a part of the level 1 freediving courses. I would definitely make it part of one if I’m ever to become an instructor. Pinky promise.
As for my travel today I can say that carrying the huge bag that can hold all the gear (including fins) is plain HELL… They should give these things good straps and maybe a back (rucksack) carry possibility like the North Face duffles do. Let’s just assume it’ll be all worth it 🙂 And I do sincerely hope it arrives at Malaga, because it’s been turning around on the Paris airport luggage belts for four hours during my overlay.
For now I will leave you guys with this and my latest video: