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 🙂

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 🙂 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!

Malta wrap-up & Freedive studies

I’ve been back home from Malta for a couple of weeks now. In the conclusion of my last post I said I’d keep you guys posted on other dives there. Unfortunately there were none.

The day after the three dives with David from onebreathfreediving.com, I decided to take a rest day from diving and take the mountain bike out for a spin around the north part of the island (as you might have already read in the previous post). It was good fun and I saw some of the prettier, less crowded places of Malta.

Unfortunately the wind picked up that day and even though diving on the west side of the island would still have been possible, in the days after it wasn’t. All I could do was monitor the weather closely and on the last full day of my holiday the wind finally died down. Problem was: now the bay was full – and I mean really FULL – of purple jelly fish, which didn’t exactly make me eager to enter the water…

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Look closely to spot the purple jelly fish

This meant the rest of my last day was spent doing some more sight seeing. I took a bus to Sliema from where I walked along the coast all the way to Saint Julian and along the way was able to take a nice panoramic picture of Malta’s capital Valletta.

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When I arrived home I relaxed for a week before starting training in the pool again. I also decided to search for some extra guidance to get an even better understanding of equalization in freediving. What better way than to dive into a book about it(?):

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Federico Mana is one of the equalization guru’s in the freediving scene. What I especially like about the book is that it doesn’t only have dry exercises but also a lot of practical exercises to do in confined (up to 5 meter deep pool) or open water.

Coming weeks I’ll be testing some of these exercises out, especially the ones that deal with glottis and soft palate control, and I’ll try to film a couple of them to show and share with whoever’s interested.

Ciao!