What Just Happened?

Was it flow? Or did I just cheat time itself?

Today I was looking back at the week and I noticed that somehow I didn’t do any freediving at all. The Tuesday swimming sessions with Sanne haven’t take place at all during the last week, this due to a planning conflict between this session and my son’s skateboarding lessons. And the Thursday training got canceled due to the fact that Sanne was very late at home after some hours in a traffic jam and me being totally depleted from energy because of a family trip to the swimming pool.

So, while the sun was shining hard this afternoon, I decided to fill up the blanks with some dry walks, while my son was riding in the skate park. After sitting on a bench for 2 minutes and breathing lightly I started with my first walk. Normal pace and just strolling along. After 45 seconds I got my first contraction and stopped. It felt terrible, as usual. I walked back to the bench and prepared again for 4 minutes. Started walking and at 43 seconds I got my first contraction and at 48 seconds I just couldn’t hold it anymore. This time it felt even worse and I almost pissed in my pants. Why am I doing this?

Back to the bench and forget about the dry walks! Just relax, enjoy the sun and watch my son skateboard. What a great day, I was thinking. After 20 minutes or so, and nearly falling asleep, I was thinking about why my dry walks always suck so much. I just don’t know why this is. I decided to do one more dry walk, but this time I would stop at the contraction and I wouldn’t promise myself that I would go on a little longer. Just walk until contraction and that’s it!

Instead of using the bicycle lane, I know decided to walk around the skatepark, and instead of looking down the whole time I decided to look at my son and what was happening in the busy skatepark. With the same speed I started the walk, just enjoying the sun, the people, everything. After a lap of walking I felt the contraction coming and stopped the timer. I just couldn’t believe it when I looked at my stopwatch. 1:35 minutes. What just happened?

In complete disbelief I walked back the exact route and the time was correct. My best dry walk time ever was 1:25 minutes from 6 years ago or so. And I remember that one as one of the most painful breath holds ever! And now… no pain, no contractions, nothing! And this time? I guess this was one of those famous ‘flow’ performances, the one that happens only every thousand times, the one where I ‘lost’ time. I just hope that it will happen to me again in the next session… 😉

Waiting For Summer!

As we came back from the pool last week, I told Sanne that it was time for depth again. I’m missing it! But overhearing the story of some scuba divers who went out last weekend and hearing them talking about 6 degrees water, I convinced myself I could wait a little longer before putting on my wetsuit.

I was looking back on this site for some older posts and what we’ve been doing. It was fun to read back what we have done already and especially what we have accomplished. Great stuff and so glad that we started this blog already so many years back. While our Sharkbait blog is 99% filled with freediving stuff, it is not only freediving that keeps Sharkbait occupied. It has been more about the way we do sports in general and how we enjoy doing it. Besides freediving, we also enjoy swimming, running, cycling, track & field, freerunning (Parcours), trampoline jumping, skateboarding, inline skating and especially snowboarding as well.

So, our philosophy about how we experience sport is not just freediving specific, but can be layered upon many other sports. Maybe it is time to update and republish our Sharkbait philosophy post again and see where we are standing today. Good times!

Step By Step

Great session yesterday evening! It was the first freedive training after our snowboard vacation, so we were curious high the high altitude training would have helped us with our performances. At the moment Sanne and I are trying to accomplish two things in the pool.

The first is to increase monofin technique. We already came from far with this one. The first quarter of this year was really dedicated to using the monofin and I’m glad to say that both Sanne and I are finally using the monofin in such an easy way that turning back to bifins for dynamic performance dives would only be done of nostalgia.

The basic technique is there and there is even room to play around and experiment with this technique in the form of amplitude changes, body position adjustment, power and kick cycles. We both agree that for the moment our best strategy to go by is a kick-kick-kick-glide cycle in the pool we are using now. As this is a 25 meter pool we need 3 complete kkkg cycles for one length, which feels good compared to effort put in.

Now we need to start working on our weighting stuff. With the technique in the body, it is time to start fine tuning it and because a neck weight is even more uncomfortable for me then it is for Sanne, it is time to fix this this month.

Our preferred way of propulsion: Waterway Glide Fin

The second part is increasing comfortable performance (CP) so that it reaches closer to our maximum distance (MX). Increasing performance is always a trick by itself, and we tried already a lot of methods in the past for this. Reading back all our training logs from the past years one thing comes to mind; speed! The one variable we didn’t use to much is the speed were we would go to the next step. We used weeks, number of repeated performances and other variables to determine if we could make the next step, and the one thing that comes to top that still could be tweaked is going slower with the steps we take.

We still maintain the idea that we should be able to perform near our limits all the time without any big warm-ups and strange techniques. So that together with a program of increasing our CP nearer to our MP, brings us the current schedule we are  doing.

My own comfort distance is a 40-45 meter dive. No contractions, still good technique and the ability to relax underwater at the end. As soon as I turn at 50, I tense my body but especially my mind. So my task is to make sure I can do 45 meter dives without any tension and yesterday was the first time I could accomplish this, which I’m very happy with. I’ve never been able to keep so relaxed at this distance, so a big break through for myself. As I’m not as experienced myself with the no warm-up routine as Sanne is, I do a total of 4 dives like this with around 2 minute rests between and that’s it for me. So at the moment my CP=45 while my MP=75, which brings my CP/MP ratio to 60%

Sanne is already much further with his no warm-up routine and his CP. Yesterday he did 95 meters and make it look so easy. He stopped underwater at 95, made a stop gesture with his arms and slowly surfaced. His MP=125 meters, so his CP/MP ratio is 0,76 which is already great. And we are just getting started. This one dive is everything Sanne does for performance training. He is already so tuned in this no warm-up routine that this is sufficient for him.

The rest of our training is dedicated to technique and helping other freedivers improve. So still a minimum time invested in performance training for maximum results and still a lot of time left to enjoy the water. I just love this method!

Why I think the neck weight solution is wrong

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This is the first article in a series about finding a better design for the weight needed in a dynamic pool freediving performance. This article focusses on my discomforts and dislikings about the current design, which I blindly followed when I first started freediving. The next article in the series will focus on the way I intend to solve these problems into a new solution and the design around it. In the 3rd article I will focus on the testing we’ve done so far with different setups, to see if they actually solve my problems. The 4th article will show how the design evolved through time by incorporating our findings in the test phases. Finally in the 5th article I hope to present a solution with an easy design, so other freedivers can try and build one of their own and see if they benefit from it as much as I do.

The prototype I had recently tested, started out with an idea to get rid of my discomfort in wearing a weight belt around my neck. There are a few reasons why I dislike the neck-weight solution; Continue reading Why I think the neck weight solution is wrong

Monofin training distance

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Since last weeks training the distance of 87,5 meters is the set distance to go by for the coming 2 weeks after the holiday. Yestrday night and last tuesday I did them without any real problems and my mindset was prepared for a distance like that. I like to keep it that way and start freediving with a comfortable distance and build from there. If I up the distance to a new one it’ll be somewhere around 90-95 meters the next distance after that must be 105-110 meters, as I don’t want to end a run at the wall. Mentally a bad thing to have and I’ll keep in mind the words “a wall is there to make a turn” which I believe are the words from Danny Matherus.

Getting comfortable with the new monofin is the best thing that is happening at the moment. The technique is developing itself every time I try a new run and will only become more effective as I make more meters. The one thing that is making it uncomfortable at the moment is the neckweight. Because of the natural body reflex of making a contraction to get some air in, it also initiates the muscles in my neck to tense and by doing so the neckweight’s fit becomes unpleasant. Even if I would loosen the neckweight’s fit, it will still ‘choke’ me because my arms are pushing against them. So I have to start focussing on perfecting the design for my own weight system again and start training with that.

Overall I’m very pleased with the new monofin and training strategy, besides that it’s great to teach some diver students (who join us on Thursdays) the basics and fundamentals of freediving.

Keep Going Strong

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Just back from todays freediving training in the pool. Felt great again. The first dynamic run still feels the hardest, but after that I can start enjoying again.

All the training is starting to really work. Today for the first time I did a kick-kick-kick-glide cycle and still felt relaxed. Normally I would tense up during the glide section of the cycle, but this time everything stayed easy and fine.

It takes me 3 cycles and 20 seconds for a 25 meter lap. So that is 9 kicks in total. If I do a continuous kick cycle I need 15-16 kicks to complete the lap. So this is a big win. Keep in mind that Sanne and I are making very small kicks as opposed to some other people who prefer it another way.

All in all pretty good training once again. Sanne is really getting in shape with his monofin and I’m wondering how soon he will be doing the same distance as he always did with his bi-fins, but this time without any stress. 😉

Some other news that the Dutch visitors will probably like: from now on I’ll put a Dutch translation of my posts on the Shark Sports Sharkbait website. Different URL, different language, same content.

Do It!

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We solved our lane-problem once again. But this would be an even better solution!

Yesterday was a good freediving session in the pool! Besides some good technique training it also reminded me of taking charge of your own destiny.

We share our pool with a scubadiving team and in the last weeks we claimed our own spot, putting a line in the water so that we would have a private lane. This evening another scubadiving team joined ours for a ‘deep’ training lesson in the 5 meter pool and they had hired half of the pool.

So when Sanne and I arrived, first thought was that we couldn’t do dynamic today. Way to many freedivers in the pool and no way they would let us take a lane for ourselves with so many divers. We decided to go for static and afterwards take the public pool.

I already was pissed about this and was thinking that I could be standing on the slope as we spoke. But then of a sudden, I told myself to shut up and just do it! I took the monofin went to the head of the diving team and told him we would only need a very small lane at the end of the pool. After some discussion we got approval and setup our training line!

Mission accomplished! Only thing left to do was a good training! Sanne suggested that I would start with my 4 times the distance we agreed on. And after a hard first successful distance, but with rotten technique and with some good coaching from Sanne, I managed to improve the other 3 performances in technique with each set. So pretty happy in the end! Another session like this and it is time to up the minimum set distance.

Sanne was next and we decided that he would do 3,5 laps, which is 87,50 meters. After 30 seconds of preparation he was underwater. Nice kick and glide! And very very nice to see the improvement of technique between now and two months ago. Really amazing accomplishment. He’s now looking relaxed underwater WITH a monofin on his foot.

Afterwards it was time for the not-so-newbies-anymore Kai and Levi (correct me if I’m spelling your names wrong!). After some very visual and mental training how the monofin technique must look like with some subtle hinting at some metaphores the two guys had no problem with their attempts with the monofin. It actually looked already better then their bi-fins attempt!

Mental note to self: Arrange that damn neck-weight!

Grueling CO2 and dynamic turns

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It is always a good thing to train with other freedivers once and a while, which made me decide to visit the pool in Zeist again for a freediving training. I joined up with Eric van Riet Paap at 19:45 yesterday and we started out with a static session to be followed by a dynamic session later in the evening.

Eric had been making schedules for CO2 to go along his static times, as for today he wanted to do his “7,5 minute”-CO2 table. I agreed to try and do this schedule as well, just for the challenge of it, because it has been a while since a did a real good CO2 schedule. We started with a warm-up of empty lungs statics and I was very pleased with my results on that since this had been a while as well. Eric did nice empty lungs statics around 2m 10s and I was able to pull off a 1m 54s empty lung static.

In the meantime the other freedivers joined us, Rik Rösken, Danny Matherus, Erik Skoda and Rem. On to the schedule » First to go was Eric and he managed to do this grueling schedule without any bail outs or real problems. So respect for that! After that I was given the opportunity to give it a try. The first part went good and the first increase in time didn’t pose a problem. Then came the second increase in time and I just had too much trouble getting there in combination with an upcoming headache, that I decided that this schedule is for another time to finish. Just like Eric said, these things you have to build up to a level like this. None the less this was an awesome training and felt so good to be doing a proper CO2 training again.

After the schedule we both did a maximum static to see how the CO2 table influenced the contractions. Eric and I both did a respectable time without real problems, for 4m 31s for Eric and 4m 44s for myself.

For myself I had the goals I set in my last post, to reach 87,5 meters and see how easy that feels and always do a turn at 75m even if it’s just the turn. Eric had a similair kind of set up for his training, so we decided to take turns at our set distances. Eric first did a nice 100 meter with a turn and was very pleased with the overall feel, improvement points for himself were the turnpoints. After that I did a 87,5 meter dynamic and it actually felt like something to train with the coming period. We both went at it again and succeeded in doing that extra turn at the end. Pleased with the results I called it a day and went home and just made it there before midnight.

I like to thank Eric and his fellow freedivers for having me over, it was a great learning experience and good overall results to feel good about.

Repetitive training & technique

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That was some proper training at the Tongelreep, Eindhoven last night. Both Jorg and I had been planning to continue the good training from the week before, so we were determined to get the alignment on the next level by getting some distance in.

Distance not in the maximum performance, but in just set distances and more repetitions. Jorg set his schedule to 37,5 meters and repeated this 4 times. I set my distance at 75 meters and repeated this 2 times. I think I should up the repetitions before upping the distance, but I am still to find the right distance to improve from. I’m thinking to up the set distance to 87,5 meters for several reasons:

  • I always have to make the turn
  • I surface at the side edge of the pool
  • Winning the mental game towards a wall

I have noticed that technique also improves my freediving time as follows: When I do the constant cycle of kicking, it will take about 17 seconds for 25 meters and when I do the kick-kick-kick-glide, it will take about 20-21 seconds for 25 meters. Later in the training I did the kick-kick-kick-glide again and now the technique was better because of a constant motion in the complete cycle, now the time was around 18-19 seconds for 25 meters. Same effort more speed… I have to focus on getting into the proper technique straight away for the motion cycle.

I’ve included the video from last training for Lubomir Stefanoff to see the progress on the alignment better.


Alright the goals for next training are set then ;). I’ll be doing 2 or 3 times a 87,5 meters dynamic with monofin and see if this can be a thing I get consistent in. Rest of the training will focus on technique runs and times 25 and 50 meter runs.

Flow vs Technique

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There is a big difference at the moment between trying to execute a correct technique with a monofin and enjoying being underwater with a monofin. If I really focus on technique, relaxation is very far away and vice versa.

I was already struggling with this for the last past weeks. While doing a lot of technique training I noticed it was a while since I last felt in a flow state underwater. So yesterday it was time to make a small change.

From now on I divide my monofin training in technique and flow training. The first part will be dedicated in correct execution of style and technique including alignment (I really need a weight system, now!) and the second part will  be dedicated to relaxation and getting in a flow state of mind.

The tests yesterday showed that the two are still miles away and of course the goals is to bring technique and flow more together in the coming time. This will for sure not be done in a couple of weeks, but I’m sure that if we continue like this it will become months instead of years.

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