Tag Archives: Depth

Bull sharks at Cuba, Santa Lucia

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Last week I came back from a 9 day-holiday in Santa Lucia, Cuba. The location on Cuba was located at the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere about a 3 hour drive west from Holguin. Although the weather throughout the holiday could have been less rainy, on the day and times we planned some activities the weather was on our side.

20091111-Bullshark-01One of the most breath taking moments we had in the holiday was the opportunity to go scuba diving with bull-sharks. As we were down 25 meters below the surface at a location called La Boca, it was a marvel to look at the bull sharks being hand fed by the diving master. Of course it’s even better to have seen them in their natural environment, without the help of a human touch… But I think wikipedia also describes the bull sharks as dangerous to humans, so for me this was more than a good chance to see them really close. When I write really close I’m talking about within arm’s reach, but I think ‘don’t touch’ had the upper hand in my mind ;).

20091111-Wreck-La-BocaThe day after we had the shark feeding we tagged along to go to La Boca again but now for some freediving, as there also was a wreck on the bottom. The fore was situated approximately 8 meters below, going all the way down to 25 meters for the aft of the ship. As known with wrecks they are invested with fish, having made their habitat of this ship once roaming the seas. The location also featured a tricky timing when you want to freedive without the currents of the changing tides, we had a window of about an hour. It was a very nice spot to go freediving, a lot to see and a perfect training ground to do some different depth’s.

20091111-Cuba-Escalera-Lion-FishIt was a very good training & learning holiday for my girlfriend Marieke, who’s enjoying freediving more and more since our trip to Dahab and Dominican Republic. During this holiday she asked me if she could do some statics to improve her breath hold time and confidence. So this was her first ever static and within 2 or 3 tries she managed to go up to a time of 2m39s. Most impressive and makes me proud! As for depth training, during our trips to Dahab she had been down to the entrance of the fish bowl at the Canyon at 17 meters deep, but at the time she wasn’t confident enough to do more. Now she knows that she could at least hold her breath longer than a minute, her confidence gained. As we were diving the wreck at La Boca she kind of had her mind set on reaching somewhat greater depths, I agreed to swim down to 20 meters with her following me. When I see with how much ease she does these depth’s, I thought to myself there is more than ‘just’ 20 meters.

So later that day when we tagged along another scuba diving boat, we got to go freediving at the same place the scuba divers went down to ‘the stairs’ location. A beautiful coral featuring a stretched coral in the shape of stairs starting from a big plateau at 8 meters, the first drop took you down to 20 meters for the 2nd plateau. The 2nd drop went down into the abyss, which made it an amazing location to freedive.


Marieke now had her new 20 meter personal best and she was easily doing dives to the 2nd plateau, she watched me do a 27 meter dive and was inspired to try a deeper dive as well. So now I took the safety skills acquired in my freediving courses and applied them to her freedive into the deep. I waited at the surface to the point she was 16-18 seconds down and followed her down. At around 15-18 meters I watched her turn and swam up with her to the surface again, where she did a perfect surface protocol and showing a very much easy freedive down to 25 meters in 1 m19s 😮 . All I can say is that I can really learn from Marieke, she showed me a really relaxed and at ease freedive, where-as for myself I tend to sprint down too much.


This was a perfect holiday filled with a lot of under water time, which we both very much love. Above the surface we had a great time at the resort as well, although for our opinion hotels can leave their animation crews at home, because enjoying the rest, sun, reading, sketching and peace of mind isn’t working when these guys are around ;).

Freediving: Eyes open or eyes closed?

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This has been a question for me since I found out that a lot of freedivers just close their eyes when freediving. My normal way of conduct is different per discipline:

  • Static – I start out with my eyes closed, but when the contractions or the boredom starts I usually open my eyes for distraction or no real reason and I’ll be looking around the pool floor.
  • Dynamic with or without fins – I always have my eyes open, if I close them I’ll end up in lane 8 instead of lane 1 where I started. I did try a few times to close them, but it’s a must to re-open them every few meters to stay on track, which in my perception is not bringing extra relaxation to my game.
  • Depth disciplines – I generally do not close my eyes when I freedive into the deep, but as I explained in an earlier post, this had to do with not being able to fully control or anticipate the environment variables.

Why close your eyes?
what_is_freediving_2I’m aware of the fact that whenever you open your eyes, the brain gets extra stimulus on all the images it receives, so closing the eyes sounds like a good idea to have your mind relax and get along with images you control for yourself. Having said that, for me it’s feels like a mandatory thing to really know the variables from the environment I’m freediving in.

Change is good!
So, I’m willing to change my way of the game just to see how much this can help me relax and being able to get my mind at ease with this way of freediving. Over the last two weeks I started closing my eyes in the depth disciplines. As I know now how the bottom setup looks like at the 23 meter deep buoy in Panheel, it’s much easier to freedive descending with my eyes closed. I still need to get used to it and I still haven’t made a depth without ever opening my eyes.

So the next time I’ll visit the outdoors for some depth freedive training I’ll have to make a depth without opening my eyes until I resurface and see how that feels.

Your thoughts, tips or useful info?
What is your way of freediving and dealing with eyes open vs. eyes closed? Please leave your thoughts, tips or useful information in the comments below.

Outdoor freediving session, with super visibility

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20090521-panheel-02-mediumToday Jorg, Yugyug and me met up for a freediving session in Panheel. After we checked the weather was OK, we headed for the Bosmolenplas. Marieke also tagged along to go for a good run, whilst we were freediving. We changed into our suits after we discussed the freediving plan for today.

20090521-panheel-09-mediumFirst up we did some warm-up freedives at the 10m buoy and we were amazed by the super visibility. You could see the platform at 10 meters deep, which doesn’t happen a lot as we recall.

We continued to the PADI-awareness object to see if the Pike was at his usual spot. Unfortunately he wasn’t there, but we spotted some perches around the object.

Next up on our list was the sunken boat, after a small search for the boat we found it and descended to it. It’s a nice object to freedive around, also because there were 3 or more big perches around the boat. Jorg suggested going in the boat, I went down and into the boat. When I turned around inside the boat, I looked out of the window and a perch was observing me. A strange sight, but yet a fun thing to do.

20090521-panheel-41-mediumNow we faced the question of swimming all the way to the 22m deep buoy or just swim to the 35m buoy, which in distance now was closer, because we were at the boat’s location. So we set out to swim there. Jorg was up first and did a nice 20m freedive FIM style. Next up I went down CWT style to the same depth and after my dive I buddied Yugyug, who did a 18m CWT dive in our cold dutch waters 😉

20090521-panheel-52-mediumThe second round Jorg headed down FIM style to 25 meters and yanked the rope on his way back up. Always reminds me of a float which gets pulled down by a fish, but a big fish in this case 😉 AFter that I prepared to go for a deeper freedive also FIM style, but eyes closed for most of the dive. It was somewhere around 16 meters where the rope goes over in a thinner rope, where I started my free fall. All felt good and I made a turn and headed for the surface again. Somewhere around 10 meters depth you could get tangled in the ropes, so I opened my eyes for that part, when I spotted a free floating camera and no Jorg attached. I grabbed my camera and soon after I saw Jorg, just as amazed as I was 😮 Great dive and after re-counting the statistics it must have been around 30 meters depth. After that Yugyug made another freedive to 20 meters and resurfaced with a smile on his face.

20090521-panheel-07-mediumLast but not least we went back to the 10m buoy to make a swim to the lake-entrance from that buoy. As we’ve done this quite a few times, Jorg still manages to turn up 20 meters to the right no where near the lake-entrance, “But next time I’ll get it”, he said. All in all a super outdoor freediving session, making us all excited for more freediving.

We also shot a lot of movie footage, but I’ll edit that later into a small movie clip and put it up on Youtube.

Static at depth schedule & dynamic freediving

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20090509-tongelreep-11-mediumToday we had a freediving session in the Tongelreep in Eindhoven again, where Kostas,Jorg and me were present. Jorg did his static at depth schedule followed by some test with DNF and DYN. Jorg is also into trying the kick-glide technique with the bi-fins, but until now he says that the normal bi-fins stroke seems to keep him more balanced and not all that bored waiting to make a new kick while gliding ;).

His static at depth now has an end time of 1 minute 40 seconds, which makes me very keen on seeing Jorg do more schedules again. Hes really putting in the effort and it seems that he’s regaining confidence.

20090509-tongelreep-12-mediumAfter Jorg’s schedule, Kostas and I were up next to the static at depth challenge. As this is a first timer for Kostas and it’s been a while for me, we set out to do a schedule from 1 minute, 1 minute 10 seconds, 1 minute 20 seconds and a max of 2 minutes to see how that felt. For both me and Kostas it was a nice experience where we were quite relaxed. For myself I can conclude that I was already very cold before even starting the schedule, but I think Jorg and Kostas agree that the water today was slightly colder than usual.

After the static’s Jorg spotted a DNF for me and he noted that my scissor-like movement seems to have disappeared over time. This makes me very happy and now I know the extra training I put into this, has paid off. Kostas did 2 DYN runs after that and still needs to figure a proper speed and fin setup to get the most efficiency from the fins.

I compiled a short movie clip from our freediving training session, check it out:


Panheel: Perches and Pikes

8What a freedive! I do not have any other words for it… Jorg and I went out for a freedive in Bosmolenplas, Panheel. We would have gone to the pool for freedive training, but the weather was extremely nice, so we decided to head for Panheel. The parking lot was filled with Scuba divers, suiting up or their dives. We unpacked and got ready for freediving, getting into the elios suit in the hot sun proved to be challenging 😉

2After we put on the C4’s and masks, we dove down to the first object in the lake, right away we spotted a nice perch hovering around the object. Just cool to see…

Continuing to the 10m buoy to check visibility, we noticed that nothing had changed since the last dive. It had slightly improved to a visibility of 6-7m, but below the 7-8 meters deep it all got blurry and green-ish. So we enjoyed the freediving by making bubble rings, which we had been practicing in the pool for quite a while now. Just an amazing thing to watch these bubble rings.

5On our search for the PADI-object which helps fish and their habitat, we bumped into a pyramid object filled with tiny fish.

After that we found the PADI-object and with that we found the Pike we saw the last time. He was at the same location hovering in between the vegetation, accompanied by a perch family as well.

6As we both felt like doing a little deeper dive, we continued to the 23m buoy to check out the depth’s again. Jorg hasn’t been doing depth since last year June, so we were eager to see how that would feel. After his first reconnaissance freedive he was exhilarated with the ease and enjoyment.

On our way back to the side of the lake we tried to make some more bubble rings and spotted yet another perch… Just so much fun and enjoyment in 1 hour and 35minutes of freediving.

Like I said at the start, what a freedive!