CTW Comp Training & Mental Focus

 In Adventure, Best of, Depth Training, Renee's Journal, Training for Freediving, Training for Freediving

Last training day before the competition, I woke up rested and sleepy, I'd fallen asleep while listening to Erick Brown's Sports Hypnosis audiobook which had plunged me into a very "deep, deep, sleep,"... When I awoke come morning, it felt like I just came out of a coma.

My ultra-relaxed state made for an enjoyable morning meditation. Using my Headspace app, I had started the Focus Pack, and for 15 minutes was guided through shifting my focus from one area of the body to another, then another, and another and so on... The objective, as instructed, was to come from a place of spaciousness and lightness and create a very soft focus, which was essentially a more sustainable focus. Being that it's near impossible to sustain an intense focus for a long period of time, the exercise was to practice a more effective focus with softness in it.

Another ingredient in training mental focus, which Andy speaks about in the introduction, is that of curiosity, of having genuine interest. He says "You'll know from your own experience that it's really easy when you're engaged in something that you're really enjoying, like watching a good film, you don't need to think about being focused, you simply are focused. You're engaged with it. It's when we're not so interested, when that curiosity falls away, that the focus starts to be compromised in some way" In the exercise I paused just briefly on each point of the body, so there wasn't much time to inquire and practice being "curious" but throughout the exercise, there were spaces of silence, allowing me the opportunity to apply a bit more curiosity.

It was interesting pausing in each area of my body, just being curious to see what I would find. The areas of my feet, naval and solar plexus were light and relaxed, whereas my chest, throat and brow felt tight and heavy. I tried not to think so much about each area but just noticed it, becoming aware of how it felt.

After my incredible meditation, morning preparations, and healthy breakfast (fresh apple juice and chia seeds), I packed my things and headed to the Blue Hole, even after my coma-like sleep I was feeling a bit run-down and tired, but was still in good spirits to train. Competition day was approaching and I was looking forward to one last training in order to fine tune my constant weight diving.

My first warm-up dive was absolutely amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed and felt extremely relaxed. The following two FRC warm-ups weren't as relaxing as the first, I was a bit more tense, possibly because I was doing my breathe-ups face-down breathing through a snorkel instead of face-up, maybe this position had me be not as comfortable and relaxed, possibly I exhaled too much air before the dive...I wasn't quite sure.

Come my final deep dive I was quite cold and in shivers. My Oceaner 3mm suite was being repaired so I was wearing my black Freedivers suite which was heavily worn in and thin. Nick gave me an eight minute count-down which seemed likeages, just two minutes into it my entire body was terribly cold and trembling, I had trouble relaxing my mind and obviously my body, and was full of tension and stress. Then I remembered the meditation from earlier and decided to give it a try, with closed eyes I moved my focus very lightly and fluidly from my feet, to the naval, solar plexus, chest, throat, brow and six inches above the head...and back down again, creating a kind of focus-flow... My body and mind relaxed, the shivers became unnoticed...

"Official top" came before I knew it, and when ready, I took a big breath and duckdived. As I descended I realized that my dive computer was on my wrist instead of inside my hood. I became worried, oh no would I hear my depth alarms? Then I relaxed, there was nothing I could do now, I kept on, undulating into the deep everlasting blue. Very faintly, I heard my depth alarm, and gratefully filled my mouth, but then realized that my arms were still overhead, I gently and fluidly swept them through, the mouthfill was unaffected, thankfully. Seconds later I began my free-fall, fingers lightly around the line, lightly finning as I descended. As I drifted deeper into the sea, my mind drifted away and my body relaxed more and more.

The 56M depth alarm jolted me awake, and immediately after my hand hit the ball with swift speed, I reminded myself, grab the tag! It took a moment to find it, but finally I did and began to ascend, closing my eyes, opening only occasionally to check my position.

I felt anxious on the way up, especially when my legs began burning from the increased levels of carbon dioxide. About 18 meters from the surface it became near unbearable, so I let up on the kicking and swept my arms through to my sides, drifting upwards while finning as minimal as possible. When I arrived at the buoy, I gripped it and did my recovery breathing and surface protocol, possibly not in the appropriate order...

My initial thoughts about the dive was that it hadn't been as easy, at least not as easy as the constant weight dives before it. Immediately I tried to think of ways of how to fix this and what went wrong... Was is the countdown? Or maybe I was too cold? Did I start my free-fall too early? I didn't know the answer or even what to expect of myself for competition day, but decided that I'd announce an easy and comfortable depth, in order to keep anxiety at bay, and also so that I could enjoy! Afterall, I freedive to enjoy, and to learn, and discover, not to stress and have anxiety.

I looked around me, at the incredible seascape, all my friends training nearby, and at Nick, how lucky am I? To be here, right here and now in this incredible place with incredible people. Yes, I'll partake in this competition, but only to play, and have fun and to challenge myself.

Time Chart of 55.6 Meter CWT Dive

Depth (Descent) Time Increment Depth (Ascent) Time Increment
0 Meters 0:00 0 Meters 1:59 10 sec.
10 Meters 0:09 9 sec. 10 Meters 1:49 10 sec.
20 Meters 0:21 12 sec. 20 Meters 1:39 10 sec.
30 Meters 0:32 11 sec. 30 Meters 1:29 10 sec.
40 Meters 0:44 12 sec. 40 Meters 1:19 10 sec.
50 Meters 1:55 11 sec. 50 Meters 1:09 8 sec.
55.6 Meters 1:02 7 sec. 56.6 Meters 1:02

Dive Details

Date: August 23, 2016
Loc: Blue Hole, Dahab
Disc: FIM
Target: 55M to ball - achieved

Suit: 3MM Black Freedivers
Weights: 1kg neckweight, 1kg belt
Buddy: Nick
Breakfast: apple, hot fruit drink
AM Feeling: sleepy but well

Warm-Ups:
#1: 19.7M FIM no mask, 1'14"
#2: 26.2M FRC, 1'29"
#3: 24.2M FRC, 1'22"

DIVE: 55.6M
Dive Time: 1'59"
Descent Time: 1'02"
Ascent Time: 57"
Speed: .9344
Descent Speed: .8968
Ascent Speed: .9754

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Showing 2 comments
  • Lisa
    Reply

    Love your journal entries Renee, thank you so much for sharing them! Do you notice an effect of being cold onto your breath hold abilities?

    Cheers,
    Lisa

    • Renee Blundon
      Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for reading, really glad to share my experiences whenever I can :)

      Yes, being cold while freediving can be quite tough! The heart-rate is higher because it’s pumping more blood to try and warm you up, then if shivering sets in can be quite difficult to relax before the dive.

      I try to avoid diving when I’m cold because I get very tense and then the chance of having a lung squeeze are much higher, so beware of that!

      Hope that helps! Feel free to comment or email me if you have any other questions.

      Happy diving!

      -Renee

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