Training with the fin swimmers

It is Saturday morning, 6 o'clock and the alarm is waking me up. There must be a mistake why would it do that? It is time to get up to go to training.

So me and Elisabeth grab the mono fins and get going after a small breakfast. We meet outside the pool of the FEZ Berlin with a bunch of fin swimmers who look equally happy about the fact to be starting training on a Saturday morning close to 8 o'clock.

Everybody shuts up when the coach arrives. Volko Kucher is an ex-coach of the national fin swimming team and he seems a bit surprised to actually see me. On the phone he had told me that this training would be the only possibility to join the training during the week that Elisabeth is visiting me.

So we get in the water while the rest of the fin swimmers is getting into their tough training. I have searched Volko's council at the beginning of this year short after I got my first mono fin. Then, Volko was kind of skeptic whether a guy in my age would be able to get into the wave anyways, but he gave me some well received tips.

Soon after he tells us to start with diving dolphin kicks on the back (no fin) he looks at me amazed. Obviously I surprised him with my improvement. He tells me to use more tension in the body in order to turn that wave into a better propulsion, keep the knees together and kick down as much as up.

When we put on our fins and do some actual diving, he comes back with some more hints. He cannot help but tell me that I would really look like a fin swimmer now. He is timing me a couple of times. 26 s for 50m. That is fast for me and due to the extra hard up kick. The I do another one in 24s. That is way too fast because my legs are getting lactic. But it is good training. Good for the technique and good for the feeling.

Elisabeth enjoyed the training just as I did. Only she gets fewer tips. Actually it is only one, really. Increase the amplitude of your kick. If she was German, I am not sure if Volko would not try to get her on his team.

While the swimmers are doing their last laps, Elisabeth and I are going crazy taking pictures in the beautiful pool.

Then, it is Saturday morning 10 o'clock. Time for breakfast and maybe some sleep...


Wreck diving at the Baron Gautsch

I totally forgot to post the second wreck dive that me and Elisabeth did in Croatia this summer. So here is a little teaser in case you are not decided about where to go on your next free diving holydays.

The Baron Gautsch was an Austrian cruise liner that happened to run into a freshly laid-out mine field just at the beginning of the conflict that later developed to World War I in 1914.

The day we went, the sea was very nice to us. She was flat as a pancake. No wind, no current and a visibility that you can only dream of! After a 40 min ride on a rubber zodiac we reached the spot. The scuba divers went in first and Marco, the guide from the dive center, set an extra buoy just for us at the stern of the boat.

After the first warm-up descents to 10-15m we could already see the ship because it is huge! The wreck spans over nearly 100m and as I said, the visibility ways just fantastic.

As we went deeper the scuba divers where coming up, slowly approaching toward the surface. Marco was taking some nice pictures when he was sitting on the wreck waiting for us.

One time I almost bumped into him when he was hanging on the rope but he took a nice picture how I came gliding down. I then decided to make the dive a dynamic in -20m across half the ship. It was breathtaking... ;)

On my last real decent there I was going to straight down to the stern of the ship (-28m). There I swam over to the portside and down the hull. I could look into the wreck but did not dear to go inside. I then went on to the bottom (-31m) and around the stern toward the starboard side where I made my way back up to where the rope was attached. On my way back up I know that this was the best dive in my life and it was worth all the hassle with training under bad conditions in dark and murky lakes. This was what I am freediving for. When Elisabeth met me for safety she was greeted with a biiiiig smile.

Too bad thought that we where both really tired and still had to detach the rope down there. Elisabeth went down coz I just dived and when she came up I realized that the rope got stuck after some meters again. So I was going down to the ship (again) and hastily flung the rope around some metal parts it got stuck at.

On the way back on the zodiac I was just high. That same day we went diving at the tunnels just in the bay of Pula. So if you'd ask me about the perfect diving day, I can name it.


100 m DYN in training

So today was the first training after I cought a cold in Danmark. I was really not happy about the fact that I did not get to train too much lateley because the Long Night of Apnea is drawing ever closer.

But then!!! HAHA! After the usual warm-up (400m swim) and bustimng my ass doing the dolphin kick without a fin (8x25m) I did my technique training with the fin (6x50m) and that felt so good and easy that I decided to have a little break and do a max dive...
I did 100 m DYN then! And it felt goood! It felt like, why not making the turn...

I am so, so happy. All this training did have an effect and I really feel like I can improve once more.

I must admit a lot of that is due to the excelent coaching and training of Elisabeth. She is really good in finding out what is going wrong and how to fix it.

So I'm very much looking forward to the competition now.


Testing another Counter Ballast System

When I was in Lysekil I participating in the first real life test of a counter ballast system (CBS) and it became clear to me that we will need more of these tests in order to gather more information and gain a better understanding of how these things work.

As I have been building a CBS on my own for the competition in Wildschütz I was even more curious (and a little nervous) about the outcome of this test. The set up is quite like in Lysekil. We drop the bottom plate to -40m. Wolle is going down with a lanyard around his waist. He is wearing no fins.

50 seconds after he dived in I feel a pull on the rope, the signal for the release of the CBS. As the counter ballast is being dropped on the other side of the platform I am watching the rope fall into the green water and wait for the first pull up. The weight on the bottom plate is 15 kg the counter ballast is 30 kg. Two men are pulling the rope on the platform to increase speed.

I am diving in to observe the scene while the safety divers are going for Wolle. When I see him he looks very calm and relaxed just like Stig did on the first test hanging on the rope. Only at the second glance I see that he is actually holding on to the lanyard with one hand.

Later Wolle told me that the waist belt holding the lanyard was too thin. He feared that it would break and that is why he grabbed the lanyards end. So it is necessary not only to check the lanyard but also the way it is attached to the body. That was the problem in Lysekil as well.

1’04 after we released the CBS Wolles head pops out of the water. Total dive time 1’54. That means we took 64 seconds to pull up a diver from 40 meters of depth. Is that too slow? I was hoping to end up at 1 m/s but that was not possible here.

On the first day when I tested the CBS with no diver attached I had the impression everything was running much smoother. Now, after the rope was in the water over night it must have been swelling and that caused friction on the rear pulley.

The next day we put some extra weight on the counter ballast. Whether that would help to speed up the process of retrieval I do not know. As Sebastian said, more speed can also create more problems. 40 m is a relatively shallow depth in regards to what the athletes where diving that day. Greater depth means longer dives, means longer before you know something went wrong, means longer before you act and longer before you have the person out of the water.

Maybe the answer is to release the CBS after 60 % of the estimated dive time and bring it up until the diver surfaced. Maybe this is all just overrated and I am thinking too much about the unlikeliest of events.

Ideas, comments, thoughts? Please share them with me.


Friendly Jelly

When I was in Lysekil at the Nordic Deep I had some nasty encounters with that wobbling mass that is called a fish… jellyfish. (The English language is so poor that they have to call everything that lives in the sea a fish… tsiss…)

I was not very happy about that meeting and it left a somewhat negative impression on me. I was quite happy to know that my next competition in Wildschütz would be in fresh water. I was just getting ready to be judge in the water when this guy came along.

I first did not trust my eyes but it was really there. Craspedacusta sowerbyi obviously is some kind of Asian invader. They are tiny (10-15mm) and they have no stinging tentacles and they are cute! I started playing with them and we became real good friends. The nasty episode from sweeden now has a counterpart and my understanding of nature is in balance once again. Thank you, Craspedacusta sowerbyi.


Training in Århus, home of the champs

No, this is not a scene from a competition. This is a very normal training day in the Århus Freediving Club, Denmark. As my most favorit mermaid is studying here I have the chance to train with these guys and I would be stupid not to take that.

I totally understand now why the Danes are the reigning team world champion! The atmosphere is just wonderful and very productive. It is actually hard to loose motivation when there is someone putting his head under water all the time.

So we start with mono fin technique. Without the fin... :( So its more like mono technique no fin (MTNF). My first attempts are rather bad. I am very stiff and kicking hard with the legs to make it to the other side of the pool. Then Elisabeth shows me the video and starts correcting the movement.

And yes, one can actually see the beginning of a wave going through my body. I did not make it through the pool but the technique looks so much better there. I was so happy about the improvement that I had to put on a fin and try thins again.

Comparing it to the first training videos I posted here, I can say I am very happy! Comparing it to Elisabeth's technique video I can say I am crap!

PS: Never mind the green color. It's the light, not the water... ;)


3rd Copenhagen Open

This weekend I had the pleasure to be a athlete again at a competition. That was quite nice after being involved in organizing and judging the last couple of weeks.

Due to the lack of training (just started a new job) my performances where lousy (except for one PB in DNF)! For some reason I had in my head that there will be a second attempt for static on Sunday which made me give up my "first" and only attempt after 3:41 and then the next day I almost threw up during dynamic. Must have eaten something strange...

Never the less I enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere and was very glad to see so many of my Danish friends again and meet some new people.

It was also a pleasure to meet Peter Boivie again who I took the judge course with in Maribor and who made me eat strange rotten Swedish fish in Lysekil.