Becoming a Master Freediver at Fusion Freedive in Bali

I flew to Bali with only one thing in my mind. That was to become a better freediver. I made my way to a town called Amed where I decided to try to get to Fusion Freedive school to become a certified Master Freediver.

The coming weeks would be physically and mentally challenging with quite  a few ups and downs. The underlying fact would be that I learned a lot and had a blast! Nicholas Kouvaras (instagram) was my main teacher and Kevin the best freedive school (instagram) boss imaginable. I highly recommend the school for anyone in Bali wanting to dive down a rope or go spearfishing (which is Kevin’s greatest passion).

This post will basically list my daily practice diary where I kept track of all the exercises I did. Perhaps it can be useful to you. I had to prolong my course quite a bit due to repeating ear infections. So, keep your ears clean and practice consciously and you can probably avoid the mistakes I made during my training. Enjoy!

Freediving Practice Diary

-2 day: Assessment day 1. Water session

Static diaphram breathing
2 warm up dives to get used to the contractions
1 dive to practice finning
1 dive to 20+ meters CW
1 unsuccesfull dive due to pain in sinuses

-1 Day: Assessment day 2. Static pool

• Static Apnea
     – short effortless inhale followed by relaxed long inhale
     – 4th hold the longest
     STATIC HOLD IN WATER 3:54min
• Few dynamic apnea tries
     2×16 meters (EASY)
     4×16 meters (COMFORTABLE)
     4×16 meters = 48 meters (TIRED)
END OF EXERCISE

DAY 1: Static CO2 Practice in pool

Succesfully finished
LAST TIME 3 minutes

DAY 2: Dynamic Practice in pool: Sprints

Interval training. 4 Sets with 4 repetitions in each. Free recovery time between sets.
FAILED
NOTES FOR NEXT TIME:
• Eat something before
• Warm up legs
Interval training
Set
Repetitions
Distance (meters)
Goal Time (seconds)
Recovery (seconds)
Success / time
1
4
48
40
90
yes / 40
2
4
48
35
105
no / 39s
3
4
48
30
120
no / 40s
4
4
48
Max.
Unlimited
– / 40 s
Fast and Slow. 1 pool length as fast as possible. 2 pool length as slow as possible.
Free recovery time.
Repetitions
Distance (m)
Time
2
32

DAY 3: Rest

Visiting relatives on the next beach. A lot of food, pizza and bread. 😃
 

DAY 4:

Ear infection.
Theory day.

DAY 5:

Ear infection.
Theory + coaching static apnea + streching with empty lungs and full lungs.
NEW ACTION: STRETCH WITH EMPTY & FULL LUNGS
STATIC PRACTICE ON DRY LAND:
Succesfully finished
LAST TIME around 3:15 minutes.
LAST 5 Statics 3:05 – 3:15 min.
LAST Static 3:15-3:20 min

 DAY 6:

Ear infection.
Squads and elastic strength training for legs
Jumping squad
set
repetitions
1
20
2
20
3
20
4
20
Elastic band:
forward
backward
side – left
side – right
1
20
20
20
20
2
20
20
20
20
3
20
20
20
20
4
20
20
20
20
Exhale push-ups
(easy style push-up)
Exhale push-ups
(easy style push-up)
20
20
20
20

DAY 7:

Ear infection. Morning was easy but the pain returned at night. Jaw muscle and ear are very sore.
Morning:
Yoga 2h, Pranayama 30min, meditation 1h.
Evening:
Yoga 1.5h, pranayama 30min, meditation 1h.
 

DAY 8:

Ear Infection day 5.
Wim Hoff breathing exercise (Not instructed by the coach)
I DID THE PRACTICE WRONG. I FORGOT TO EXHALE, hence the long holding times. 🙂
NOTE: Wim Hoff uses hyperventilation in many of his exercises. All major freediving organizations teach not to hyperventilate when practicing freediving due to the dangers it involves. Biggest reason being that you will not realize when you are about to pass out (which is not good underwater). For more information ask your freediving instructor. This piece of information was for me the major decision for leaving behind the teaching methods of Apnea Total.
Round
Deep breath – let go exhale
hold breath
exhale, inhale, hold 15s
1
40 times
4:00 min
15s
2
40 times
4:30 min
15s
3
40 times
5:00 min
15s
4
40 times
5:30 min
15s
1 hour of meditation – 10 third eye, 50 min vipassana
Walking apnea on the beach
Walking backwards for 45-50 seconds.
Walking apnea
Hold time
Recovery
45s
2:00
51s
1:30
55s
1:00
48s
30s
49s
20s
46s
11s
44s
7s
Walking Distance:
1:14s
 

DAY 8:

Ear infection: day 6.
Wim Hoff breathing exercise with exhale at the end (Not instructed by the coach):
Round
Deep breath – let go exhale
After last breath exhale all.
hold breath
long exhale, inhale,
hold 15s
1
40 times
1:30 min
15s
2
40 times
2:00 min
15s
3
40 times
2:15 min
15s
4
40 times
2:50 min
15s
1 hour of meditation – vipassana

DAY 9:

Ear infection: day 7. Changed to new ear drops.
Went to listen to some music in GRIYA. Finnish owners at a luxury hotel.

DAY 10 (30.4.2017)

Ear infection: day 8. Light yoga and meditation.
Saturday. Dinner at local restaurant with divers.

DAY 11:

Ear infection: day 9. Drops working. Jaw not hurting anymore. Still blocked.
First water training.
Static Apnea. New PB 4:30
Program on the left. Funny detail and a typo when holding time jumped from 3:00 to 4:00 and then back to 3:45.

DAY 12:

Ear infection:
Pool session. Strength training with noodle on the surface.
Fastest time on the 1:40 training.
Practice in 16m pool
Accessories: Noodle (floating device)
8 x laps warm-up with noodle
2 Sets:
1 set normal tempo, ends with fast
2 set fast tempo, ends with max speed
EVERY LAP FASTER THAN THE PREVIOUS
1. Set: 4 x 2 laps (ends fast speed)
2. Set: 4 x 2 laps (ends Max speed)
REST after 2 laps:
60 seconds
4 Laps slow ( recovery )
4 x 6 laps
Every 1:40 min start new set.
Go fast = rest more
REMOVE FINS
8 Laps Any style ( NO FINS )
Stretching

DAY 13:

Ear infection: No pain, just little bit of liquid in the outer ear and soft vax. Slightly blocked ear canal.
Resting day. Vipassana. Evening yoga.

DAY 14: Diving with a blackout

Ear infection: No problems.
8:30 morning dive on 50 meter line. Andy, Becky, Val and me.
Really strong current. The first 10 meters of the line were in 45 degree angle.
• 2 warm up dives to 10 meters. Trouble equalizing my right (the ”good”) ear.
• 3rd dive to 15-20 meters. Strong ocean made it strong experience. Hard to relax.
On Val’s 3rd dive she came to visible part (15-20meteres) kicking very fast, shoulders tense, on the sides.
Between 5-10 meters she exhaled bubbles out of her mouth.
At 5 meters Andy met her. That is where she blacked out and had seizures. Andy brought her to the surface, took of her mask, said ”Valerie breath” and blew on her face. She recovered after twitching and very uneven breathing.
Andy took her to shore.
I did my last dive and returned to the beach with Becky.
Ocean was strong but with respect approachable.
Personal notes
If I (as a safety diver) see a person tense while coming up I will dive down immediately to meet him / her.
 
New thing I learned today !
 
• When I turn up at the bottom I am suppose to yank the line to let the safety know I am heading up.
 • As a safety diver that is the signal for me to dive down.

DAY 15: Diving

• warm-up dives
• 3 x 30 meters
Equalizing too strong. I kept making noise, using too much force.
The last dive I did not equalize properly the last meters so pressure accumulated. No strong pain but i didn’t want to dive more since my ear felt tired.
Photo by Nicholas Kouvaras

DAY 16: (5.5.2017) Static Apnea

Static training in pool. PB: 5:30 min
Slight samba at the end but able to recover, take of nose clip and give “OK” sign.
Recovery
Hold
2:30
2:00
3:00
2:00
3:30
2:00
4:00
2:30
4:30
5:00
Max: 5:30
Slight samba at the end but able to recover, take of nose clip and give “OK” sign.

DAY 17: (5.5.2017) Dynamic Apnea

Same table as on day 2. Unlimited break between sets.
FILL THIS AGAIN:
Interval training
Set
Repetitions
Distance (meters)
Goal Time (seconds) /
RESULT
Recovery (seconds)
Success
1
4
48
40 / 42, 40, 39, 40s
90
Yes
2
4
48
35 / 39, 38, 37, 35s
2:25
Yes-
4
4
48
Max / 35, 35, 35, 36
2:00
35 s
break
5
4
32 (2 laps)
First Max & second Slow as possible
Unlimited
ok

DAY 18: Return of Ear infection

In the evening it felt strange. At night there was slight pain. At midday it’s blocked again, up to the jaw.
Searching for antibiotics.

 DAY 19: (9.5.2017) Antibiotics

Strong pain. Started eating antibiotics last night. Topping it all up with new round of ear drops.
100th Trash hero Bleach Clean-up day. Went to collect some straws and other plastics from the beach.

DAY 20: Rest

Less pain but still hurts toward the evening.
 

DAY 21: Visa run to Malaysia and back

Wrooom! 22hours of traveling. Motorbike to airport. Flight to Kuala Lumpur. 4 layover and back.
Returned to own bed at 5 a.m

DAY 22: Planning and learning

Ear infection: water plopping inside. I think the ear drops turn ear wax into liquid so the whole ear is ’plopping’. Still occasional sharp stings of pain. Today I try to be the last day with ear drops. Antibiotic pills were finished yesterday morning.
Learning about SEO and having visions how to improve Fusion website and create a strategy around their social & business content. Kind of enjoyable, imagination and then hard work. It remains to be seen if I ever get to the work part.

DAY 23: Light training

Last day of antibiotic drops.
Some leg training: Squads and rubber band.

DAY 24: 13.5. Walk apnea

Ear still plopping. Stopped using drops. Slight pain. Fuck
Walking apnea
Hold & walk time (min)
Recovery (min)
1:02
2:00
1:18
2:00
1:42
2:00
1:30
11:00 (toilet)
1:45
Walked each time further.
1st hold: 1,25 laps
last hold 2,5 laps

DAY 25: Resting day (sunday)

Ear: plopping
Cleaned my ear slightly with a cotton bud.
Plopping ended.
 

DAY 26: Resting day (monday 15.5.)

plopping stopped But pain returned. Not strong pain but pain.
Started eating chicken and fish to give body new ways to recover.

DAY 27: Resting day

Ear: Slight pain.
Static apnea: Lying on the floor.
Recovery
Hold
2:00
2:30
1:47
2:30
1:30
2:40
1:15
2:40
1:00
2:45
45s
2:45
30s
2:45
15s
2:45

DAY 28: Resting day

Slight pain in the ear. small plopping.
Toworrow I want to go for it. Do I get to do what I want remains to be seen.
Morning yoga, vipassana and chanting.
Evening breathing exercises and shoulder exercises with an elastic band

DAY 29: Resting day

Resting. Lower right side of back muscle is jammed. (Lack of iron and magnesium)

DAY 30: Diving

2 warmup hangs.
1 x 34m PB
2 practice dives. Finning and body position not so good. Leaning forward a lot.

DAY 31: Rest

Back muscle jammed. Hard to sleep and breath.

DAY 32: Sunday: Diving

Back still quite painful.
FRC training. Deepest 8,5m.
FRC + 1 mouth fill. 14m (?)

DAY 33: Diving

Back a little better.
Finning training. A lot better than before. One side stronger, probably partly due to back issues.
1 FRC test.
Safety diving.
 

DAY 34: Diving

Back kind of stuck ___.
Safety dives for Andrew.
Leg workout in the evening. TRX and Squad jumps and calves on a block.

DAY 35: Rest day

Ear a bit funky. Back getting better.
Legs stuck from training.

DAY 36: Dynamic Apnea PB

Back ok, legs sore.
Static Apnea warmup:
Static apnea
hold
rest
2:30
2
2:50
2
3:10
Dynamic Apnea
20 meter pool
Setup:
• 2mm wetsuit
• 1,5kg weight on belt
• 3 kg on neck
—> Perfect buoyancy
Result
110 meters.

DAY 37: FRC training

26.5.2017
Trying to figure out how to do it.
Got about 8m with exhale
and 14 m with 1 mouth fill.

DAY 38: Rest Day

Super tired.
 

DAY 40: 20 m rescue Diving

Teacher: Andy.
Trained rescue dives from 20 meters and with 1 one fin from 15 meters.
After these dives one student got lung squeeze so we returned to beach.

DAY 41: 20m 1 fin-no mask, FRC, Squeeze and blood

Teacher: Andy.
I learned that I am not suppose to do more than one mouth fill when training FRC. I had forgotten that from my theory books. Well I learned it the hard way when on the swim to the beach I spit blood out of my mouth.
Other student was seasick and started puking after the session.
I did dive up from 20 meters with 1 fin and no mask so that pretty much means my course is complete. I am master freediver with a squeeze on my throat. Not really a winner feeling. 3 days of rest from ocean.
Running out of days in my visa. Don’t think I’m going to extend it.

DAY 42: Rest

Nick, teacher, told 1 week of rest for the squeeze. That means my course is done. Might have time for few gentle dives just before flying out but that’s it.
Frustrating but undeniable fact is that was it, for now.
If I fly out of the country on the last possible moment I have time for 2 days of diving!
RESTDAY 1.

DAY 43: Rest

Work MTF!

DAY 41,42,43,44,45: Rest

DAY 46: Dive with Nick

10m hang
10m hang
15m hang, blood from sinuses – Nose.
20m hang finning up – Blood.
dive attempt. Fail to equalize.
25m CWF. Pressure in sinuses, right size. Turned back. Blood.
NOTES TO SELF: Technique good on the last dive
• Relaxed duckdive
• slightly moving hands on the way down
• Turned because of building pressure in sinuses
• Strong finning back up. Hand relaxed.
• Hardly out of breath on all dives.
Technique notes:
Kick strong without arching back and loosing power by lacking range of motion in kicks.
NOTES: NEED TO BUY NEW MASK. The current one is pushing to my skull just above right eye.
Probably last day pushing the body. Trying to dive tomorrow just because it will be the last chance. With no intention of trying to push it. Just do safety for Andy and enjoy the ocean.
This time body’s physiology didn’t allow me to go the the depths my lungs and mind would have allowed. It is a bit of a shame but the facts and science remain.

DAY 47: Dive with Alex and Andy

10m hang
12m hang
≈ 20m Free imersion + finning up
≈ 25m CWF
≈ 20m long hang
Blood started coming out of my nose again after visit to 20 meter.
Second dive I felt fine but just didn’t trust my sinuses so turned back.
Last hang was my favorite dive. It felt good to be down there looking and listening to the ocean. I felt very relaxed and stayed there for 2-3 minutes. At the surface and back at my place I felt euphoric and very relaxed. I thought it would be my last dive but tomorrow I get to dive one last time for now, for real. After that a night flight to Australia.

DAY 48: Dive with Alex (SWE) and Carolina (AUS)

10m hang 2:45 min
15m hang 2:30-4:00 min
CWT pressure on sinuses at 15m
20-25m hang 2-3min, very relaxed
Lost my snorkel into all the other plastic that was filling the ocean. Last night it rained a lot. Visibility wasn’t too bad, maybe 15-20 meters but the surface was full of leaves, branches and a lot of plastic. Swell must have been big on the surf side of the island since it made it’s way to Jemuluk bay. Complete opposite to yesterday condition.
During the last dives I felt tired and coughed a little. I had no urge to push my dives. Just hanging. Later Nick told me that is hard work for body as well which would explain why I feel very tired after the session.
Time to back up my bags and soon take the overnight flight to Sydney.
Thank you Fusion Freediving, Nick, Kev and the rest of the crew!
free diving in Koh Tao

Freediving course in Koh Tao with Apnea Total

Freediving had been on my mind for a a long time and now I made the conscious push to take a ferry to Ko Tao with only one thing in my mind. Few friends recommended Apnea Total, a freediving school in Koh Tao so a day after arrival I sat in their classroom. (All photos by miaaaaaaaroux.)

I wont go into the details of learning to dive with a single breath. The risks are obvious so I let the instructors and professionals tell you how it’s done. I will say that every body and mind is different the deeper you dive but the same principals apply to everyone. The instructors in Apnea Total know this and have made the teaching a very personal experience.

Here’s the thing. I really don’t have the words to describe diving straight down. It’s a mind game and at the same time so much more.

How to achieve low heart rate? How to move with minimal effort? Relax your body and mind (which uses about 20% of your oxygen).

Breath, take a final breath and dive. Keep focused and relax. But like I told the instructors should teach you this in person. Words can take you only so far. If you are interested of freediving Apnea Total in Koh Tao is a very good place to learn.

The instructor dove each time with me

For now my dive is something as follows. I do a breath up that prepares me for the dive. After final breath I either exhale some of the air out or dive with full lungs. The first 10 meters I go slowly while making sure my ears are equalizing to the pressure that keeps getting stronger. After that the negative buoyancy takes slowly over and I start sinking deeper without any effort. Free falling. Trying to keep streamlined I hopefully gather some speed. If I reach the end of the rope I let my body turn around and start the ascend.

On the way down my mind might be going through many things but on the way up everything is clear. Get to the surface. Relaxed trip back up takes a while so there is time to notice what is going on in my body. The visibility start getting better. More light. Everything gets brighter and brighter and the water warmer until my head breaks the surface and I take first gasp of air while holding to the floating ring. Practiced recovery breathing makes sure I stay conscious.

Breathing feels so nice. I give an ‘Okay’ sign to the instructor and smile. In few minutes time it’s time to do it again.

Can’t wait.