We’ve been in Kalamata training for just over a week now. When we first arrived, the water temperature felt so much colder than in Sharm. It was 26 degrees on the surface compared with 29 degrees in Sharm and so I quickly switched from my 1mm wetsuit top to my 3mm. The colder water really helped my dive response kick in and I was doing really nice Free Immersion dives to 52 metres. I haven’t trained Free Immersion much so I spent the week working on just this discipline and seeing how much I could push my body. But after the first few days of really nice dives, the water temperature was dropping fast and few people were getting clean dive results. There was a huge percentage of early turns during the Constant Weight Competition (with a monofin). At 50 metres, the temperature was 20 degrees, 9 degrees colder than in Sharm, and my dives were getting harder and harder each day.
Finally, the day before the Free Immersion competition I went out to do my dive and I could not stop shivering. I tried to ignore the cold as I was breathing up but today was just too cold. I went for my dive and it started off really well. By the time I reached 40 metres the thermocline hit me hard and although it nicely pre-occupied my mind, the journey from 40 metres down to the bottom was just too cold and I came back to the surface and had a samba (un-controllable muscle spasm due to hypoxia – or lack of oxygen). This would have been a disqualification if it had been a competition because I did not make the surface protocol cleanly, to let my safety divers (or judges if it had been in a competition) know I was okay.
The cold water at depth caused tension in my body which used up vital oxygen and also resulted in a very tiny lung squeeze. It wasn’t a bad squeeze at all but I could feel that my lungs were not 100%. Not a great result the day before a competition day! So after much contemplation, I decided the best decision would be to not compete. I based my decision on two big lessons I’ve learnt over the summer. The first is to always listen to your body. If it’s not feeling right, then don’t dive. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a competition dive if your body or head is not in it. Secondly, you have your whole life to compete. Progress will come so don’t rush it. There’s always tomorrow and thankfully for me, there was also last month where I got a good world ranking in Constant Weight to end my season of depth training with a smile.
It’s been a great summer and I’ve learnt a huge amount about freediving and also about how to train properly. I’ve built a solid foundation in all three depth disciplines and so I’m excited to see how I progress. But for now, it’s time to head back to London where I look forward to having a much needed break in my freediving. Although I have a feeling that I won’t be able to stay out of the water for very long!
Enjoy the blue and I hope to see you there soon.