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EXCLUSIVE: Scubaverse interviews Mike Benke, Hungarian Freediving record holder

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Mike Benke

For those of you who don’t know you Mike, can you please tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Mike Benke, I am a Hungarian Freediver living in Manchester, UK. I am 49 years old. I’ve been training with my Coach Steve Millard of Apneists UK for many years now.

How did you get into Freediving in the first place?

I was a Scuba instructor, so when I came to the UK I joined a Scuba school in Manchester where Steve was the Manager. I did some Scuba trips but really was intrigued by what the Freedivers were doing in the club. It looked like a real sport rather than a hobby. It interested me as I have participated in sport to a high level before, being the National Hungarian Champion in Modern Pentathlon many years ago, and I still felt up for a challenge.

Who is your hero in the sport and why?

William Trubridge. As well as enjoying the no fins disciplines, and he leads the way in depth, I am also impressed with the way he portrays the sport of Freediving in his videos and article releases. They are truly impressive, and help to get many more people into the sport. He is an inspiration to me.

What is your greatest personal achievement in the sport of Freediving?

My four Hungarian records, and also the second place I achieved in the Great Northern International Competition in Liverpool.

What is your favourite discipline, or type of Freediving?

I really enjoy the no fins diving. It is a pure way of diving.

What do you think about, and how does it feel on a big performance dive?

I try and empty my mind, and relax. Focus on good sensations, when negative sensations come, try and relax and think of positive thoughts, and forget any negative thoughts. It’s all about relaxing throughout every part of the dive, and enjoying the really good bits.

Outside of Freediving itself, what discipline / sport / activity do you do that that helps your Freediving the most?

If I have to pick one type of training only, then swimming helps me the most. It gives you a feel for the water, and makes you feel at home and really works the muscles in the right way.

Where is the most beautiful place you have dived or your most memorable dive?

Dahab. I love the warm clear water, I love the relaxed atmosphere. It is a true joy diving there.

For success in Freediving competitions and records, what do you think are the most important things for an aspiring diver to do to be successful?

Consistent training. That is the main key to success. And other things obviously but if I had to pick one. Pick a club and Coach that allow this progression as I have done. Red letter day experiences and quick holiday courses cannot provide the opportunities to improve to high levels or even enjoy the sport properly. Can you Freedive and then find a club? Or is it better to learn to Freedive and then find a holiday? The second one is true.

Do you have any solid goals in 2014 / 2015? 

I want to continue to improve in the pool. I am competing in the Manchester competition on the 29th November at Grand Central pool ( http://www.freedivingcompetition.com/stockport-2014.html ) but I have an eye on really improving my depth disciplines. Training in the UK can be difficult when based so far from deep water. But I will fit depth training in any time I can, and hopefully do a couple of Apneists UK trips and clinics abroad to help me.

What equipment do you use for training?

I have an Aqua Sphere mask, and an Aqua Sphere winter Aqua Skin suit – it is by far the best suit I have ever worn. It helped me to my recent Hungarian Dynamic National record. I have owned a Leaderfin Hyper and an old waterway mono fin. But the record was done in a Starfin. I’m looking to invest in a new fin in 2015.

Here is a video of Mike’s Dynamic record:

[youtube id=”stdcZvn4HTk” width=”100%” height=”400px”]

To find out more about Apneists UK, visit www.freedivers.co.uk.

Steve Millard is a leading UK based AIDA and PADI Freediving Instructor Trainer who is the owner of Apneists UK freediving group - www.freedivers.co.uk. Currently Press officer to the British Freediving Association and Performance mermaids lead coach.

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Announcing the Winners of Scubaverse’s November 2022 Underwater Photo & Video Contests

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Another bumper month packed with amazing images and videos from around the world! It has certainly been another great month for entries in both contests – your underwater photos and videos are just getting better and better! Thanks to all who entered.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s November 2022 Underwater Photo Contest is, click here.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s November 2022 Underwater Video Contest is, click here.

If you’re not a winner this month, then please do try again. December’s photo and video contests are now open.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s December 2022 Underwater Photo Contest, click here.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s December 2022 Underwater Video Contest, click here.

Good luck!!!

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Dive Training Blogs

Tips for… Refreshing Skills

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A hugely important subject, and one that should be considered by any diver regardless of your training level. Just like anything, sometimes life gets in the way, we get sidetracked and before you know it, it’s been 2 months out of the water. It may not seem like a lot, but we naturally start to forget things when they are not used. We slow down our actions as we are out of practise and have to think a little more in order to retrieve the information to help make decisions.

There’s nothing wrong with this of course, we cannot always be diving! But it is important that we refresh before getting straight back into it. We obviously conduct a lot of refresher courses here at the dive centre, but we are also realistic, knowing that not everyone will want to pay to refresh their skills with an instructor. That’s also fine too, just be sensible.

Our tips for this would be the following; some will likely seem a little common sense… but it’s always good to have a reminder right?!

First off, when getting back to diving, choose a buddy that you usually dive with or someone that has a higher level of competency in diving. This will give you the reassurance in the water and not have to be worrying about the others person whilst getting back into it yourself.

Secondly, choose a site that you know. Don’t be jumping straight in having seen an amazing new site that you want to try out… that can wait for another time. You have already had a break in your actual diving, without having to then also consider navigating and a new dive plan.

Next, try to leave out the brand new equipment. It’s great that getting back into diving you have decided to buy yourself a new drysuit, fins and BCD, but it all might be a little bit much. Let’s concentrate on just getting back into the water and then move onto those new additions. This kind of change can make even the best of divers anxious.

Last but not least, there’s nothing wrong with staying shallow. Our first dive to get back into it, does not need to break our dive depth record. Stay shallow, enjoy the marine life at this depth, and keep the dive nice and easy. Practise those skills if you would like to, make sure you know where all your equipment is positioned and get comfortable. The ocean isn’t going anywhere… there’s always tomorrow to get in for another!


Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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