Bottom Time E-Mail News Archives


Edition 6 

Summer is finally here and the lakes are warming up. Vis on most lakes are going through a turnover and should clear up again. Check out dives are starting so we can get a better idea of what vis and temps are running.

We have added a few feature articles by divers in the area that have a passion for different types of diving. Fred Johnson, from Hillsboro ND, is a freediver and is our contributing writer on the subject. I hope you enjoy his passion for the sport of free diving.

Fred Johnson has been freediving seriously for several years and is very comfortable doing a  -60'  breath-hold dive.  He is able to hold his breath for over 3 minutes and although seeing how long he can hold his breath is not his favorite thing to do it does allow him to do his favorite thing and that is freedive!  Training daily throughout this past winter in the pool and on land he has noticed the comfort level at depth increase substantially over last year.  Although Fred prefers to work on extending bottom time at shallower depths he plans to attempt a -100' dive this summer in the waters of Minnesota.  He has done recreational dives with world record trainer Kirk Krack and world record holder Tom Lightfoot (although it was very shallow considering the company) and has studied and applied freediving form from training technics to the physiology of freediving, equipment, and safety.
Descending to depths of an advanced open water diver and beyond and returning to the
surface all in the matter of a minute or two (or more) is not exactly what most might have
in mind as a recreational dive, but for some it's the ultimate in freedom.  Maybe it's
happened to you, you're on vacation in a scuba land like Minnesota (or Mexico), diving
somewhere between 40 and 60 feet or more and looked over to see someone next to you
with no tanks.  Was that a surprise or what!  Freediving, breath-hold diving, or apnea
diving as it is sometimes referred to is becoming more and more popular as people
discover the depths on nothing but lungs packed full of air.   Who is a freediver?  Anyone
who leaves the surface of the water sans an air supply other than what is in their lungs is
freediving.  If you've been snorkeling and taken a breath to go down and get that
crawfish or clam, or to get a little closer look at the bass or sunfish, then you've been
freediving.  Freediving has nothing to do with how deep you go or how long you stay
Freediving takes on different forms.  Constant Ballast is diving with whatever weight you
leave the surface with you bring back to the surface.  To me this is the most pure form of
freediving.  There is also Variable Ballast which is going down with weights or on a
weighted line and returning to the surface without the weight.  This method is a good
way to get comfortable with the depths without using up much oxygen except to equalize
your mask and your ears.  Other forms are Free Immersion - pulling yourself down a
guide rope or anchor line, No Limits - riding a sled down to the depths and using a float
to return the surface.  You cannot talk freediving with out mentioning breath holding.
Static Apnea is holding your breath with no dive or swim and Dynamic Apnea is going
for horizontal distance while swimming and holding your breath.
Just for the record... some of the Constant Ballast records in the professional circles of
freediving are approaching  -100 meters, that's over -300' to you and me, and static
breath holds of over 8 minutes.  Although you may find records that differ among the
freediving organizations such as AIDA (International Association for the Development
of Apnea)or FREE (Freediving Regulations & Education Entity), you get the picture.
Everyone has a natural reflex called the mammalian reflex.  This is the body's natural
ability, when submersed in water, especially cold water, to slow the heart rate down and
move more oxygen to the essential organs.  You couldn't pick better waters to test this
reflex out than right here in the cold clear waters of Minnesota.  This reflex is what
greatly enhances ones ability to go to deep depths and to stay down for seemingly
impossible times. Professional freedivers have been monitored with heart rates as low as
7 pbm at depth. This is the diving mode a serious freediver wants to be in to make those
comfortable, long, deep dives.
There are dangers involved in freediving so you MUST have a buddy diver with you.  No
matter how deep you are, if you have trouble when you are alone you could be in serious
trouble.  Cramps, a lost fin, samba (a near black out with symptoms that can include
temporary loss of muscle control, shaking, disorientation), and the dreaded SWB.
SHALLOW WATER BLACKOUT.  I have to mention SWB as it is a real danger if you
have been to depths while holding your breath.  Shallow water black out generally occurs
in the last 30' of an ascent after a deep dive, but a blackout can also occur while
swimming in a shallow pool.  On a deep dive the lungs compact to the size of an orange
and when you return to the surface the lungs began to expand and it's as if they draw the
little bit of oxygen left away from the body.  It's possible to blackout without warning
within inches of the surface or even after surfacing and signaling to your buddy that you
are O.K.  Hyperventilation is a no-no in freediving!  This can greatly reduce the urge to breath and that urge is not all bad.  At deep depths, because of lung compression, you can have the sensation that you have more oxygen then you really do.  The rule is - ONE DIVER UP, ONE DIVER DOWN.  The surface diver stays at the surface and then descends at a pre-determined time to meet the diver down and accompany him to the surface.  Having not gone as deep or expended as much oxygen the buddy diver should be able to help the other to the surface should there be any trouble.  Once at the surface, the divers should stay in eye contact with each other for 30 seconds or more to verify that the freediver has made a clean ascent and is ready to be the "up" diver for the next dive.  Best thing to do if you are going to get serious about freediving, read all you can about SWB and how to help a buddy who is having trouble.

Knowledge and Safety go hand in hand.

Another thing - NO practicing breath holds in the bathtub or sauna.  This is very
dangerous and many people have drowned doing this.  Do your breath hold practicing on
dry land, preferably laying down so you don't get a knob on your head if you pass out and
hit the coffee table.
This summer why not give freediving a try?

We still have one Darrell Allan light on our spring special.   This week we have Tank Totes for 20% off.  Pelican Floats are 15% off.

Let's see you in the water enjoying our great Minnesota diving.