Master Program and Level 3 with Freedive Dahab – Part one
It’s 4am Monday morning and I have just arrived to the studio flat, that will be my home for the next 3 weeks. I am back in Dahab to do the master program and level 3 with Freedive Dahab.
3 and a half hours later I wake up and stumble down the stairs to the dive center. My flat is right above Freedive Dahab. Hussein is there to welcome me, and I meet some of the other freedivers doing training and master program. It’s all guys. I guess this time they reversed the genders. When I was here in April, we where 4 female students and 2 female assistants and one male instructor. Now I’m the only woman…This is not a complaint!
The day begins with some briefing and stretching. We gear up, and I’m gonna wear my new blue Elios freediving suit in the water for the first time. It’s so easy to get into, so comfortable, so soft, and so beautiful!
We walk the few hundred meters to Lighthouse, jump in the water and put up our bouys with the beautiful blue water underneath us. I share the bouy with Hussein, well that is, he is the instructor, and the other freedivers line up after us.
It feels so good to be back in the warm blue water. I begin with some warm up free immersion dives to around 10 meters. I feel fine, but I need to relax more. Hussein tells me to relax my neck, tuck my chin towards my chest, and take it slow. I might be a bit in a hurry on my way down. I end the day with a few FIM (free immersion) dives to around 15 meters and my pb for the day is 15.9 meters. That felt awesome. Just pulling myself down the rope, equalizing, relaxing, and getting used to freediving again, though I was freediving last week on the unterwater festival. But it’s different now. There’s an instructor correcting me, and I am here to improve my skills. Hussein lets me know that my warmup dives now can be to around 15 meters.
For the aftermoon I go out for dinner with Caleb from Australia, Rowan from South Africa, and Bendik and Alex from Norway. And now I’m ready for a proper night’s sleep. First day has been great and I can wait for tomorrow.
Today we’re going to Blue Hole north of Dahab. We pack the cars at around 9 o’clock, and off we go.
At Blue Hole I buddy up with Bendik and Alex. Hussein is training a level 2 student, but will give us some advise during the training.
Bendik and Alex have already reached the 30 meter limit, and even if I shouldn’t, I feel a bit of preassure about diving with these guys. But they been freediving for around 4 years, so they should be more experienced and comfortable in the water than me. We all do some warmup FIM. My first dive goes to 9.1 meter and the next to 10.3 meters. Hmm, I feel that I am struggeling a bit with my ears. I can’t equalize and I don’t feel relaxed. I do a couple of dives to 13 and 14 meters, but that is as far as I get today. My ears are making problems for my dives, and they hurt a tiny bit. I give up. This is not my day, and I feel kind of down and annoyed, as I really wanted to make some good dives. As I am told, there is good days and there is bad days, and this is only my 2nd day in Dahab, so I shouldn’t let it get to me.
Back in Dahab we all go for lunch at a small place up the roade. 5 Egyptian pounds for a meal and 3 pounds for a rice pudding. Well that’s cheap, and for the cost of it, it’s a good meal.
After lunch we all break up, and I get my computer and walk to Time Cafe at Lighthouse. Here I spend a few hours writing, drinking lemon juice (my absolutely favorite juice, and a must have in Egypt).
At the cafe I see a woman, that I’m sure of is Sara Campbell, one of the world’s best freedivers and a yoga/meditation instrutor, and a friend on Facebook. When she’s about to leave, I stop her and ask if she is Sara Campbell. She is, and she is the sweetest and most welcoming person I have ever met. She has a beautiful charisma and gives me a hug. She tells me about a free meditation class this evening, and asks me to come.
At 7pm I show up on the beach, a 10 minutes walk from my flat and join the Kundalini yoga class with Sara on the beach. We are a lot of people and sit in a big circle. We warm up our spine and do some different breathing exercises. Kundalini yoga is very different from what I have tried before. There is a lot of breathing, and at some point I feel very dizzy, I get warmer and I almost feel like I will pass out. But I don’t so I continue the exercise. By the end of the class we lie down, and I feel myself getting very relaxed and almost sleeping. After the class I mind is light and body rested. The experience with Kundalini yoga was special and not what I expected. Not that I actually expected anything. There’s another class Thursday night, which I will attend as well. Not only to experience this type of yoga again, but also to feel the energy and positive mind of Sara Campbell, which in itself can make you relaxed and happy.
Today is a pool session day. We all go to the pool about halfway to Blue Hole. The 8 guys and me.
Bendik, Alex and I are doing level 3, and begin the day with some theory about coaching, visualizing and making a diving plan. The rest of the guys are doing their own statics and training in the pool. We have made a plan till the official top (the time we begin our maximum static apnea). The plan cointains of timing for stretching, changing to wetsuit and other gear, breathe ups and statics.
I get ready for my first breathe up and breath hold in the pool. Hussein is coaching me. I take m final breath and then breath hold…I feel uncomfortable, warm, I’m not relaxing, I don’t wanna do this, stressed and lots of thing are going through my mind. My contractions comes very early, and I give Hussein a sign, that they have started, and after only 2 minutes I come out of the water. Horrible! Hussein tells me to take of my wetsuit jacket to cool down, and try to visualize something when holding my breath, but I ask him to tell me something to visualize about during my breath hold.
I get ready for the 2nd breath hold. Do my breathe up, I’m really trying to relax and the my final breth and breath hold. Again, my contractions come really early, and I give Hussein the sign. My contractions get worse, I have no idea about the time, I feel uncomfortable. Hussein begins the countdown from 5 and tells me to put my right hand on the edge of the pool. He counts down again and I put the left hand on the egde. He counts down from 5 again and I put my legs down. He asks if I can give him 5 seconds more holding my breath. I give him an OK sign and after 5 seconds I come up. Hussein forgot to tell me a story to visualize about, but I don’t think it would matter.
Anyway, I get ready for my 3rd breath hold. Final breath and breath hold! I try to relax, Hussein pour water on my back, as I lie directly in the sun. I try to relax, Hussein tells me a story, that I can’t even remember now, but maybe something about a desert bbq. I give Hussein a sign when I get my first contraction. Again it feels like it’s coming really early. The story continues and so does my contractions, which are getting worse and worse. Hussein gets me to the edge of the pool, make the countdowns, and when I stand on my feet with my face in the water. He asks if I can give him just 30 seconds of breath hold more. I give him an OK sign. He tells me there is 15 seconds left and my contractions are horrible. He asks if I wanna hold for another 5 seconds and I give him an OK sign. Finally I come up and do my recovery breaths.
So all of my contractionas came after 40-55 seconds, which is really early! Usually my contractions come around 1:30, but I just feel that I can’t relax properly. Maybe because of the heat. It is baking hot, and impossible to be in the sun for 5 minutes without sweating like a pig on a grill!
But I did my requirement for level 3, which is 3:30 and I did 3:36 as my longest breath hold.
After this we do DYN (dynamic with fins). I have done 100 meters before, so it should be possibe for me to do it again. I do my breathe up, final breath and begin my dive. Again, I don’t feel relaxed at all. My first contraction comes after maybe 40 meters and when I get to 62 meters I ascent. So I didn’t do my requirement this day for level 3. Apparently the requirement is “only” 75 meters and not 100 meters, which I thought it was. I think, that is why, I didn’t make it, because I still had a long way to go. But if I had known that it was 75 meters, I might have pushed myself the last few meters…well well, I do it another day!
Now it’s time for a CO2 tabel. 3 x 1 min. breathe up, 3 x 45 sec. breathe up, 3 x 30 sec. breathe up, and finally 3 x 15 sec. breathe up. This means dive 25 meters and then breathe up before the next 25 meters. This is rough. Especially when you only have 15 seconds inbetween dives. I keep up with the guys, except for the last two dives with 15 seconds inbetween the dives.
The guys haven’t got enough, so they want another round with only 3 x 15 sec, 3 x 10 sec. and 3 x 5 sec. inbetween the dives. Maniacs!! But fun watching! And respect for the guys! Maybe I’ll push myself a bit harder the next time though!
At night we meet up at Friends Restaurant for some nice food and card games. Who’s the asshold? Not me. You can call me Mr. Miss President!
Hussein is not instructing today, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t go freediving. I buddy up with Janos from Hungary and we head for Lighthouse. We are the first freedivers in the water, and we put up our bouy in the water. We both begin with some warmup FIM, but my first dive goes really bad. I only get to 7.5 meters, and the I turn around. My ears still won’t equalize. Fuck! Next dive I go to 9.2 meters. I still have problems. Janos tells me to slow down. I am too fast in my FIM, and I look stressed. I really try to relax through my breathe up, and the next few dives go a lot better, slowly increasing the depth to 14 and 16 meters in FIM.
I get ready for a CWT dive. I breathe up, make my duck dive and begin descending. When I don’t feel I can equalize anymore, I turn around and begin my ascending. 17 meters. Again, Janos have a few comments about my dive. He’s a very good coach, even though he is just training as well. I don’t feel that I have anything to offer him in freediving, but he tells me that he is just practicing some equalization techniques. He tells me to focus on my front kick, as when I’m finning, I stop my kick, when my leg is vertical.
For the next dives I’m trying to focus on the finning, and I really feel that I make a good effort, but still it’s not enough. My depth, however is still increasing, and I have a few nice dives to around 20 meters, and my best dive this day ends at 20.5 meters.
This night I join another one of Sara Campbell’s classes on the beach. We are 7 people on each our maddress ready for more Kundalini Yoga. We begin with warming up our spine, while breathing in the rythem of the movement. We do a lot of demanding exercises, involving a lot of strength, will and again breathing. One exercis we sit in a lotus pose, and with our fists we lift ourselves from the maddrasses while breathing. Another one is not as challenging, quite funny, but still demanding. We sit, stick our tongue out, and while keeping it out, we breath deeply in and out, and we do it for quite some time and some of us starts coughing, which is okay. All this exercises is cleaning out our bodies for stress and making us more relaxed.
It’s a very different way of meditating, than from what I’m used to, and I’m not quite sure what I think about it, but I definitely feel relaxed and more earthbound after the class. I can’t make more of Sara’s classes before she leaves for Europe and I leave Dahab, but next time I’m in Dahab I’ll do it again.