Last month the Danish Championship in pool freediving was held in Aarhus, and as you may have read in my previous post, I’ve actually been training for it this year, which I didn’t last year.
I have made CO2 tables 3-4 times a week and been in the water 2-4 times as well. My training began in January, after a 3 weeks holiday, and went on for 5½ week. I felt my breath holds improving, feeling more and more relaxed, and my confidence growing. I was prepared for the championships – until I came down with a cold only 10 days before. In desperation I posted a picture with a homemade tea containing ginger, galanga, pepper, raw liquorice powder, turmeric powder and green tea on Instagram, asking what to do so close to the competition.
The best advise I got – and what freediving is indeed about – was from Danish freediver Morten Rosenvold Villadsen, telling me not to let it get to me mentally. If I could stay focused and not think that the cold would make me perform worse, I’d be alright, he said…more or less. So I tried not to think too much about it, and when I got back in the water 5 days later, I was more or less okay, but didn’t push myself. As another of Denmark’s best freedivers, Ken Kiriyama, told me when doing static apnea with him, was that at this point I couldn’t do more training for my performance. I couldn’t do anything only a few days before the championships, except for relaxing and staying focused. So that’s what I decided to do.
Saturday, and the first day of the competition, occured and I was excited, but also some kind of nervous. As soon as we sat at the welcome meeting and briefing my heart started pounding faster and harder. No breathing exercise or relaxation got my heart to beat slower for more than 30 seconds. I decided that it shouldn’t get to me, and that I just had to work with it.
I made an easy CO2 table 1½ hour before my static OT (official top) and my contractions appeared already at 1m10-15s. Again, I decided that this was just the way it was, and I just had to work with it and try to relax as much as possible.
I got into the 34 degrees shallow (60cm) water with my coach, Steffen. I did two short warm-up dives before entering the competition area. The former athlete only left the area 3 minutes before me (which I didn’t realize), so when I entered the area I was a bit surprised when the countdown for official top began. I did my breathe up and 8 seconds after official top I began my dive.
I did NOT feel relaxed in my mind. I found the dive very hard from the beginning, and when my contractiones began already at around 1 minute, I thought I just wanted to reach my AP (announced performance) at 2:45.
Seconds went by and I felt stressed. I gave Steffen I sign to give me a time and start talking to me. Only 2 minutes had gone by. Steffen insured me that I could still go on for a long time, eventhough the contractions were rough.
When I was lying there and the seconds past by, I thought about making it to 4:29, which might sound crazy, when you think about how stressed I felt and how hard my contractions were. But my goal was to beat my fellow freediver, Mie, as I know we are very close to each other in minutes and meters. Not that we have a competition going on between us, as we do support each other and train together, but for me it was a goal, that kept me lying there. At some point Steffen says something with 15 seconds left to 4 minutes. He asked me for OK signs and then finally told me to come up whenever I wanted to. At this point I felt twitches in my fingers and I almost got the tunnel vision, and decided to come out of the water. In me head it felt like my surface protocol was very fast. I hooked while I took off my mask, gave the judges an OK sign, said “I’m OK!”….and then took off my nose clip. Damn!!! I knew it was a red card. What a shame…but it was still a brand new PB for me. 4:27! So a red card, bummer, but new PB, Yeeaay!! So I managed to go on with contractions for 3:27 even though my dive was far from comfortable. That’s something to work with.
Picture by Pernille Hansen
After the static dive I felt completely wasted and out of energy. My heart was still pumping and I didn’t look forward to my DNF (dynamic no fins) dive. I had announced 53 meters with a PB at 80 meters, and 53 was all I wanted to do. My time came up and I got ready for my dive with my friend Julie as my coach. My breathe up was nice and I tried to keep my eyes closed and just be alone and relaxed in my mind.
When my dive began I felt ready for it, though not relaxed with my quickly pumping heart. I reached 25 meters and felt, that I just wanted to get it over with. I made the turn and remember feeling exhausted. I just wanted to reach 53 meters. I made the second turn, 50 meters, and thought “Okay, just 75 then.”. But I didn’t feel confident that I would manage to reach 75 meters. I approached the 3rd turn and I was so tired that I broke the surface right after the turn and shortly after I came up. I did a perfect surface protocol (Wohooo) and got a white card at 80 meters. I was happy enough.
When the day had gone, everyone was done with their dives, I just wanted to put my head on my pillow and sleep.
Sunday was all about DYN (dynamic with fins). I was still exhausted, but I felt comfortable and really wanted to have a nice and relaxed dive. Just for me and no one else. I still didn’t feel so relaxed as I wanted to, and my heart was still beating the crap out of my chest!
I got ready for my OT and AP at 65 meters. I was really focusing on myself, my breathing and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. At the countdown I got ready and felt comfortable, yet tired. I did a good breathe up and a few seconds after OT, I began my dive. When I got to 25 meters, I thought it was still a long way, but I also felt determined to reach my PB at 102 meters. I made an easy turn, though it felt slightly clumsy. When I new I reached my AP I felt eager to reach 100 meters and make a turn. So I did. I made a turn, moved on until I was sure, that I reached more than my PB. I felt good, but exhausted and decided to come up. I made a perfect surface protocol at 112 meters and got a white card. New PB! YES! And it was a pleasent dive, though I felt tired. You can see my happy smile on the video.
Here are the results of the diciplins
After the dive I made a short and funny photo session in the pool with Daan Verhoeven and Sigurd van Hauen. In my spare time I have a passion for vintage clothes from the 1930’s to 1950’s, so I wore an original 1950’s dress on the shoot. Pretty funny, but also quite difficult to try to look good and effortless under water. Here’s a few shots from the shoot by Mikkel Due and a beautiful shot from Sigurd van Haue.