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levar burton
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Temat: Free Diving
Hi All,

"Tanks? We don't need no steeenkeeen tanks"
Just kidding, I am really not an elitist in regards to Scuba vs Free diving.....I am new here but I have really enjoyed the various threads around Scuba and underwater photography. I wanted to insert my two cents worth as a free diver and share some of that experience because I think it is a very interesting and viable alternative to tank diving. I think it would be a very useful skill for marine bio research of various types and I would love to bring my skillset to a research effort if it would be helpful (hint hint)

I am also hoping that there are some free divers in the forum and that they will come out and share some of their experiences as well.

The animal encounters that I have enjoyed have been really great and the ability to engage them without a noisy regulator and in a natural and organic manner has been the key.

Living in Kona, Hawaii has allowed me to take on a host of experiences including swimming with dolphins, sharks, and various reef and pelagic critters. I don't hunt fish but I do enjoy photographing them and intend to do a lot more of this.

One interesting aspect of free diving is the ability to invoke the mammalian diving reflex at will. I have learned to cue my body through a number of physical exercises to go into the MDR and can do it on demand. The MDR is a state characterized by bradycardia (slowing of the heart rate, peripheral vasoconstriction and a blood shunt to maintain the brain and primary organs. A heart rate that is 20% of resting rate is not uncommon and some divers experience arrhythmia when fully engaged. The beauty of free diving is that for every shift in physics there is a corresponding shift in physiology and the more familiar one is with those shifts, the easier the practice becomes. A lot of work has been done to understand the physiology of this altered state but there has been very little corresponding attention given to the psychological effects of this state. I have been working on this and it is very interesting, indeed.

Of course, this is a dangerous pass time. A black out can come without warning so it is imperative that a serious free diver train and remain current with new science. For example, we never solely hyperventilate to prepare for a dive though we sometimes use hyperventilation, sparingly, in the breath up before we dive...

Many free divers can comfortably hold their breaths for six minutes and longer - really good ones can go 8 minutes, a few to 9 min and a couple to beyond 10min - the rules do not allow for oxygen saturation, it all must happen naturally without oxygen augmentation. In fact we practice dry land breath training by doing breath holds in sequences separated by two minutes of breathing. These sequences often follow a pattern similar to this one: 3:45 breath hold, two minutes breathing, 4min breath hold, two min breathing, 4:15 breath hold, two min breathing, 4:30 breath hold, two minutes breathing, 4:45 breath hold, two min breathing, 5 min breath hold, two min breathing, 5:15 breath hold, two min breathing...... this is part of the way we adjust to oxygen debt and we have another pattern that we use to adapt to C02 build... it seems superhuman but it really isn't that hard to do. Diligence and body awareness make it a powerful meditation.

Using these skills we can dive very deeply with much comfort...

So, I am hoping that some of you will take an interest in this thread and participate. I will find some neat info and share some personal dive stories and I hope you do this also...