Saturday, October 9, 2010

the stupid decissions that led to a national record

List and pic of me being stupid:

Photograph by Linda Paganelli
  1. Timing: fourth freediving trip in four months, while being out of a job and having some actual family obligations
  2. Destination: Egypt is not a smart place to visit if you value the solidity of your stools or the cleanliness of your sinuses, leading to:
  3. Diving with a cold: little untalented kid playing violin in forehead
  4. Waiting till last day of training to realize how the mouthfil works: no real practise
  5. Announcing 55 FIM, a PB by 10 meters and 15 meters deeper than i'd been this year, then spending  almost 10 seconds there in surprise i made it and not knowing what to do with a tag
  6. Announcing 55 CWT with fins i've never dived deep in before, then not making it due to excessive squeekyness of ears
  7. Announcing 55 CNF, a pb by 11 meters, despite having failed reaching 50 in competition 5 times already
The stupidest mistake is actually on this chart:

Graph thanks to Eric Van Riet Paap

See that bit on the graph just before 40 meters and just after 40 seconds, where it goes horizontal for a couple of seconds? That's where i decided to squeeze myself. Up to that point i was falling quite happily, equalization working fine despite snottyness, when suddenly i swallow the air in my cheeks and am left with no air at all to push into my ears. I'd mentally prepared for this so i flip myself around and head-up, i try to fill my mouth again, knowing that this will put too much pressure on my throat and ribs and that i will squeeze myself. Very very stupid decission. In theory i'm all for clean dives, but when it comes to competitions and records i turn out to be quite dumb and hurt myself. So with that in my mind i get to the bottom plate, and as you can see i'm still not used to getting a tag at that point, for it takes a while. Stupid, but at least i'm calm whilst being stupid.

I'm also quite calm swimming back up, enjoying the strong strokes needed to propel yourself back up. Not always stupid, me. The last stupid thing i do is when i reach the surface and take my first breath without realizing that the mouthfill i swallowed at 40 meteres went straight into my stomach, instead of back into my lungs. Therefore, i come up and try to breath in deep, but with 5 bars of air trapped in my belly, that doesn't quite work -it's like breathing in with an operating vacuumcleaner attached to your mouth. So i'd just spent 2 and a half minutes swimming quite hard without breathing -in up to a 6G environment- and now i can't catch my breath. Not pleasant. Protocol dictates that you should deliver your verbal and physical signals of being ok within 15 seconds, which isn't a problem, but then you have to wait another 30 seconds before you get your dive approved, and by this time i'm seriously considering going into a panic -i can't breathe and feel i'm about to explode. All i can do is hang onto the line and wait for the white card. I've already spat up some blood so the staff knows i'm in a bit of trouble, but part of me hopes they'll disregard the rules and put me on O2 immediately. I have no clue what is wrong with me, all i feel is enormous internal pressure and an inability to really breathe -i think i'm partially paralized.

Photograph by Jacques De Vos

Thankfully i get the white card and immediately Linda disconnects me from the line and Supercoach George and her bring me to the other platform for oxygen. As soon as Linda turns me on my back and transports me, i let out an enormous belch, and instantly feel better. At that point i realize it was just a lot of trapped air, not an embolism or paralysis, and my panic fades. I'm safe, i've made it, all there's left to do now is to breathe a bit of oxygen and recuperate, trying not to cough up a lung. The doctor reads my blood saturation and it's 88%, a bit low. After oxygen it's up to 100%, then falls back to 90%, so i've had a minor squeeze.

The rest of the day i vary between smiling like an idiot -or more idiotic than usual- and bend over from not knowing which end to let the air out of. I'd advice against putting 5 bars of pressure into your stomach, even if you do appreciate some good farting.

List of things that weren't stupid:
  1. Training with Eric and Judith a lot: besides being fun, it's also good to know that swimming the distance isn't going to be a problem.
  2. Taking 2 years off from competitive deep diving: felt absolutely none of the negative feelings that were plaguing me on deep dives before.
  3. Training with Freedive Dahab: Lotta and Linda are brilliant freedivers.
  4. Proving Linda wrong again: before she send down the tag, she showed it to me and said: "This is the last time you'll see it."
  5. Having a Supercoach: not only did George make me a fantastic belt (which Linda tried to steal), she also talked me through my visualizations and transported me to and from the competition area, all the while looking this lovely:

And special thanks to Monsigneur Poseidon, without whose graces none of this stupidity would have been possible



Anonymous said...

Excellent and funny story, Daan! Be careful with your stomach :)


Eric said...

Fantastic story Dude,
thanks and congrats for your performance !

Anonymous said...

Lovely!! Isnt belching a sign of enjoyment?! That was such a brave and brilliant dive. Well done.xxxxxxx

SeBiArt said...

that was the best account of a dive I've ever read - not that I've read that many...about dives that is...but, well, it was a great story about stupidity, belching and farting too; all of which occur with an unsurprising amount of regularity when someone is as calm as you are often celebrated to be. hilarious stuff. and congratulations too!!! ! ! ! !!! I'm sure you'll inspire a few more idiots out there - especially with that hotshot portrait to boot. :)