Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Adaptation? Zero

The not-eating-for-static project was met with much disbelief on the part of boss instructor, who shook his head at me when I ordered one Fanta for lunch. Annoyingly, he was proven right. The whole project worked on a miniscule scale, improving the time without contractions by all of 35 seconds! I struggled to get to 4:30, then thought, alright, will push to five, realized I was low on oxygen and surfaced at 4:32. So much work for nothing - it is too annoying. I think I will just strike static from my freediving program as of now. It will be consigned to the rubbish, together with the noseclip.

Anyhow, boss instructor tamed the devil in my head that was now very annoyed (bad result in static...) and wanted to announce 65m constant weight, so I was all sensible for a change - amazing - and wrote down 50m instead. Unsurprisingly, this was an easy dive. The only problem with it was that Marco and Andrea will now wind me up for ever because I did a 32m and a 50m dive in their competition. And a ridiculous static! I will never live it down.

I should not have been surprised when my day off was once again cancelled, as I clearly did not do any work in the competition. I got to go back on the sled, only with a difference this time: tandem diving! I have to say, it is a bit distracting to be aware that boss instructor is watching me while whizzing down to 100m. I had (or so I thought) an excellent idea how to solve this: Andrea has to dive with his back to the sled, so he can't stare at me on the way down. This somehow did not meet with the guys approval.

I clearly need to work more on twisting them round my little finger. It seems I have not been successful on that count at all!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Apnea brain?

I am back on the sled - double thanks god, as Marco would say, I can stop that swimming down business and have fun for a bit. Boss instructor decided to send me to 100m yesterday, which almost worked, only I stopped at 96m. Then it was time for a party: all Italians living in Sharm meet at a beach bar every Tuesday and dance about madly. This was not the kind of training Andrea had in mind for me, but I was stubborn and went off with Paola, having promised not to drink, or not too drink a lot, in any case. Which I didn't, only somehow the following foto:

emailed to the dive center the next morning meant I had some explaining to do, such as: I was only pouring the Vodka for someone else! This afternoon, my two instructors were debating if I was suffering from lack of sleep (home at 3 am), apnea brain, or blondness. They concluded that they could not give me more than one thing to think about during my sled dives today, because I was too blond to cope with the information overload. This made them laugh a lot. Charming!

Anyways, it is a little hard to defend myself from such accusations, when I have just had a very special moment. The other night, while Tyler was out and Will and I were cleaning up around the house, I stepped out behind him on the way to the rubbish bin and - ooops - the door fell shut. Will was barefoot and bare chested, while I was barefoot and in my sleeping outfit, which consists of a pair of black hotpants and a black bra top. So there we were, in the middle of Hadaba, amongst the stray cats, stray dogs and stray taxi drivers, at 11pm, me in my underwear, Will semi dressed. Fortunately, the amazingly patient Paola who lives upstairs with Marco just smiled sweetly and handed us the spare key. She has had a lot of practice with freediving brain afflicted athletes, and nothing can faze her anymore.

Tomorrow is a rest day, Friday static competition. My static has gone from bad to worse. My solution for this problem is: stop eating until it's done. I'll report back on success/failure of this program. If I have not wasted away, that is.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

New record at Sweet & Salty Competition

A few hours after my last blog entry, I was on my way down to the blue jetty, ready to start my warm-ups for the record dive. I had one blissful day about a week ago, when my hangs were suddenly beautiful and I thought my adaptation was back. This effect has gone into reverse almost imediately, and all warm-ups are now as bad as ever. Fortunately, I have never allowed such a minor detail to distract me from my dive. It all went beautifully well, the only hick-up were contractions on the way down, which are plain disgusting, but never mind, I equalized at the bottom, took the tag, made my way back up, and was very happy to be shown a white card by Marco, who was in judge mode - see below, together with judge Paola and Andrea, who was safety slave for the day.

Marco has been moaning that we forced him to organize a competition, but the truth is, he needs the practice and the judge points - he even got to judge us in the pool, where Will went and just blasted out a continental record with a 175m dynamic no fins. I bailed early on my dynamic, at a mere 117m, feeling kind of tingely and weird. I supressed the little Anna-devil in my head that likes to come out at such moments, and played it safe for a change. Anyway. See something wrong with the picture below? Yes? There is a beautiful blue sea behind me, but I am wearing my POOL suit!!

The devil was also giving me some ideas of announcing 42m no fins depth, to beat my current record, but I reined it in and announced 32m instead, which I will probably never live down - the visibilty was so beautiful, the guys could safety me from the surface! Having said that, Andrea the boss instrcutor and safety slave can be quiet, since he let slip today that he announced 45m CONSTANT WEIGHT in a competition two years ago, which must be something like 25m off his pb. Anyway, he continued in bossy mode and cancelled my well deserved (I did a NO FINS dive, after all, how horrible!) day off tomorrow, and will put me back on the no limits sled.

Can't say I'm complaining. In fact, I can't wait! Wheeeeeeee....

Friday, 15 April 2011

Brava, Anna, you have earned yourself a deep dive

It has been four weeks since I started training here, and I have settled nicely into the standard freediving rhythm of not doing very much, except contemplating the choice of bikini, see below:

Or, sometimes, run back into the house to come back out dressed like this:

The weather has been varied, but is getting steadily warmer now. The first night in the apartment in Hadaba felt like I had arrived back home, including being woken from time to time by the sounds of cats fighting, Egyptians shouting and the mosque at 4 am. Beautiful.

Training continued to go veeeery slow for a long time. This has been a major test for my patience. I was well on my way to start pushing for depth, when somehow, something happend - this something is called Marco, Italian rasta man and owner of the Only One Freediving Center, and Andrea Zucchari, his partner and athlete/instructor . One day Marco said: "Anna. Small suggestion. To take the mouthfill lesson with Andrea." Oh, ok then.

Thing is, I may be impatient, but I am also good at spotting people who can teach me things. I took the mouthfill challenge, which started off dry, including all sorts of odd exercises involving strange tools like a footpump (don't ask), and then went on in the water, one on one. It was the most detailed, serious way I have approached the mouthfill so far, and although I have still not dived really deep, it has improved enormously already.

After two lessons free immersion, we carried on with the head down sled, driven by Andrea, so I could focus completely and not be distracted by anything at all. This was all very well, except that I was getting contractions at depth on a 30m sled dive! Adaptation is kind of slow in coming this year. I'm sure both of my Italians think it is all in my mind. They have given up being terribly professional and serious, and have just started laughing freely at me. At the same time, the mouthfill lesson, which was supposed to be three hours, has turned into a full, allround, let's-train-Anna program and I appear to have completely subjected myself to this. No idea how it happened. I arrive every day and ask Andrea (who is kind of bossy) what the plan is, and then I happily do as I am told. It works beautifully.

The third step of mouthfill training involved diving on the big, feet first sled. Now this is of course amazing good fun, especially since we do it no limits, involving zero effort, so that I can do several dives in one session. It is a little complicated to use this sled, and I was having a lot of fun going "wheeeeeeee" with it, and not terribly focused on the drills I was meant to practice, which had the two Italians shaking their heads at me, but in the end they were happy to allow me to pilot the thing and we started serious mouthfill depth training. One day I reached 60m with a mouthfill from ten, and when I got back to the surface, I was so pleased, for me the session was done, target reached. While I sat on the platform trying to remember what exactly had happend down there, the Italians had a small discussion, then Marco turned to me and said: "brava Anna! You have earned yourself a deep dive." How lovely! I don't think I ever earned myself a deep dive before.

So anyway, they put the rope to 80m, plan being to take a mouthfill at ten, refill at twenty, and then reach eighty - or, as Andrea says: enjoy the bottom. I did enjoy the bottom, and more relaxed and easy than ever before. It is magic.

Unfortunately I have now had to step away from playing with the no limits toy, and be a serious freediver for a while. Due to some bad communication the Aida Germany selection process for the world championships got kind of muddled up, meaning I am not eligible to go to either of the worlds. My only option to fix this was to ask Marco to organise a small competition, where we will have five of the six disiplines. Going back to swimming with my fin after the fairground ride no limits diving had the usual effect: as soon as you do a duck dive, my entire body screams: finning? what? NO! The dives are horrible. I have managed to calm this down, however, and have also quickly done a 120m dynamic the other day, which had Marco walking away from the pool muttering: "if you actually trained, you could be a monster" - weeeeeelll, yes, Marco, but then I would have to DO stuff!

In any case, project qualification for the worlds starts in a few hours. Have announced 60m free immersion. No point messing about anymore. Now I will go eat my mid-morning snack.

Andrea has taken over all areas of my life, including this one - the other day he asked me sternly if had I eaten something, and when I said yes, yes, I have, honest, he looked at me suspiciously. He could tell I was kind of shamming it, only not quite how. Truth was, I had eaten - one biscuit. I was sort of aware that this was not what boss-instructor had in mind, so I have been out since to buy cereal bars and am being VERY good now.