Spring Fling WRC Day One

Static Apnea

May 2nd, 2009, 9:48 pm
Tags: competition freediving static apnea

It's day one of my very first freediving competition, the Spring Fling Western Regional Competition hosted by the Vancouver Apneists. Tonight is the static apnea event, holding your breath underwater for as long as possible. All day long I'm super nervous, getting the shakes and stomach aches. I've decided to announce 2:30, which is an "easy" time for me (my personal best is 3:30).

You're allowed to announce whatever you like as your performance, but there are pros and cons to announcing higher and lower times. Unless you bring your own safety person for your static, you'll be assigned a safety person from the volunteers, and that person will start "tapping" you for signal responses starting 1 minute before your announced performance, and every 15 seconds after your announced performance. Having to respond is a bit distracting when you are trying to mellow out in the pool, so you don't want to announce 0:01 and be tapped every 15 seconds. The downside to announcing something closer to your actual expected performance is that you lose points if you don't make it to your announced time (there's no penalty for going over your announced performance).

My choice of 2:30 means I'm not going to worry about losing points for not making my time, but it also means I won't let myself wimp out early - if I announced something really low I think I might psych myself out of a good performance!

Driving out to the pool I finally start to relax. Ah, yeah, I remember what I love about freediving now! It's the fact that this is the one aspect of my life where, counterintuitively, I can actually let my nerves go. I'm usually a slave to my nerves but somehow I'm able to overcome them with this sport.

I arrive at the pool with lots of time to spare. The other athletes and myself gather for a briefing on safety and rules. My only major worry is messing up the surface protocol and losing all my points. 'Mask, ok-signal, "I'm okay", Mask, ok-signal, "I'm ok"', I tell myself over and over again. I think about the order, I give it meaning to convince myself that I'll remember it. 'You want your mask off first, so you can see the judge', I tell myself. 'Then give the ok signal, save the talking for last in case you're a bit shaky'. I think I've got it down. I know it's simple but too many people get dq'ed on surface protocol for me to be completely at ease about this.

I have my warmup schedule ready to go - 45 minutes till official top. Because my AP is quite low compared to most of the other athletes, I'll be in the first heat. This suits me just fine, I can get my performance done, then chill out. I listen to some music and do some warm-up holds. My planned-out schedule works just fine:

2 minutes breath-up
1 minute hold
3 minutes breath-up
2 minute hold

Get organized, stretch a bit, get into my suit. I leave lots of time for this, I don't want to be frantically struggling to get into my suit.

My safety times me as I do a 5 minute facial immersion, then a 4 minute breath up and a 3 minute hold. I'm feeling really good, the FI helps me to relax even further. Wow, all of a sudden it's almost transition time, so I move into my lane.

2 minutes till official top, ok, I'm doing some relaxed breath ups now, 2 second inhale, hold for a second, 10 second exhale. I start shivering a bit, I'm cold and a bit nervous again. Normally I can't stop shaking once I start, but somehow I will myself to stop. No need to be cold, you're almost there.

1 minute till official top. I do some purges, trying not to overbreathe. 30 seconds, here we go. 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, big breath, a couple of packs, and I'm down. Here we go!

The first minute usually sucks for me, but this time it feels ok. I've asked my safety to give my first tap at 1 minute instead of 1:30, but I'm not sure if he'll remember....before I know it the tap comes. The second minute progresses - I start thinking that I'll just make it to 2:30. This is a mind game. 2:30 is easy...don't think about it...

It's 2:30, my AP. Everything now is extra. I switch now to thinking about my surface protocol. Ooof - a contraction. That's ok, let it happen. My contractions start coming every few seconds now, but that's ok. The taps are coming every 15 seconds but I'm not really noticing them. Time is going fast.

OK, time to think about when to come up. I'd rather have a clean performance, I tell myself. Time to come up. I hold out a few seconds longer then surface. There's Kirk Krack, looking me in the eye. Mask off, ok signal, "I'm ok". He's still staring. Time....goes.....slooooowly. "I'm releasing you", Kirk says. What does that mean? Did I do something wrong? Then - white card. I'm clean, with a new PB of 3:47!

The performance goes great. I can't help thinking about 4 minutes - I could have done it, right? But I'm happy, good performance and a PB. Now I get to watch everyone else!

Tyler holds to 4:03. He tells me later that he wanted to be sure to beat me; he seems apologetic. "Hey," I smile, "whatever keeps your face in the water the longest!" Lots of other good performances, but a few glitches. Mandy-Rae's been suffering from a nasty sinus infection and starts coughing during her static and has to abort early. Andrew messes up his surface protocol with a cute "I'm ogay...". Eugene, one of the newest freedivers, does a great clean performance of 4:46.

Time to head home and mentally prepare for tomorrow - dynamic apnea with fins in the outdoor pool. I'm ready...I think!

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