The last minutes before my Swiss national record in freediving
60min till official top
I lie on the yoga mat, my arms stretched through above my head, I breathe in and out slowly, listening to the sounds of my breath as my chest slowly moves rhythmically up and down, the first contractions setting in.
These exercises, completed before the test, already simulate several deep dives and optimally prepare the body and the psyche for the upcoming stress.
45min till official top
I put on my suit, this is also almost a ritual, all processes are rehearsed, I am now fully focused, visualise the upcoming performance and am already deep under water in my mind
30min till official top
I sit down at the edge of the shore, take a few deep breaths, put on my mask, enter the water and swim slowly out to the buoy, which the safety team and the judges have set up before.
The depth is set to 25m, this is the "warm-up dive" some athletes swear by this so called "immersion dive" it is supposed to dull the CO2 receptors a bit so that you have less need to want to breathe early in the underwater.
15min till official top
I lay down with my back on my floats (floating noodles) next to the buoy, which give me buoyancy and stability in the water, and breathe in and out calmly and concentrated for a few minutes.
Then I dive down, my first dive is also to see if the equipment fits properly, if the equalisation works and helps me to adjust to the cold, from already -15m prevails in Lake Zurich a temperature far below 10°C and this throughout the year.
At the surface the temperature is almost 22 degrees Celsius, this big difference has to be taken into account because it has an extreme effect on the ability to relax and on equalisation.
5min till official top
In the background I hear the judges announcing the times;
"Three minutes to official top, two minutes".... I breathe slowly and steadily, a few variations in my breathing allow me to exhale some more CO2, which helps me suppress the breath stimulus some more.
I empty my lungs completely for the last time and then inhale fully, after a few additional packs I slowly turn still below, make the first equalisation still on the surface and then dive down.
At -15m I hear the first alarm of my dive computer, slowly I get into the neutral zone, I am now balanced and only 1-2 arm / leg strokes and my body slowly begins to fall, we know this as "freefall" and is for most of us the most pleasant phase, where no physical effort is necessary, one concentrates exclusively on the equalisation and a relaxed posture, so that one creates as little resistance as possible and the muscles should not cramp under any circumstances.
At -25m I hear another alarm, this is the sign for me to "charge", that is, I take air from my lungs and store this in the throat, close the glottis and use this air to equalize.
-45m I wake up from a trance-like state and briefly look down, where I can already see the bottom plate with the tags, the bottom cam. Down here it is sock dark but the scenario is brightly illuminated by halogen diving lamps that are mounted below. I also have 2 small lights mounted on my neck lead, which illuminate the buoy rope all the way, so I have a good reference regarding speed and direction.
-50m "touch down!" I reach the bottom plate and immediately grab a tag, which I have to bring up to the judges as proof that I made it to the bottom. A camera films me doing this, the video footage later serves as proof for this as well.
I make a turn forward, attach the tag to my belt and make my way back on the long way back, I concentrate on my technique and try not to make all the movements too hastily to save oxygen.
Halfway up it gets brighter again and I can already see my first safety diver Daniel who accompany's me and escort me safely to the top, should my strength leave me or should any incident occur they are always there to support me and in case of emergency also to rescue me.
I can clearly see the buoy from below and get ready for surfacing, in my head I go through the protocol again which I have to submit to the judges.
Breathe correctly, take off the mask, give the OK sign, continue to breathe and the judges want to see my tag, they wait a while until I finally hear the redeeming answer: "white card"! the confirmation that the attempt is valid and that all the effort of the last months was worth it.
Afterwards we celebrate extensively, in the water still with all Safety's and Judges.
At home I hang my wet diving gear on the balcony, and feel an inner emptiness, I miss the pressure again, in every respect.
I'm already dreaming of the next adventure...
If you have any questions, leave us a comment or send us an email at: email@example.com.
"you can‘t hide from yourself underwater.