Reaching new depths

Is it possible to increase your depth from 60m CWT to 80m CWT within two days without getting hurt? Yes it is.  Is it safe? NO. But back in time, I still did that and I decided to share it with you. 

When making new PB (personal best), some are adding 2m, some 5m, in CNF is even 2m a lot in CWT with monofin 2m does not have to make difference. Adding 2m in CWT around 40m is easy around 100m it can be a big deal, all is in perspective to your personal capabilities.

A lot of students come to me with a request “I would like to train, to be able to go deeper”. Does not matter if you are a spearfisher, recreational freediver or athlete, this sentence is very common and I understand them because I share the passion for what depth is. Depth brings us magic and in same time it is fun and a challenge. But perhaps a more important question than how fast you can increase the depth is:

Are you physically and mentally ready for new depth or even for depth you reached last time?

During my first 4 months of proper deep training ever in my life, I increased my PB from 55m CWT to 93m CWT while training on open line (bottom plate is deeper than depth announced). I was diving around 60m for three week, than I did PB 70m, next day PB 80m. I was diving around 80m for three weeks and than I did PB of 90m. I have never squeezed, samba or black out’d in CWT in my life. I never done such a big jumps in FIM or CNF discipline.

There is a lot of aspects which that has to be considered before we even think about going deeper. Equalization, dive time, nitrogen narcosis, the weight we carry and our neutral buoyancy, hypoxic levels and our feelings.

What I have done was wrong and I do not recommend this big jumps to anyone.

Those who are not trained well would probably end up with serious injuries and those who have any sort of talent for depths could very easily faced what I faced – a serious mental burn out a year after. I would not do this big jumps again either but I learned a lot from that experience. I did not really do any special training, I just dived and was doing a lot of mental control exercises in which I taught myself by now. I did about 5 hours of mental training a day. It apparently did worked but that together with so many deep dives in short period of time exhausted my mind in such an extend that I burned out. So even mental power is crucial, it has it’s limits as well as our physical body.

I trained on an open line, because I did not follow the competition set up. I liked to dive deep because of pleasure and it was an extreme challenge for me, what I loved. But because I did not train with competition set up at all, I was an absolutely terrible competitor. My goal of the year was to do 80m CWT in world championship and to set a new national record. However, as I was training I found out that I would rather not go to worlds and just trained. I was totally captured by depth and wanted to go deeper.

When I was going for a deep dive, I set my mind into the state that I am going as deep as far as I enjoy it and as far as it is comfortable.

I believed that I am strong enough to do anything I want to do but I am listing to my body very carefully and I respect the idea that I will turn if there is even small sign to do so. For the other hand. If I have been smarter that time, I would stop around 80m rather than going deeper even it was easy and fun, and focused on technique which was a bsolutely terrible as well and managing the competition stress, rather then going deeper.

So many times I see divers coming up from their dive and first thing they check is depth on their computer and sometimes they get even upset that it says 69,8m and no 70m while discussing freefall, equalization or kicks. Or divers who wanted the depth so much that they were able to hurt themselves in order to reach it. What about fun?

Everyone of us is very different. Different styles of training works differently for different people. When divers based their diving too much on their feelings, like I did, than it can happen that they reach 80 or 90m and they struggle to improve as they did not pay enough attention to equalization, endurance, oxygen consumption etc. On the other side of the coin are people who focus on these technical aspects of dive so much from very beginning that they lost relaxation, fun or pleasure of diving.

More important than the number itself, is to know exactly  HOW are you reaching those depths from technical point of view, what can be reached by ability to listen to your body, while still having FUN during it all, either it is just a casual dive or hard training session.

You do not say, I will try to do it, but I will do it, if you are going to do something. But, in same time, there has to be a space in this mind set up which will allow you to stop when it is needed in order to protect you.

Depth is promoted everywhere but this can feed an idea that depth is a goal in unhealthy way. The depth you are diving to should not define either you are “cool” or not. Depth is challenge, fun, goal but not self-worth. Ego is natural and healthy part of the life, sadly enough it can be deadly one in freediving.

Just last year I had a dinner with a guy who were telling story about his last weekend on his boat. He dived to 35m (last PB was 30m) alone and he had a small samba on the surface. His friends could dive just to 20m and he was the little hero of the dinner. Yet, without realising he was lucky to be alive. That guy did his first freediving course a year ago…

So how to improve in depth?

I can not give you an objective answer, as I do not think there is one due to lack of research in this sport. What I can tell you is what I am doing now. I try to find the best ratio between dives which are just for fun, training of technical aspects of the dive and maximum performances. Everyone has to find his own way and I find it exciting!

5 Comments on “Reaching new depths

  1. Dear Katarina, your advices are wise. Depth is a school of patience for many reasons meaning that it takes time to dive deep. The role of a trainer or instructor is to let time to his/her student to go deep. Like that psychological, physiological technical and tactical adaptations can be made. The progression in depth is not only a question of ears or lungs 🙂 Those in 2015 who believe that they can progress fast in depth are maybe not well managed by a trainer/instructor or friend or maybe are alone to decide which progression they must follow.
    Friends and trainers/instructors are important because it’s them who have to save you when there is a problem. Freediving is by evidence a team adventure. Claude Chapuis – AIDA France


  2. Yes.
    I did my PB with bifins two years ago,with the same way as you did.
    Now, two years later, I started dive with monofin, and I do self evaluation like this :

    If I have not any :

    Contraction, Cyanosis
    Burning legs
    Gear problems
    O2 problems
    N2 problems
    Equalization mistakes

    and when I feel good, Im going deeper.

    As a PRO athlete from 1996 in many sports, I found out the same way for training, as you.

    Thanks for this post, Katarina.

    Freedivind instructors international
    Pimp Your Life Academy


  3. You said you never had a lung squeeze, but in your last blog post you said you had a few… Which one is true?


    • Hello Lula. Thank you for answer. No, i never had lung squeeze while doing a deep dive in CWT discipline. But yes,I had few of them while training FIM discipline as FIM used to be a problematic one for me.


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