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Dive Smarter, Not Harder...It's That Easy!

ErrolP Dive smarter, not harder…. It’s that easy!

 By Errol Putigna


 Within our professions, whether you’re a doctor, an engineer or a surfer, we look to further our knowledge and education. We make our best attempts to keep current on new information and to ultimately put it into practice. But sometimes there does      come a time in our lives where we become complacent and say, “I think I know enough.” But do we really?


In freediving and spearfishing the same occurs. We get into the sport, we ask friends what to do to get better, spend exorbitant amounts of time on the internet reading, we spend a mint on gear, we eventually take a course and then we say, “I think I know enough.” Freediving is perhaps one of the only sports where you don’t have to train super hard to be a good freediver, but you definitely have to be smart and know exactly what’s going on. This can easily be done through education.


When I first got into the sport of freediving, I was scratching for the surface at 40ft. I eventually got some information from a local freedive shop and I took my first course. It was a FII (Freediving Instructors International) Level 2 and I wanted to see what it was all about. I did ok in the course and the gains I made were quite incredible (5:00 static and 85ft personal best). I was pretty happy but I knew if I could do that in only a few days, then there must be more. Many of my friends that had also taken the course stopped there with what they learned and never took another class. Not me, I was hungry for more. I knew I had just grazed the surface of all of this. I started taking freedive class after freedive class, diving the line, spearing with the better spearos in my area and years later becoming an Instructor Trainer for FII (one of the 5 in the world). I started taking an interest in writing curriculum alongside Martin Stepanek and really seeing how this all worked. All I wanted to do is learn more.


In the last year, FII has come out with a new class called, Waterman Survival. It’s geared toward “extreme” water sports, such as big wave surfing, whitewater kayaking, wakeboarding, etc. A few of the big name surfers such as, Garrett McNamara (surfs 80+ft waves), Andrew Cotton, Jamie O’Brien and Jeff Weatherall, have taken it (BTW, most ended up becoming more interested in actual freediving by the end of the course J). These guys have survived some nasty spills at The North Canyon in Portugal, Mavericks, Jaws and Teahupo’o! They are at the top of their game but they are still furthering their education to get better (and live longer….).


The same goes with recreational spearing and freediving. It’s not all about hunting at 100ft or diving to 200ft on one breath (although pretty cool and totally attainable). What should be important is to understand your body and what’s happening during a dive even at 30ft., to be safe about it and ultimately, to be truly in tune with yourself. With the proper education, you can enjoy every second of your dive and feel confident. FII has developed different curriculums (click here to see courses) for these very reasons, so that you could learn more about the sports you love. The Internet is great but it requires knowing how to sift through the good and bad information. Classes streamline everything for you and lessen the learning curve. A trained professional will know how to explain it. So, why not take the plunge and really learn to dive smarter, not harder! Dive safe!


Martin Stepanek, Jeff Weatherall, Niki Roderick || Freediving with FII (Freediving Instructors International) ||

Pro Surfers Jeff Weatherall, Jessie Heilman and Greg Weatheral increase their breath-hold confidence with Martin & Niki Stepanek.



Cat Fizgerald || Fitness training, freediving training with FII (Freediving Instructors International) || Freediving courses with Freediving Instructors International || www.freedivinginstructors.comSeptember 19. 2012


by Cat Fitzgerald

Lately my attention has been drawn to transitions. This happens a lot: My attention, my awareness, opens up and gets drawn towards something, and, if I listen, I get to be a part of something amazing while being present at that moment. I am trying these days to be smarter; I’m trying to remember the lessons from before while learning the one at handso I can grow in a geometrical, linear, parallel, and quantum fashion. By this point you are either unconscious, wondering if you had a cup of Timothy Leary tea, or asking the eternal question, "So what."

I often use the physical as a training methodology and/or metaphor for emotional and spiritual development. Ok!Transitions.

Transitions are a huge deal. There are books, classes, coaches, etc. solely dedicated to the art of transitions in the sports world. People spend huge amounts of time and money in the training of smoother transitions. Funny enough, transitions are usually the times in our lives we are in the biggest hurry to escape, so we tend not to be present in the moment and, so, fail to realize that there is a whole lot of fantastic stuff for growth during those times. Those are the macro areas and I want us to look at the micro this month.

We tend to focus on things themselves– atechnique, object, goal, the object of a finished "doing." This by itself is interesting as we focus on the "going to" and the "did/done," the very conjugation of "do" to "doing" demands us to be present in the moment, not just of the pulling and pushing, but how we got there and get from one to another.

For example, stand and mimic your swim stroke, what happens immediately after you have "finished" your kick?Take time to pay attention to your draw and then to thatin-between moment when you’ve finished the draw and begin your kick. We don’t want to be Scuba Steve, the battery operated diver who kicks back and forth mechanically. It's time to discover the next phase. There is no draw then kick and draw again; there is flow. Shift your perception to include the transitions, and then to flow, that place where there is no separation. Like a car engine, it's good to be able to take it apart to fix, but we want it to run like one unit, not simply the sum of its parts. Processing how we move through space should allow us to become more efficient, competitively viable, or, at least, increase our quality of being.

Let's work our Spleen Meridian,

the lateral hamstring stretch. Lie on your back, pull your right leg up and grab the back of it, both hands to the inside. Now bring your left knee to your chest; your right leg should have drawn closer to your chest also.Hold your right leg there while you reach away with your left leg. This should increase the stretch behind and inside your right leg. Once you have this down with both legs I want you to try alternating legs. Once you are comfortable with that movement, you can start trying to explore the moments of transition between the stretches. You should notice work in your abdominals, hip flexors, and quads, all of the balancing muscles that allow you to have a strong kick. Further exploration should lead you to more elasticity, range of motion, efficiency, and, strangely (not really, but it will feel strange initially) enjoyment.

The second exercise is a breathing exercise we do in Aikido.

It will be easier to watch this quick video than to read Tolstoy's dissertation on what the hell is happening. Watch for the moments between your inhalation and exhalation, and when the hands are at the top and bottom of the cycles.

Flow this month.


Freediving ...what a drag!

Errol Putigna || Freediving Instructor with FII (Freediving Instructors International) || Freediving courses with Freediving Instructors International || www.freedivinginstructors.comJune 19. 2012

Freediving ... what a drag!

by Errol Putigna

I’ve been reading a lot about elite Olympic swim athletes such as Michael Phelps and Dara Torres. Even at their elite levels,their coaches are constantly focusing on technique and their movement through the water. Well, we as freedivers also move through the water and need to be concerned about being efficient and creating less drag. Drag is the freediver’s enemy. It makes us work harder resulting in more oxygen consumption and ultimately, shorter dive times.

We as freedivers/spearfishermen often worry about bottom time and breath-hold capacity. We are constantly working on CO2/O2 tables and increasing our ability to hold our breath. Perhaps we need to address an even more important issue that is often overlookedand will without a doubt increase our bottom times and breath-hold ability…. efficiency in the water!

IStreamlining for Spearfishing || Freediving Training with FII (Freediving Instructors International www.freedivinginstructors.comn my  time as a freediver, I have been lucky enough to train with some of the world’s elite freedivers, Martin Stepanek and Niki Roderick (now NikiStepanek), and they have taught me to work efficiently in the water with just a few simple but extremely important techniques. They may not have the longest breath-holds but most certainly are machines of efficiency in their respective freediving disciplines due to their impeccable techniques. This results in faster dive times, working less during the dive and ultimately burning less O2. This also will apply to spearfisherman; faster decent time to the bottom, less energy expended and more bottom time (and hopefully more fish!)

I was listening to an elite swim coach and he said, “Drag always trumps power”. It’s about balance of power for the stroke or kick with the amount of drag it will create. So, more power will not necessarily make you swim faster, it most likely will create more drag and make for a more difficult swim therefore burning more oxygen.

We ultimately want to be hydrodynamic, streamlined. Some simple tips that will help us achieve this are shoulder flexibility, head position (which will also help us equalize better) and proper kicking with long blade fins.

Shoulder flexibility is HUGE!!! It will put your arms in the most hydrodynamic position and allow your head to be positioned properly (neutral head position, not looking at the bottom of the ocean), basically your biceps touching your ears. This will allow you to cut through the water like a knife… again, exerting less energy and using less O2. When I spearfish, I have one arm extended over my head holding my speargun/polespear and the other hand over my nose to equalize with my elbow tucked into my chest. This provides me a very hydrodynamic body position for spearfishing.

Your kicking is your engine. It is what will give you the propulsion necessary. With long blade fins, the fin only works when the blade is bent. It’s not about doing a fast kick. The faster you kick the more drag you will create (remember, drag is not good). It’s about doing a nice wide kick, originating from the hip, with the right amount of power to keep the blade bent.

In freediving, besides the ability to equalize,there has to be a happy marriage between three things to make you an efficient freediver; Comfort/relaxation, your technique and your breath hold. If one is weaker than the other, the stronger one will have to compensate for the lack in the other one. Example, if you have insufficient technique (most likely will also make the dive less comfortable) than you’ll have to have a better breath-hold to make up for the lack in technique. If you have a better technique you can afford to not have as long of a breath hold. Both breath hold and technique will ultimately have to balance with comfort and relaxation… the mental game of freediving.


 Of course, there are other factors that will help your freediving such as equalization, having a good freediving gear, diet and physical conditioning but the efficiency in the water can be corrected easily and give you immediate results.

I hope with this little bit of advice it will motivate you to focus more on your technique which in turn will give you a better overall dive…….and make freediving less of a “drag”!

Safe diving! Errol


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