Heres the story.
You start freediving and you quickly realise that you love it. After your first course you discover that the biggest challenge is equalisation rather than breath-hold, but you feel like you have a good grip on what to do. You continue your journey and start to get deeper. With some training you find yourself getting deeper and deeper, approaching the 30m mark. ” This freediving business isnt that hard!”, you say to yourself. Then it happens, you drop the line to 35m and somewhere between what you did before and what you are trying to achieve, it feels like you hit a brick wall… and equalisation failure of apparently insurmountable proportions.
You just found your residual volume failure depth. Good times!
What is residual volume?
Residual volume is the amount of air left in your lungs at the end of a forceful exhale. Its the air that you cant easily access. Try to equalise now after exhaling everything that you have… its harder than normal, even with an efficient Frenzel technique as your lungs feel like they want to swallow up the contents of your mouth, and they do!
The reason this happens is as we get deeper we not only feel the effects of Boyles law (the compression of a gas a depth) but we are also loosing some air to our mask, ears and sinuses. This leaves our chest feeling as if its being squeezed tight and unable to get air in to the places we need to in order to equalise.
“Ok, thats great… but how do I get past it?”
You have two main things to work on in order to get past this depth.
1: Chest and diaphragm flexibility
You need to be flexible, the more flexible you are the deeper you will go as you will have more access to the air in your chest.
2: Mouthfill equalisation
This is the technique that gets you deep, and its not easy. Follow our basic guide here.
Thats all well and good, but its more than that.
Its a state of mind. Its about relaxing and ALLOWING yourself to go deeper. Yep, thats one of the main things, simply letting yourself go deeper.
Depth, once you get past the physical changes it is nothing to be afraid of. Fear creates tension and the desire to turn back, it causes failures in equalisation and in technique. Im not saying dont be cautious, we all know that improvement in freediving is done in small increments, but dont be afraid of the unknown.
Personally i found that a little more focus on the meters before hitting failure depth was the key to me mastering and ultimately breaking past this barrier. You need to learn the sensations and changes that occur at this critical depth, just as you learned the feelings that happened to you when you were first learning to get past 10m!
Once you understand what its like to be at failure depth you can start to plan when to change your equalisation style to more of a mouthfill rather than the standard ‘pumping’ of the frenzel.
Allow your body to fall, dont resist, dont over extend any part of your body, keep focused yet relaxed… let gravity take you. Keep the feeling of pressure in your mouth and more importantly your nose, dont loose it to your lungs. Make sure the mask is equalised, so release the pinch for a moment, then clasp back on.
In the time it took you to read those four lines you would have probably gone past failure depth!
Ok, so its not as easy as reading a blog with a cup of tea in one hand, mouse in the other and an eye on the boss but its not as hard as you think… I promise. Just keep with it and trust yourself.
See you at 40! 😉