We say it, we hear it , but what does it really mean? ….. Yes I can already hear calls of “horseshit” from some of my friends but please bear with me ;0)
Freediving takes many forms and covers everything from snorkeling 0 – 5m to deep elite divers going to 130m+. For many of our brethren it’s very much about achieving a certain depth or record and we admire and support this, however, for us it’s “not about the numbers.”
So what do we at Apneista mean when we say it’s not about the numbers and is it even true? Certainly we all enjoy reaching a new PB, who doesn’t like to see 20m, 30m 70m or any nice new round number on their dive computer? We also teach the Molchanov system alongside our own and for this there are specific depth, time and distance requirements to reach. Our instructors all love doing deep dives and I personally plan to continue to train and explore my limits. So it would seem that we have been spending a little too much time in woo woo land if we then express “numbers don’t matter “ or “we’re not interested in depths” the latter of which is most certainly untrue.
So with the above ramble out of the way we can now look at what we actually do mean and give some justification for why we’re often heard spouting such untruths.
When we established the Apneista teaching system one of our driving motivations was the connection that Matt and I saw between freediving and Meditation. I still haven’t found an activity that makes me focus my attention in the present quite like breath holding, I love doing deep dives and I’m continually amazed at what a powerful tool this is for accessing a deep meditative state. It is this experience that we feel is more valuable than any PB or number on a watch
If we are constantly trying to improve or to reach a specific goal the danger is that we can miss out on this state of just being present and allowing ourselves to be complete and still in the moment.
Ironically his can often stand between us and our goals . Forcing dives or trying to “push through’’ doesn’t really work with freediving, especially in the depth disciplines, ok maybe elite level athletes can do this but it can also lead to over training, injury and even loss of interest in an activity once loved.
Now observing this at the beginner/intermediate level its just plain ugly. Watching someone forcing themselves down to the bottom of the line, touching the tennis ball (like they will get a prize for doing so) before a slightly panicked and rushed ascent. “Congratulations you did 20m”, however, no amount of high fiving takes away from the fact that they were absolutely not in the present moment and most probably the dive felt horrible!
Contrast this to a diver taking their last breath, eyes closed or in soft focus, smiling, slowly pulling down the line, feeling the water on their face, the rope in their hands, scanning their bodies, releasing tensions and boop! “Wow I’m already at the end!” Slow relaxed pull, glide and pull back to the surface, feeling the sun on their face, smiling. Get the picture?
If your diving feels like I’ve just described then great you’ve likely got a good instructor. As well as good technique they are teaching you to feel the water, your dives – “progress” should be measured in comfort as well as depth.
If you’re experiencing the former, well then maybe question your motives, your coach, shorten the line and get those dives feeling good again.
So this is what we mean when we say it’s not about the numbers, goal setting is good, can provide motivation and allows for a structured approach to training, but keep it in perspective. 20m, 40m 60m etc. are all just numbers that will come and go. Once you pass them they will no longer seem significant so don’t give them the power over you now.
Progress slowly, safely, enjoy your dives and remember it’s “not about the numbers.”
Look after each other