Category Archives: Freediving Blog

A weekend in Sligo.

Gin clear

Gin clear

Well what a blast. Visibility in Mullaghmore has been exceptional of late. 8-10m and I’d guess 12 at one point as well. Rob was down and hit 18m CW on his dives with more in the tank I think and 3.22 static. The sun shone, big smiles, everybody’s happy. Plenty of life about and while exploring another area Mark and myself dived into a huge area for lobsters. It’s always good to go exploring.

 

Saturday night saw my mind blown at the opening of Magnetism. Magnetism is the first in a long list of developments at Hazelwood house.  It’s based only 10 minutes from Sligo town and on the shores of Lough Gill. The party was in full swing and these guys know how to throw one.  I was thrilled to hear they will be opening a distillery there soon as well. Sligo whiskey, yes please.

The installations are exceptional. Don’t like arty stuff? You will like these as the sense of scale and space are just brilliant. Some of it is just too cool for school. Get out to see it while you can.

magnetism vhs cascade

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re off to Kerry next weekend with Seasynergy on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th. You can book direct with me or via Lucy seasynergy@gmail.com 0) 877850929

Summer is looking up guys. Get in the Ocean and have a great one.

Sustaining the stoke 4000 years ago.

cooking on the beachSo a short while back I was at the clean coasts gig supported by some great local people and local businesses. There were various talks on where the groups had collected tonnes of rubbish. Hopefully we will start to providing an underwater part of this in the future. There were also some talks on the archeology in the area. Now I had heard about this fulacht fiadh back in September but I have to admit its significance at the time was lost on me. I am not aware if the exact date has been calculated yet but 3-4000 years seems to be agreed upon. The fulacht fiadh was used for cooking or bathing by putting hot stones into it, but it’s really unusual to have one on a beach.

Now I like tripping in me van. So do some friends of mine and without doubt some of the best experiences we have had as a group have been to rock up and circle the wagons at a beach spot, Post surf, dive or swim the bbq gets fired up, we eat and imbibe a few drinks. Good friends, good food and maybe a spectacular sunset over the Great Atlantic. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat. You retire to bed tired from the Ocean but stoked to be alive and to be so blessed. Given the recent good spell of weather, history is just repeating itself.

It’s a real mind bender to think our ancestors were doing much the same gig 4000 years ago. Won’t be long before they unearth a bronze age surfboard or speargun. No doubt a lot has changed in 4000 years but some things stay the same.

One thing that has changed is the debris some of us leave behind. I do think we need a cultural shift on this. The take three initiative, where anytime you are walking on the beach you pick up three pieces of litter is a great idea. On the walk on the beach yesterday evening as the sun was nearly setting I was mentally recording what bits I would pick up on the return leg. There were empty bins in the car park so I didn’t even have to put them in the van and bring home. No the beach wasn’t spotless when I was finished but some people noticed it. Hopefully the more of us do it, the more people will be inclined to do it until we reach a tipping point and it becomes the norm,

It starts with you and me.

Clean Coasts.

Big smiles for 2015

Janey, I haven’t posted anything here in awhile.

So the Christmas is over and the new year is here. Last Saturday saw me with a big silly grin on my face as I drove away from the Ocean. It wasn’t that I had just spent the last few hours in it. It wasn’t that I was still toasty warm as I had a new suit and the heating left on in the van for changing. Nor was it that I had my super Stanley ultra flask with a piping hot brew ready for drinking.

The item that really brought a smile to my face was the crowd. This in itself is unusual in the surfing fraternity. I was finished though remember. I was really just astounded by the sheer volume of people making use of the playground that is our Ocean. Some were on boards others were heading out on kayaks, some were walking. Yes the sun was shining, yes the place was probably the only spot with half decent surf for a long while but still to see a busy car park in early January is a great thing to my mind.

For those of us who dislike crowds it just means we have to get off our asses and explore a bit more, it’s not like there is a shortage of coastline, dive spots, surf spots or swim spots.

Hopefully this will continue. People protect what they value and use in their lives. The more people that believe in the beauty of our Oceans and seas the better.

Hoping you all have a great 2015.

Feeling blessed to be able to call this place home.

 

Heart to heart,

picture of a heartThe heart is a pretty amazing organ. You only get one but if you’re lucky maybe you get to share it today and every other day with someone else.

As freedivers you gradually learn to control it better, mainly by slowing it down. Relaxing, breathing, calming. You can also train it to react to a form of autogenic training. The heart just pumps away, second after second. The way it evolved from when you were a foetus in your mothers womb is pretty amazing. Starting with two cavities like a fish, it further divides to three cavities like an amphibian as if preparing us for a life both above and below the water and finally to four cavities and our mammals heart. The slowdown of the heart (bradycardia) is a well documented dive reflex when we are immersed in water. This happens to everyone, even people who hate water and panic, eventually their heart rate will fall too.

A freediver simply trains to work this reflex. It makes you a “better” freediver. More relaxed and at home in and under the water. It also makes for countless hours of fun at medicals. At the end of the day it still needs care. Regular exercise gets it going faster, relaxation and meditation gets it going slower. Some people will say you only have so many beats in it anyway so whats the point? Like anything if looked after, it will look after you.

Stressing the heart through exercise is a good thing. Stressing it through stress is a bad thing. Seems pretty simple to say, sometimes harder to do in reality. If you have never worn a  heart rate monitor during exercise please try it. If you freedive, try it during a breathhold. It’s amazing to see what happens. You can listen to mine here. This was part of the Doc on ! we were part of which is here.  We could have gone lower but as you hear the Doc’s machine could have been damaged. Was really cool afterwards when he showed me the flatline too. Anyone’s  heart will do this with the right training and time. Nothing special about mine, except of course to me. Negative stress raises the heart rate and keeps it raised in our flight or fight response throughout the day. That stuff causes heart disease. Raising it far higher for brief periods during exercise helps prevent heart disease.

An amazing organ, an amazing muscle. It can catch you out of course. Sometimes when you least expect it. Walking down the street your eye might just connect with that someone special and your heart stops, even if only for a moment. Don’t worry it will start again, hopefully.

Happy Valentines Day.

Sligo is the Adventure capital!!

Jelly

 

 

 

What a diverse bunch of heads we have in Sligo. OK while I appreciate I am going to be biased as I was born and reared here the facts speak for themselves.

Last night the newly organised and re-energised Sligo Adventure Hub kicked off with a social to lay out their plans. The committee deserves great praise and a great crowd landed in to Fureys pub. But my oh my what a diverse bunch of people.

Barry Mottershead shared his story of how born in South Africa and though he travelled the world he came back to Sligo. He has done countless interviews on charging the monster that is Mullaghmores big wave but he hasn’t just stayed here for that. It’s the combination. Barry will be launching his new Kayak tour business shortly.

Our next speaker was Blaihthin Sweeney from the Rennafix group. In essence the group helps people out that are dealing with mental health issues by helping them enroll on different outdoor/adventurous pursuits. Trying to get a little natural endorphins going  to help with mental health.

So between the epic mountains we have here and the mighty Atlantic Ocean it’s difficult to see yourself anywhere else. The range of activities is growing, we have had surfing for I don’t know how long but long anyway and now Stand up paddleboarding and kayaking are coming in to their own. Was also very excited to hear we should have some coastering starting in Sligo this summer to.

The big, big news is we also have our own home grown Aida instructor for freediving. Yes he is in Sligo too. So probably the ultimate underwater adventure sport now has two instructors in Sligo. This is a great thing and badly needed to grow the sport. I studied Aida up to a three star before moving to AA but like anything the agency itself is less important than the instructor . Our Aida instructor is none other than legendary waterman and all round good guy William Britton. William along with Warner run N.W adventure tours who do hiking and moutain-biking etc all along our spectacular hills and mountain tops.  He surfs like a pro as well. Will keep everyone posted on his plans, yes this is competition for me I suppose but  this is great for freediving in Ireland which is what it’s all about.

I could wax lyrical about the beauty we are lucky enough to share here but really the best way to see it is see with your own eyes. Yeats did his best to describe it but living it is different. Being in the scenery rather than just looking at it. Even better if you experience it while taking part in an activity. One of the things I dearly love about my beloved home county is this. As I sit typing this drivel I am just outside Sligo town. 10 minutes takes me to Strandhill for a surf. 10 minutes takes me to the foot of Cnoc na Rea mountain and a short while later I can be taking in majestic views of my Atlantic. 20 minutes brings me to Mullaghmore where some of the best diving is via the shore so no need to launch a boat. Along the way you will pass some of the oldest meagalthic structures in Europe and jaw dropping scenery. That’s before you start whatever you are about to start.

Make adventurous plans for Sligo this summer. You won’t be disappointed.

The Kingdom by the Sea,

spear weekend 06.08.2011 048is one of Paul Theroux “travel” books. I loved it and recommend that along with The Happy Isles of Oceania and The Pillars of Hercules. I captioned travel because he doesn’t do travel books in the normal sense. Focusing instead on the people he meets. The situations he finds himself in and the social-geographical climate he encounters. There’s no line about what particular cathedral or castle/landmark to visit as far as I can remember.

In kingdom by the sea, one aspect that he had trouble getting his head around was this fascination of people who drive to the seaside and then stay in their cars watching the sea. I had never thought it odd but in retrospect I suppose it is unusual. Of course many get out and walk along the promenade or the beach. But others simply sit and stare. Essentially Theroux’s hypothesis is they/we are staring at infinity and the wonder beyond.

Culture has moved on, now we no longer sit and stare. (as much) When the climber reaches the top of the cliff, he is no longer there just to view the awe inspiring landscape but legs akimbo, launches himself off the edge. The French of course turned it into art. When the diver meets the Ocean or the Sea he no longer stares but dives in and down. Onwards goes the exploration. The blue water sailor only happy when he has sea room and no sight of land, the silence and mystery of the worlds Oceans enveloping him. Only now is he free.

Free to what? Free of gravity, free of the terrestrial earth, free of land, free of judgement, stress or worry. Free to be human or be more than human. Free to glimpse magic of an intensity not yet known, free to experience the very fabric of life itself.

It’s nearly the end of the first month of 2014. The time when most new years resolutions fail or have failed. But now more than ever, it’s time to jump in.

 

Dancing in the moonlight

OK I wasn’t actually dancing but I was in the moonlight. It was mental bright and my feet were kind of drawn toMoonlight 011 the beach as midnight approached. Tide was out and only a small gentle pulse of a wave trickled on to shore. The air was still and cold, I think I could have shouted across to Donegal or Mayo and the sound would have carried.  It was a kind of stillness, light and eeriness that Moonlight 023Moonlight 040lets your imagination run riot without  use of any “recreational substances”. The Ocean was so calm, still, mirror like, lake like even dream like. The depths of it hiding the torrents, rage and fury it had unleashed on this same coast just a week earlier.

If the metal man was ever going to jump down off his perch and waded ashore tonight would have been the night. As it was his lantern was twinkling away, always a constant light in this watery realm, ever changing with the tide. Tripod and camera set, it wasn’t long before the hands were getting numb. But if the body wanted to go back to warmth, the mind and spirit wanted to stay and bask in the moonlight, in the atmosphere, in this moment in time that was surely fleeting. And it was.

After an hour or more and happy with some of the pictures, (you need to click and enlarge to do them any justice) I drove off thinking the other side of the bay might hold more wonders. Even as I left Dead mans point I could feel or sense the light changing. On the far side of Sligo town, it was dramatically different. It was like any other moon lit night. Nice sure , but the magic was gone. The thrill of the unknown, of the other world tinged with both fear and wonder was gone. Replaced by normality again.

Lesson learned, no matter how numb the fingers go, stay with the magic. It doesn’t last long.

 

Swim into 2014

Great northern pool comp 2012 002

 

 

OK so for any of you guys swimming more in 2014 or loosing weight etc here are some pointers.

 

Disclaimer, I am not a swim instructor but swim 2k most nights with drills and 3 k if going long so am reasonably competent. If you find it difficult to swim more than 10 lengths of a pool without stopping I would suggest go to a swim class or one to one for a few sessions.

 

1. When you are going swimming, swim. Seems pretty obvious but 80% of people talk at the end of the pool while they take a break for a minute or two. That minute becomes 10 and you start swimming when you start getting cold. Plan your rest breaks 2 mins tops and talk in the steam room or Jacuzzi when your session is finished. Don’t talk, swim

2. This one is mainly for the guys. Get tight shorts or jammers. Board shorts and baggies cause a MASSIVE amount of drag, that you won’t believe until you try the others. Let’s be clear, I am not recommending the Budgie smugglers/bannana hammocks but rather the tight fitting shorts, the length of which is up to you. Yes you will think people are looking at you etc but actually they are not ( how vain are you brah? ) and you are going to be in the water shortly anyway. As you get older you care less what people think.

3. Warm up, if you can stretch a small bit before the swim. If you feel you will look like a twat stretch before you go out.  Decide beforehand how many lengths you will do, then how many as a warm up, say 20-25% of your total. Allow about 10% of your total for a warm down. This just means taking it easy in both. Ignore the desire to keep pace or race with someone swimming in the same lane or beside you.

4. Drills. Don’t do the same thing every night. I do drills two nights a week and a long straight swim one night. Some drills: catch up, this slows the stroke down. Your leading hand stays on the surface of the water until the recovering hand joins it. Fists, swim with your hand in a fist using your forearm to catch more water on the stroke. Board/float, swim lengths just kicking with the float in front of you. Speed set, flat out as fast as you can, swim up take a breath or two then swim back down slowly. Repeat as much as you can. If the pool has a minute counter at the end watch that, decide on a set amount of time for two lengths. The faster you do one the more time you have for rest. Try swimming with a pull buoy for a few lengths, if you notice how much easier it seems your legs and feet are causing you drag and need to be worked on. Youtube is your friend here. Swimming instructors will all have an opinion on drills so see disclaimer above but work for me. You can lose weight swimming but you need to do it fast and have a reasonably high length count I think. Your arms should be hanging off you at the end of a good session.

5. Etiquette. Apart from the normal pool rules there are a few unwritten ones that may seem obvious and some that don’t. Don’t dose yourself in deodorant/aftershave prior to swimming, it gets in the back of my throat, you complete bastard who ever you are. If someone is swimming behind you and they are faster let them pass at the end of the next length. Some swimmers will tap your feet to give you an indication. Stay to one side at the end of the lane if resting as staying in the middle will be in the way of people turning. Think about the other persons speed if you are about to do a slow drill, don’t set off in front of them.  Don’t be afraid to use the “fast” lane. Many of the swimmers are the same as you or slower than you think and if you let people pass you will have no worries. Swimming with someone faster than you is good. It brings on your own swimming. If they are slower use them as a guide.

6. Hydrate, Unless you are swimming/training for more than an hour avoid the sports drinks. Drink water and sip between sets. Sports drinks add too much sugar so make no sense if trying to loose weight. Just be water.

7. Slow down to speed up. Work on reducing the amount of strokes to do a length, work on slowing down over a long distance so you keep that pace and a faster time overall.

Lastly and this is one I saw on facebook. It doesn’t matter what you eat between Christmas and New Year. It matters what you eat between New years and Christmas.

Just keep swimming, it will do good in your heart, your body, your mind and your freedive training.

 

 

2014, Journeyman or “The Journey, man!!”

Boat through the rocks

 

Isn’t that what we are all on here on this terrific little spinning globe of liquid and some clay we reside on ?

 

 

 

So it’s that time of year when we set out our goals, aspirations, wishlists, to do lists for the year. In order to achieve our ideal. Our ideal weight, career, relationship, life etc. When we finally get feed to the fishies does it all matter?  I’d sure like to think it does.

The Zen master said, once you achieve nirvana, all that’s left to do is laugh, he also said this could be a good thing or a bad thing we don’t know the full story so lets not get too excited or depressed about where we are right now. It’s the busy season for self development and goal setting. Worthy ideals, even if only a few take them through to achievement. It’s surely about the journey rather than the destination, right? Yes the journey is dammned hard at times but every so often you look around and see someone else,s journey that you would not wish upon your worst enemy. So like the swell studded Ocean, the peaks and troughs come marching along. Sometimes you are on the crest of the wave and loving it and sometimes you are in the trough getting the shit kicked out of you. It’s a good an analogy for life and  should be taught in schools I tells ya.

So despite our goals we may feel like we ended up back where we started or at times even further back than that, do not pass go, do not collect €200 etc. But it’s a long road and the time will pass anyway. The time will pass anyway. You may have heard it said that there is no difference between the optimist who says everything will work out in the end but does nothing about it and the pessimist who says it can’t be helped and so does nothing about it.

Research has shown that it’s not actually the achievement of a goal that brings us satisfaction ( although that’s a good thing ) but the progression towards that ideal. So we feel crap when we stagnate and good when we are making moves towards something. So with 2014 around the corner it’s time to bust a move. Grab the swimmers, the runners and the notepad and decide what 2014 will do for you rather than you for it. All part of the journey.

See you out the back.

 

Competitiveness

monfin

 

 

That sure is a tough one. Where do we draw the line in competitions?

 

 

The line is always part of a balancing act. If we are not pushing ourselves are we progressing?

This runs amok in all sports I suppose, well maybe not darts. Train too much and you get injured, don’t train hard enough and you fall behind other team mates or the competition. It’s a very difficult one in freediving. The pressure, pardon the pun again seems to build and build as we chase that ever elusive number. Our freediving mentors tell us to relax, train thoughtfully and slowly and the numbers will come and they do. But easier said than done.

Sometimes it’s trying when you see someone effortlessly do in a day what took you months or even years to achieve. That’s talent but it will only go so far without proper training. Like any discipline after a while we hit a plateau and need to change some part of our regime to start noticing improvements again.  The experience of others has shown us that our bodies adapt to the stress and pressure but sometimes we do push them too far. The samba, blackout or squeeze for the freediver, the crippled knee for the footballer or runner.

Mentioning football brings me to a pet hate that I suppose is mostly apparent in team sports and while I am sure it is also the case in some individual sports I can’t ever recall seeing it in the freediving world. That is armchair critics. I really do want to jump down the radio and smack the head of the commentators or now they have fans that are allowed ring in and vent their spleen on why such a player or manager is crap and what they should have done. I have tried but I can’t seem to get my arm down the speaker and into the radio station to smack them around a bit. It’s unusual for me to be listening in the first place I suppose. I have never seen anything remotely like it in freediving but maybe I have been living a sheltered life. In competitions I have gone to, all I have mostly seen is encouragement, often with competitors coaching each other to possibly beat each others positioning. Many derive a great pleasure in helping even if it means they lose their own “record”. Yes it’s a comp so sometimes things are protested if required and the professionals have their sponsors to think about so it’s often at the smaller competitions that you see the greatest spirit. The one thing I have never heard is from a spectator saying they should have done this or trained that way etc.

In the end the competition is always within ourselves anyway and what we could do yesterday may not be possible to do today. We really need to listen to our bodies and see if it’s fear or common sense holding us back. It’s a long road traveled alone and like our seasons and our dives, sometimes you have to plunge into the cold darkness in order to return to the light.

 

Keep swimming towards the light brahs.

Happy Christmas to you all. Feargus.