Having arrived, as usual, at 10 a.m. after breakfast at Club Serena, I found that almost everyone was so exhausted after the previous day’s march, that even the morning yoga hadn’t happened. A bit later the people slowly began to crawl together to the pool area, complaining of pain in various limbs.
Our spearfishers, once again, went hunting early in the morning. And for the rest of us, at least for those who were able to, a static breath-holding session was planned. As always, it all started with breathing. We gathered at a gazebo on the beach and under Julia’s supervision did some breathing exercises for about half an hour. Then Julia told us to disperse, to sit somewhere in a more comfortable position and do a few breathing cycles on ourselves, then to make a single breath-hold on land. After that we suited up and got into the pool.
Just like the last time, we placed ourselves in the water near the side of the pool and started breathing up. Then Julia gave a command to make the last six deep breaths and begin when ready. Having lowered my face into the water, I mentally walked through the entire body to make sure that absolutely all the muscles were relaxed: from the toes up to the waist, up the spine, neck, up facial muscles and jaw, and arms to the tips of my fingers. Then tried to calm down my thoughts and just float still on the surface…
Many say that they do not like to do static. On the contrary, I enjoy it. The relaxation, which comes with it, is unlike anything else. I am suspended in the water completely relaxed. My body weighs nothing. Beneath me and above me – infinity. My thoughts are far away. I do not need to care about anything, don’t even need to breathe. My heart beat slows down.
When a sense of discomfort increased, I, as Julia taught, stretched out my whole body and pulled my diaphragm muscle up as much as I could to use the last air stuck in the bottom of the lungs. That gave me another 10 or 20 seconds. Then I raised my head from the water and took a breath. The first time I did 2:50. We started preparing for the second attempt by breathing up. As a rule of thumb, the time at the surface should be 2.5 to 3 times longer than the time spent under water. So after a three-minute breath-hold we breathe for at least 6 minutes. I did a 3:06 on the second attempt and 3:30 on the third. And that was the end of the static session for the day.
And after dinner we took a boat and went to a place where we were told sea turtles could be seen. But on the way we made a stop to have another depth diving training. We dropped two lines – one on each side of the boat. “Advanced” divers occupied one line – and we, the dummies, the other one. During the training freedivers dive one at a time. While one dives, the rest are waiting at the surface and breathing. And the one who is underwater is always watched by an instructor. The practice of freediving shows that all the troubles usually happen to freedivers on the ascent in the upper 10 meters of water. Therefore, a stand-by person dives to meet a rising freediver and ascends beside him, looking into his eyes. This is to ensure that he is conscious. At the first suspicion that something is wrong, a stand-by comes to help and pulls a freediver to the surface.
Unfortunately, we had a chance to make only a few dives. I dove a couple times, pulling myself down the rope. And then suddenly a strong current appeared. I dived, finning down, and upon ascent I drifted away from the rope. I looked up to see where I was going and saw the boat directly above me. I started paddling away to avoid bumping my head against the boat and suddenly found a rope. I continued my ascent along it and upon surfacing found that it wasn’t my rope, but rather the rope on the opposite side of the boat. Because of the current it was pointless to carry on diving; and we set off for the reef to look for turtles.
Usually the water in this area of the Philippines is very clean and visibility in the water is at least 15 meters. But on that day we were unlucky: Some kind of haze was suspended in the water; and we could see for no farther than five meters. We dispersed throughout the reef to look for turtles, having promised to shout if anyone saw them. And I soon spotted one. The turtle was about two feet in length. It slowly floated at a depth of several meters; and it was accompanied by a pair of small, needle-looking fish. I called the guys, dived, and swam after it. The turtle noticed me, gained speed, and started escaping into the depth. Who would have thought that that seemingly clumsy creature, slowly paddling with its flippers, could develop such a speed? Soon I needed to surface and had to say goodbye to the turtle. Then the guys came by, but the turtle had already been gone. And because of poor visibility we failed to find it again. We swam for a little longer, then returned to the boat, pulled the anchor, and headed back to the hotel.
Sometime later our spearfishers came back. When their boat came to shore, our entire team gathered there to greet them. The meeting was stormy. It looked as if the tribe was greeting their men returning from the hunt, and, in fact, that was so. It turned out that the hunters shot enough fish for us all. For dinner we had fried fish, fish soup, and sashimi. And another day ended.
The end of the sixth day.
The text and video © 2010 Sergey Stadnik
The photos ©2010 Sergey Stadnik, Vasily Avseenko
The music mix used in the video is Jabberwock (Alternative Afterhouse Version) by Scyscraper