In the twelve years since PFI’s inception and the seventeen years since its first concept was developed, we continue to be the industry leader in the sport and recreation of Freediving.
Not only have we in all our iterations worked with seven athletes to 22 world records, too many national records to recount, work with the world’s top spearfishermen and women, develop the industry’s most complete industry specific standards and instructor programs, but are also contracted to work with the world’s most extreme and special operators with Red Bull and the Special Forces. We’re the company, the world’s best and most extreme call upon.
Read the full story on what sets PFI apart from the other Freedive Training organizations.
Hey guys! Thanks so much for doing the breath class! It definitely helped me two days ago. I was doing full diaphragm breathing in 2 bad zones i found myself in. I got slammed and it help me relax and be really confident in what was going on around me under water. I cant stress enough how much just doing that class may help us progress our sport. I just need to keep up with the exercises or do another class haha! Just wanted to drop a line and say thank you very much!
Check the link below from the full day! you can see when i get caught on the inside is where i take the proper breath and relax….
Aloha Kirk, Mandy,
Thank you for a great time by all of us in Kona. I had been wanting to take your course for many years because of input from friends who have taken your course. Somehow the scheduling never fit in with mine, having to schedule Patients six months in advance. It was so nice of you to enable me to plan a private course with 15 of my Spearfishing friends from all over the US. We had East coast Gulf coast, West coast and Hawaii represented.
Your class was more than I imagined it would be. Your professionalism and enthusiasm showed in the results of almost all of our class reaching personal bests of 100ft or more. Without your help and instruction we would never have been able to learn how to be better divers and safer divers. We now know the why, how and what we should be doing when freediving. All of us had “becoming a safer diver” as a goal, and we reached that with your help. I won’t hesitate to advise all spearos I know to take your course and become a better and safer diver.
I already have many of the participants looking forward to planning to take the Advanced course in Kona.
Once again thank you for your help and guidance. See you in Kona!
Aloha, Daryl Wong
Thank you so much for an amazing time at our ladies performance freediving course. I was not sure what to expect but gained so much information, insight and inspiration from both the classroom and pool settings. You are a dynamic teacher and the hours spent talking about the more technical aspects of the sport just seemed to fly by!
Although my goal was simply to keep up with the boys in the water, your passion for the sport is infectious. I have come away with a desire to do more, learn more, and push my mental and physical limits. thank you so much! I look forward to spending more time in the water with you and the rest of the Performance Freediving team.
Thank you again. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I jumped on the band wagon but it was everything and more. The safety component was invaluable. If you could see (and I think you have), all the heads, snorkels, bottoms, fins and mini-spears bobbing around Cat, it would make you laugh, cringe and pray. I will be incorporating a lot of your instruction on our family outings.
For me, personally, I gained a lot of comfort from the water skills instruction and the small “class” lectures and discussion. I have always been OK with hopping in and out of the boat/water with (albeit albatross) mask, fins and snorkel. My goal was to get beyond OK and set some modest goals for diving improvement. You definitely helped me move towards those goals! I look forward to the sea trials!
You are a great instructor and leader and I love your calm voice. It is still in my head as I think about the breathing drills you took us through.
Thank you so much for an awesome two days! I was looking at my Performance Freediving t-shirt and the “Explore Your Potential” is exactly what I did the past two days – I had no idea that I could hold my breath for more than 30 seconds!
On the way home Allison was commenting on what an inspiration you are for us women – your passion for the sport really made the class.
Kirk and Team,
Thank you for your personal insights and sharing your passion on freediving. My estimation about the class changed as the days progressed. I thought it would be easy to achieve my set goals of 4 minute breath hold and a 120 foot dive since I can swim 3 lengths of a pool under water breast stroke and hold my breath before the tables for 2 minutes. As my disappoint had swollen, by the 3rd day I came to the place in the road, the WHY, why not just follow the leader, yield to the experts , do exactly as instructed. I went through all the steps slow and deliberately and nailed the 100 footer on the last day which if you would have asked me the day before and I was honest I did not think I could do it, it just too deep. On the surface after the dive I was much clearer than the day before at 80 feet just by following the instructions provided by the team. One word WOW…nice job.
Safety was the driving force that preyed on me which allow me the break in to my piggy bank. The money was worth it, not only will I have a better and safer dives in the future, I will know instinctively what to do if another diver as an issue in the water.
You tamed a Cowboy with your Superhero talents and your Clark Kent demeanors, Thank you for your patience and enduring understanding to open my airways to the Sea.
I believe that quality instructors are a vital part of the learning experience. PFI apparently follows the most rigorous screening standards in the industry to determine which instructors are suited to make your diving experience successful. In addition to hiring what I would describe as the best instructors I’ve ever met, (& I’ve had hundreds) PFI requires that their instructors have all had prior experience working with freedivers in an educational capacity.
When you’re trying something new, it’s important to relax, have a sense of humor about it and be patient with yourself. One of the best things about your instructors is that they are a part of someone’s break-through moments and cheer them on as they improve these skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
The heights (or depths) that Erin, Ted and Mike took me & my wolfpack friends to in Miami was simply unimaginable, and the exhiliaration is indescribable! PFI has my undying (no pun intended) commitment as a lifelong student! I’ll be back for the advanced class, and hope to compete some day.
Dr. John Fernandez
|One more round of thanks. After seeing you guys in Cayman, I had no doubts about signing up for the course. I read the reviews, talked to a few people who had been taught by PFI, and quickly made the decision to work with the best of the best.
I will admit, I was a little nervous when I first signed up for the course. With no relative freediving experience, besides the occasional swim to 20 feet while out on the boat, and the underwater swims we would do in the pool for water polo and swim practice…other than that, I knew very little. However, I also realized the only way to gain experience is to get out there and do it. After reading through the manual, I also realized I didn’t know enough (yet) to do this safely…so my enthusiasm was flying through the roof for several months to get down there, still with the occasional flutter of nerves.
No regrets, whatsoever. You two, along with Robert and Jake, made the class one of the best I’ve ever participated in (and as a life-long student, I’ve sat through more than I’d care to admit). The lectures on physiology were particularly impressive, and I liked how you incorporated drills throughout the classroom sessions to keep us thinking and involved with the learning process.
The pool and open water sessions were just as impressive, if not more - the fact that you guys could work with 18 students in such a smooth, organized, and well-executed manner still wows me. It always felt comfortable, and I always felt like you guys were right there to catch mistakes we were making, answer questions, and let us know when we were also doing things correctly.
Erin, in particular (I know I said this before) I was very happy to have you there. Ted, you were awesome, don’t get me wrong - but a classroom of 17 guys and 3 male instructors could have been a bit daunting (although that tends to be the story of my life…tomboy at heart, I guess). Not just having a female there, but the fact that Erin has accomplished so much, and does what she does with the right amount of confidence, poise, and a personality I can look up to….well, that just topped it all off. That, plus I am so happy to have the help getting in and out of the wetsuit.
Thank you again for everything, I am singing your praises to everyone who asks about the course…and anyone else who will listen. Definitely planning on joining you guys in Cayman…in what capacity, well that will be determined…I will probably start bugging you two (or maybe even the email list?) about questions you’d like to see answered first and foremost for your community research-wise…then start tackling funding possibilities.
Hugs from NC, look forward to next time I see you!!
Thanks for an absolutely awesome freediving experience!!! I can honestly say that the course far surpassed all of my expectations! It’s not often that I have the chance to challenge the limits of my body and mind in such an exciting way. I’m still feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment at hitting 100 feet (twice!) and learning so much to build upon. I’m grateful to you all.
Thank you so much for teaching us and for everything else you did for us this weekend! It was a physically/experientially/informationally dense and intense weekend and we were definitely not ideal students, but you and Ted were always kind and patient, and the entire class was in awe of the skill level and dedication that you both present in the clinic. It was one of my lifelong dreams to formally learn freediving, and I could not have had more perfect instructors.
I just wanted to drop a quick line to again express my appreciation and gratitude.
I have been involved with numerous courses through the years, both on a professional and recreational level, and must say that none compare to the PFI course I finished with you!!
I am amazed at the amount of knowledge you shared with us, and how you were able to keep us engaged through out! It is quite apparent that you have a love of what you do and enjoy teaching! You were entertaining, engaging and very professional, all the while ensuring everyone’s safety and enjoyment, truly remarkable!!!
I was pushed beyond my normal comfort zone, and felt very at ease while doing so, due in large part to your relaxed, confidence inspiring ways!!! I will be practicing and training in order to improve, and look forward to participating in other programs you have to offer. I am looking to the future, trying to schedule a refresher in the Intermediate program. I am now hooked on freediving!!!!
Thank you again!!! This course was absolutely AWESOME!!!
I wanted to write you and your fellow instructors, Ted and Jake, a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the Basic Freediving Course. I had a great time and learned a lot. I was amazed at what was possible–I did better than I ever thought I could’ve! I also thought it was great that the course was so focused on safety. I look forward to seeing you again soon!
Thanks so much, Sincerely,
I just wanted to say thank you all, Kirk, Ted, Erin, Ren, Ashley and Jake, for the great experience I had in Key West for Performance Intermediate. I felt this class had a significant impact on my diving and breath-hold technique.
More importantly I think this class was a much needed reality check for me- it was humbling with respect to safety and supervision. I saw firsthand how vulnerable freedivers are even when we “are not pushing it” and why it is a life and death matter to dive with direct supervision by trained buddies. Frankly, I should have taken this class years ago.
On a personal note, all of you were tremendously encouraging and positive with me as I stumbled at times learning a completely new way of breathing and diving. I want to thank Ren in particular for helping me and supervising me so closely on our open water day, as well as Ted, Erin and Jake for our water time. I look forward to the next opportunity to learn more at PFI and I will recommend all my friends and family to take your class. Thank you.
I wanted to be sure to let you know what an amazing time my husband and I had at the Basic course last weekend. Even though we’d already taken an AIDA beginner’s course, your basic program added a whole other dimension to our diving
Ted and Erin (and Ashley and Genevieve too) did a fantastic job. The material was presented in a clear and comprehensive way and the safety protocols were beaten into us…I feel much more confident being both a diver and a dive partner now. Ted’s equalizing workshop solved my ear problems and I comfortably made it to 20 m which was a huge relief to me. I had Ted for both ocean sessions and his teaching style was exactly what I needed. I felt comfortable in the water and completely safe and confident in challenging myself to do the max. dives. I left the weekend feeling like I learned so much out of the water and accomplished so much in it.
We can’t wait to take the Intermediate course in August.
Thank you for creating such a high quality school- we loved it.
Dana Beck Harder
I came from Brazil to attend the basic course in Fort Lauderdale, where we were blessed with very good conditions. Sunny days, warm waters, excellent visibility in the ocean sessions, and for my satisfaction, the course was even better than I thought it could be.
Instructors Ted, Erin and Ashley were fantastic, running things with a great mix of professionalism and friendship. The other students were also very nice people, and I am absolutely sure we all went home with a much better knowledge of this great sport.
I could reach personal bests both in the pool and in the ocean, and it never felt hard. I could do all my dives very easily, relaxed, thanks to the expert coaching we had. I would totally recommend this course to anyone interested in learning about freediving or improving previous skills.
Now I feel much more confident about diving, and I will definitely try to attend the intermediate course whenever possible. My advice, if someone is thinking about participating, is GO and HAVE FUN. We were a group of normal people, and we all did beyond what we thought possible.
Keep up with this great work guys, hope I can see you again.
Erin, thanks to you and the others, this course was GREAT!
To my amazing instructors, Erin and Ted,
(and to Mandy and Kirk as well of course!)
Just wanted to say thank for all of your help, patience and support during the Beginner’s Freediving course last month. This course was my first real glimpse into the sport of freediving and I loved every minute of it! PFI has forever changed the way I dive and I cannot thank you enough for providing me with the skills to continue pursuing this beautiful sport on my own. Although we were rained out for the second boat trip, I am excitedd to come back and finish the course in the future…it’s something to look forward to!
You have a stellar program and I will absolutely be recommending this course to all of my friends who love to dive. Thanks for everything and best of luck in all of your competitions!
Sincerely, Caitlin Krakower
Thank you for a very remarkable and enjoyable learning experience for my mind and body.
I had no idea there is so much to learn about freediving.
The structure of the intermediate dive course is an incredibly successful way to integrate physical conditioning and information. Hour by hour it developed my abilities and cautious confidence so that I was able to hold my breath 4 ½ minutes face down in pool water first, and then finally to freedive 66’ in the Gulfstream. And there are still two more open ocean dives to complete the program!
I arrived at class as a skeptic. I have been interested in scuba diving and remember reading whatever I could about it’s physiology in junior high school (remember “Sea Hunt”?). Because of my interest in human physiology and mechanics, I became an orthopedic surgeon. I have been swimming and snorkeling for decades, and I’m certified in SCUBA. I always thought it was silly to freedive more than 20’ (except for setting an anchor).
I read an article in the New Yorker magazine in June and was in disbelief at the depths and times people were freediving. It seemed a sport for people who are trying to kill themselves. And, apparently, the physiology I learned about the need to breathe and how long one can survive without air, was wrong.
Months later while lap swimming, I saw your class leaving the pool with flipper cases the length of pool cues, and I fortuitously stopped you to see if my suspicions that I was witnessing a freediving class were correct.
You were patient enough to talk with me three times before I decided to pay the 50% deposit (I told myself I could still back out). That got me the book and the T-shirt.
I devoured the book and completed a couple of the Apnea tables (without instruction). I arrived at class expecting perhaps a few other crazies, or for it to be cancelled for lack of students. The class was full (16+)!
The first classes clearly explained how dangerous the sport is, and I signed more liability waivers than my patients undergoing surgery do. We learned 90 people died freediving last year and that near death experiences, “blackouts”, while not totally avoidable, can be treated with rescue techniques that must be provided with every dive. You showed videos of them, you mimicked them, and you spent half the class, in and out of the water, going over safety techniques.
You also filled us in on the physiology that is the basis of what we experience during dives and the training techniques used by world class divers like yourselves. You explained it, showed slides and video clips, drew diagrams , and told personal anecdotes. I am particularly appreciative of Kirk giving of his time so freely during the breaks to tell us about his experiences (i.e. Tiger Woods, David Blaine, underwater “Formula 3” Freediving races using battery powered propulsion between one’s legs).
I was apprehensive about the open ocean sessions, and was really impressed with the floating grid set up and the adjustable diving lines. I felt like a puppy following the trainer’s instructions and returned to shore euphoric.
The following day, I never saw so many Man o’wars . Kirk dealt with the circumstances and cancelled the day’s diving in a direct, unapologetic fashion.
Freediving as a sport today must be where SCUBA was 60 years ago. Thank you for presenting it and teaching it with such integrity.
Now that I’ve completed this portion of the training, I’m going to be able to explain to my diving buddies and my pulmonologist friends that freediving isn’t totally crazy.
I’m looking forward to the make up sessions.
I just recently completed the Performance Freediving Class in Florida. I cannot believe how much I gained from that weekend! Thank you Kirk, Mandy, Ted and Erin for helping me to achieve new personal performance records for myself. As a freediver/spearfisherman, before this class, my own personal depths were 33ft for 50sec. At the end of your weekend, I was freediving/spearfishing in the ocean to a depth of 49ft for 1:10 and 44ft for 1:20 and achieved a static apnea of 3:45 in the pool as well.
Then, I attended the 3 day Spearfishing Class.Thank you Sheri and Daryl for an incredible week!! I learned how to achieve better hunting techniques such as aspetto, which is lying at the bottom and using different methods to draw the fish in towards you. We also studied fish identification, and practiced stalking skills, shot placement and target practice in the ocean at 30ft! That’s only a few of the numerous topics covered to improve my spearfishing skills.
More importantly, the focus was also on how to be a better dive buddy by observing my partner throughout the dive and being ready to assist in the event they needed help. Great real life rescue scenarios in the ocean taught me how to competently handle an emergency situation requiring an intervention. I can see why “one up one down” is truly the safest style of hunting.
The opportunity of having Sheri and Daryl working with me one on one, critiquing me on my ascents and descents with each dive, encouraging me to deeper depths knowing they were right behind me, and coaching me on my hunting techniques, especially Sheri with my aspetto, are just priceless experiences!
This was the best week. Thank you, all of you!
Erin and Ted,
I want to thank you for providing us an unforgettable and very rewarding experience. I loved the way you guys were into the class making sure that we learned every detail necessary. Erin and her demonstrations on near blackouts and blackouts were incredible. Also, I applaud the company’s initiative to provide this courses to make the sport of Free diving safer for everyone. I recommend this course for anyone looking to improve their knowledge on safety for free diving or improve their comfort level in the water.
Thanks guys! See you soon.
-Juan Carlos Morales
Thanks for all your help and considerable patience, during the September 2009 Vancouver course. I learned a bunch more stuff out of a very full-packed syllabus, set a new (well, sort of) “personal best” in CWT & met some really neat people–not to mention the teachers, neat people also.
Goes without saying that I greatly appreciate your attitude, around the sale of the rental suit. I’m looking foreward to diving with it again, but only in company. However, beyond gear, is the pro-social, pro-active attitude I feel Mandy and yourself display.
Thought about this a lot: “How do I express the ‘essential P.F.I. core’?”,say to U-Vic students, concisely & clearly?”. Those folks are hip & casual, but their I.Q.s are in the top 15% of the population–my explanation darned-well better be clear & coherent–intuitively obvious once set out and brilliantly worded, in fact.
What I’ve decided is that the “P.F.I. essence” can’t be caught via a purely cognitive process alone. Fact is, it’s about love.
Mandy & yourself love diving, you folks love the ocean, you love all the ocean’s residents (i.e. the non-human, permanent residents), you guys enjoy sharing your skills with others and you genuinely like the folks you’re working with.
People simply need to be open to that shared passion, but if they’re not–i.e. if there’s some latent fear (of cold, of entrapment, ofdangerous creatures, of starving &/or struggling for air) getting in the way–then they won’t “get it”. Then those folks may never engage with the ocean, in the particular timeless & elegant way Mandy & yourself (well …most Freedivers) can & that would be a great pity. Thanks again.
Am back to swimming, fin-kicking drills, practicing equalization, diving (where & when I can do so in company) & have put my “inner monkey” on notice that soon “we” will be doing tables (dry), eventually “we” will be back in the ocean and he should get used to that. I look forward to diving with Mandy & yourself again.
Yours for safer diving,
Mandy-Rae and Kirk,
It’s been over a week since Monterey and I’m still on a bit of a high. In four days I learned more about every aspect of freediving than in all my previous experience. Your professional, technical and safety-oriented approach to freediving gave me the confidence to explore my own potential and to exceed my personal expectations. Very exciting!!
Thanks again, I look forward to the next class!
Kirk and Mandy,
Thank you for showing me such a great experience during the intermediate freediver class this weekend. I got WAY more out of the class than I ever expected. It’s inspiring to see people so passionate about a sport and who have contributed so much to its advancement.
I won’t be able to make it out to the boat tomorrow (need to get some work done) but look forward to the Cayman trip in May and diving with you when you return to Fort Lauderdale. If there is any way I can help out with the business, planning the trip, promotions, etc…, please don’t hesitate to call me. I’d love to be involved with such a progressive organization.
Very Best Regards,
Dear Kirk and Mandy and the Team,
I congratulate you and your excellent team on the free diving course you recently held in Kona Hawaii on July 23, 2009.
From the class room to the pool and to the ocean the instruction was comprehensive and always clearly presented. The safety issues for freediving that were taught and used in the pool and ocean were really exceptional. In fact, every aspect of free diving was covered along with a 100+ page manual. The manual will serve me well as a ready reference of what I learned in the course.
If and when you are on Oahu again I hope you will not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do to make your stay here better. That is to say I would love to take everyone sailing.
F. DeWolfe Miller, MPH, PhD
Wow. Thank you guys for an awesome class. It was so much better than I could have imagined. I have heard other people rave about the course, but they just did not do it justice.
All of the instructors were superb. Kirk and Mandy you guys are the best instructors I have ever encountered- in any topic. The whole process was impressive.
I just wanted to thank you again for the great class and your incredible patience. I had such a great time in class and look forward to continuing free diving and continuing my education. I must say i was pretty nervous to start the class out, but after today i felt very comfortable and had a lot of fun! I am bummed i was not able to get passed 33ft, but i will get it down pat, all i have to do is lock the throat and equalize often! The education i received from the class was very good, your guys’ system is incredible how effective it was. I am very pleased with the class, i feel i have learned to dive safely and have more fun at it. I have to admit, i did not tell the complete truth about why i was taking the class, i took the class this weekend because freediving has been something i have wanted to do for a long time, but it intimidated me quite a bit. All the questions of “what happens when…?”, “can i do this…?”, and the thought of shallow water blackout all terrified me of freediving. I would dive for fun when we would snorkel, but i was never going to push it until i took some kind of class to learn how to do it right. The reason i took the class was to learn to dive right, but mainly i wanted to get over the initial anxiety about freediving. I am happy to say, I was successful in both these areas!! Mahalo (thank you) for all your help! Your class was more than i could have ever asked for!
I did have a question for you though, i was wondering if you see it okay for me to try depths once i get my ear figured out? Since, i was not able to get passed 33ft I didn’t know if i should try to depths without an instructor with me. Josh and I would like to go out and do some free diving, i just want to make sure i am continuing my “addiction” the right way!! Or is there any recommendations you have for myself that I should do to better my freediving ability? Also, would Kirk or yourself be able to talk to Maui Dive Shop about the freediving certification so maybe Josh and I can dive off of our boat?
Thanks again for all your help. I look forward to hearing from you soon and later on diving with you again! Take care
P.S. I’m HOOKED!
I just wanted to thank you, Kirk, Christopher and Richard for the class.
It was a great experience and you and your crew really opened up to the class members in a personal manner and made everyone feel comfortable.
Although I didn’t reach my goals due to clearing problems, I know that ill use these techniques and the confidence built from the class for the rest of my life. An invaluable experience… thank everyone for me.
Hi Mandy, Kirk, Ted and Erin,
Let me start by saying Thanks for a great course in Key West. I had a great time and learned WAY more than i expected too. Books,videos and activities have taught me a fare amount about freediving but they don’t come close to what you guys taught us in person. After all, no book is going to tell you to “breath” during an LMC. I felt confident under your supervision to push myself,and as a result gained new static and depth PB’s, not to mention a whole new passion for the sport. The course was a perfect balance of safety,education,technique,and FUN. Diving on the rig in blue water was a highlight for me.
I plan to continue my training using the techniques of PFI and will sign up for the Advanced course as soon as schedule and finance allows(and visas)
See you soon,
Hi Mandy, Kirk-
Thanks again to both of you for such an incredible class. Obviously it was great from the perspective of expanding my freediving ability and accessing my inborn freediving ability, but even more, it was honestly simply one of the one or two best classes I’ve ever taken in anything. The teaching skill, curriculum, teaching methodology, instructor/student ratio, schedule (classroom, pool, boat) – everything – was done almost perfectly to challenge us just far enough and help us see the biggest growth possible from day to day, and far in excess what I would have ever thought possible. It’s not that often that I finish a day, four days in a row, and say to myself, “Wow, I did something today that yesterday I would have said was impossible for me!” A powerful reminder we’re capable of a lot more than we think we are! I’d recommend you guys to anyone and if any prospective students ever ask for a reference I’m happy to provide one.
I look forward to seeing and diving with you both again some day soon! Have safe and fun travels!
Kirk, Mandy, Erin and Ted
I wanted to thank you all for your professionalism and patience; sometimes I really felt like a fish out of water. You answered all my questions and instilled in me the confidience to do things that I never thought I could do. When Mandy told me her best static was 6:25 that time somehow stuck in my head. That became my goal no matter how unrealistic it may have been. I remember thinking when I hit 6:00 on the static that I only had 25 seconds to go. I really didn’t remember much after 6:15 but when I came up and Mandy yelled out 6:45 it was the greatest feeling I have had in a long time.
Your course is worth every penny and I am looking forward to taking the advanced class next time you are in Ft. Lauderdale.
Best of luck and thank you all for one of greatest experiences of my life.
Kirk and Mandy-Rae,
I wanted to take a minute to thank you again for everything you taught our group in the private Key West Class last summer. Over the last year I have been able to utilize the techniques you taught me to make myself a much better and safer freediver.
This weekend a couple friends and I were freediving a deep wreck off St. Pete, FL. One of my friends and I each had to make some 100+ foot freedives to free our guns which had been drug down by large fish. I carefully watched my buddy on his ascent from the dive, and met him at 30′ like you had taught us in the class. As I ascended with him I could see he was in trouble, eyes frantic with blue lips. I helped him up the last few feet, and he blacked out at/near the surface. Thanks to your instruction, I knew how to protect his airway and wake him back up at the surface. I hate to imagine how wrong things could have gone if I would not have known what to look for and how to handle the emergency.
I can not thank you enough for the instruction and more importantly the emphasis on safety training during the class. I hope to see you again soon!
Thanks for the great instruction this past weekend.very professional/safe while maintaining fun, positive learning environment.
I will keep an eye on future courses to refresh and get some depth.
RE: Performance Free Diving Intermediate Course (Toronto)
Having just successfully completed the PFI Intermediate Course I have to say it was a very clear and concise course with its primary focus on safety and performance. The classroom and open water sessions were conducted with the utmost attention on safe diving, this left each one of the students with a level of confidence in there free diving knowledge and personal abilities. The course allowed each member of the group to explore and push their own personal limits in a safe environment. The personal attention of both Mandy and Kirk made it possible for each member of the group to overcome individual hurdles and go way beyond their initial goals. The Toronto clinic was another example of the highly developed professional instruction that has become a standard for PFI. Having had such a positive experience with PFI I look forward to yet again pushing my limits in the Advanced Free diving course. If you are looking to explore and maximize your potential this PFI course can take you there.
Dear Kirk, Mandy and Staff
Thank you so much for so professionally, knowledgeably and enthusiastically teaching me the proper techniques to becoming a much improved and safer freediver. You guys are definitely at the top of your game and it is reflected in the newfound skills and attitude that I have walked away with. For the first time I am really looking forward to getting out and continuing to practice these new skills over my love for spearfishing.
I never thought I would hear myself say this but your advanced freedive course really has me interested and I hope to see you all again.
Thanks so much to you all
Kirk & Mandy,
Just wanted to compliment you both again on a great program and a fun 4 days. Kirk, I felt your knowledge and ability to teach was outstanding, paired with Mandy’s skills and very genuine personality made an environment conducive for learning.
For me personally, it was the knowledge that I gained and the ability to challenge one’s limitations.
Thanks, and I look forward to diving with both of you again.
p.s. Craig was also extremely helpful and a fine asset to your team.
Dear Kirk, Mandy and PFD crew:
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for what I learned at the recent intermediate class in Newport, California. It might be the best training experience I have ever had. The outcome in terms of performance exceeded my goals and I thought my goals were pretty high.
I started diving for spearfishing this last January (five months before the class) and dove a total of eight days before I took the class and never dove deeper than 30 feet. While I did quite a bit of pool work in preparation, I was still extremely pleased with the static time (5:30) and depth (100ft) achieved at the class. Indeed time permitting, I felt I could have dove deeper.
It was great getting to meet my classmates and I hope to do some diving with them and you guys in the future. I believe I am a safer diver and look forward to taking your advanced class next year. Your exceptional professionalism, presentation skills and incredible knowledge of the sport convince me you are the best at what you do.
The physical and psychological benefits I received from this experience will never be forgotten. I would enthusiastically recommend your program to anyone seeking to become a better freediver. I considered myself interested in freediving before your class and now I really consider myself a freediver.
I got my package! The video was so great and it has gotten me super stoked for the coming season. Thanks.
Though we’ve been plagued by bad viz all spring, I have still managed a couple of outings. It is truly amazing how much more time I have under water as a direct result of your course. It has allowed me to stalk fish and really hunt more efficiently.
Best wishes, long breatholds and record depths,
It was such a pleasure for my family and I to meet you. You, Kirk, and Craig are really great instructors. You guys’ are such an awesome crew to just hang out with. I am still riding a natural high right now reflecting off of the accomplishments I have achieved with the class and most of all having the opportunity and privilege just to dive with you all. It is a wonderful feeling. I thank you all for putting this all together and the extra effort with the personalized training from each of you.
My wife and daughter think like wise. My wife, keeps saying you guys are so nice and humble people to be with. And, now she is really interested in taking the course as well. You are all so great with children too. My daughter had a blast. You made her feel so comfortable and even managed to crack a few laughs from her, she likes you guys alot. I thank you all again for the class and your dedication and effort with us all.
Please don’t hesitate to drop a line if any of you all are in San Diego.
I wouldn’t mind at all if you used my email on your website. It would be an honor.
BTW, I went freediving today; post PFI. I can already tell a difference in my comfort zone and bottom time. Breathing up PFI style, I was able to stay down longer and I felt right at home. Not even one contraction. Before the class, everytime I use to dive I always had contractions on my ascent. Anyways, thought I’d just share that.
You guys have a good one.
Thanks to you guys I’m fishing in 85ft of water. like this aj that I caught 85 feet down. I could not do this with out your help. My friends are envious of me now because of how deep I can go. Thanks a lot, I really mean it!
P.S. This aj pulled like a horse
Thanks, Frank Fornaris
class of 5/10/08
Hi Mandy, I just wanted to drop you guys a line and thank you for the extraordinary experience I had at your clinic last week. I’d say it was life changing if I wasn’t already hopelessly addicted to freediving/spearfishing, but it was definitely dive changing! It was like you flicked on the “potential” switch in my mind, I know I’m capable of so much more now.
This was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken, on any subject. Kirk’s deep knowledge of freediving and ability to articulate it in an informative and entertaining way was outstanding, as were you and Craig’s lecture segments; I was never bored and was always learning something new or looking at something I knew in a different way.
The water segments were, probably not surprisingly, my favorites. All the instructors were great, and even though I was trying to focus on so many things; breathing up, form, kick cycles, getting the snorkel out of my mouth, etc…, and was sure to screw at least one of them up on every dive, you guys always kept the atmosphere fun, calm and motivational. I have a tendency to get frustrated when I’m not doing something right, and I never felt that way at all.
I don’t want to ramble, but I’d just like to add that this class increased my stoke so much, I’ve been on a major natural high since we left Catalina. All the focus and hard work, the camaraderie with like minded people, the achievement of personal goals, ignited my chi and refocused my mind, incredible! If you guys do the advanced clinic in California, let me know. I’d be very interested in taking it.
Thank you all so much, I had a blast!
I’m still buzzing from such a great experience! Thanks to everyone involved. It was nothing short of incredible to learn and share the experience with such a great group. I think Mandy and Kirk are doing the community a great service with this course and can’t believe I waited so long to sign up! Keep up the good work!!!
Bentley T. Kerr
Kirk, Mandy & Rob,
I just wanted to let you know what a great time I had on the freediving course. It was without a doubt the best course I’ve ever attended on any subject. I really can’t think of anything you could do to improve it. I’ve been diving twice since the class and my level of comfort and technique have improved a lot. I’m more relaxed and able to just take my time and enjoy my dives.
Thanks again for coming to Bermuda. I’m looking forward to attending another one of your classes soon.
I hope you are able to enjoy your last few days in Bermuda. I want to thank you, Kirk and Rob for my own experience, one I’ll not forget. I really enjoyed every part! You have put together a super program able to challenge and reward everyone at every level while promoting team fellowship .
Again, thanks ever so much! And I wish you all the very best! We hope to see you again in Bermuda!
Dear Mandy and Kirk,
Thanks again for a wonderful class in Monterey last week.
You provided us with a fun and safe environment to acquire and practice new freediving skills. I was amazed by how much I was able to accomplish with your help in only four days. This was great! I will certainly try to join you for another class in the future, and this time, my son wants come along with me.
Good luck and best regards,
I just wanted to thank you for your excellent instruction this past weekend. Having always been active with land-based sporting activities all my life, I wanted to finally venture out into the water. I was a bit apprehensive in picking up freediving because of my limited experience in the water. After a quick search for lessons, I came upon your website but was again hesitant at the prospect of feeling out of place amongst experienced spearos and freedivers. In retrospect, never once did I feel that I did not belong and am glad that I can now dive with a knowledge base provided to me by two of the biggest names in the sport. Never did I imagine on the second day of training I would have a nearly 6-minute static breath hold and 66 ft. dive to my name. I went into the course with “spearfishing” in my mind, now all I can think about is the freediving aspect. I will continue to train (going to meet up with Xcott) and hopefully my allure towards diving will continue to grow. Once again, thank you for providing me your services and a new outlet for endurance competition.
Good luck with your performances, and I hope you two don’t get too burned out with all the traveling you do. I will be highly recommending your classes and perhaps next year I will be back with a couple new initiates.
Hi Kirk and Mandy,
I just wanted to write and tell you how great of an experience it was to take your course and dive with you in Toronto. My dad and I had to rush off to catch our flight in Buffalo (we made it in time, but it was delayed for two hours. Oh well) and I didn’t really get a chance to tell you then. Everything about the class was more than I ever could have hoped for, and I far exceeded my expectations for what I was capable of. I learned a lot about what the body goes through while diving, and how to use that to my benefit so that I can stay under longer, and go deeper. The most important thing for me though (and my mom) was the importance of safety. Not only can I hold my breath longer and go deeper than I could before, but I can do it safely, too. Another benefit of your class that I wasn’t expecting was finding dive buddies! Bob and Wei-bin (sp?) are planning to go diving next weekend, and I was going to go, except I’ve had a few setbacks since I got back home. I really can’t express how much I enjoyed the course. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m gonna keep diving when my ears heal, and I plan on taking your advanced course as soon as I can! Thanks for everything, and I hope to see you both (and dive with you both) again soon!
Hi Kirk & Mandy,
I was looking at your website and saw that most of the testimonials are from students who were already somewhat experienced at the course onset. Before the Malibu class last June my prior water experience was mostly the bathtub with a little splashing in the pool or beach while on vacation.
An easy customer testimonial from me would be this: Before signing up for the PFI Intermediate class last year I had worn snorkel and fins only twice; had never been deeper under water than a 3 meter pool; and had probably never held my breath more than a minute. After the class those limitations had disappeared.
The longer customer testimonial goes much deeper: I came to the course newly fascinated with snorkeling and wanting some safety training. A few months prior on a trip to Baja California I borrowed a mask and snorkel for the first time ever (at age 40) and discovered that there is something below the water’s surface! That had me hooked and I decided to take up ‘snorkeling’.
After researching on the web I learned that snorkeling on the surface and breath hold diving are completely different things. I didn’t want to just float on top and look down- I wanted to explore under water. I also wanted to live and tell about it, so I looked for some sort of ‘skin dive 101′ class. Nothing. Hundreds of places in LA to learn SCUBA but nothing for skin diving. I found only about 1/2 dozen English speaking skin diving or freediving training programs in the world. Luckily what appeared the best was also offering classes in my area (Los Angeles, California) just a month later.
I contacted Mandy Rae at Performance Freediving about their two day “Basic” class. After discussing my goals- even with my lack of experience- she suggested the four day “Intermediate” class instead. She was quite helpful in suggesting what I should look for in equipment and got me started doing some breath hold exercises.
When I arrived at the PFI Intermediate class I was somewhat apprehensive- even more so after meeting my fellow students and learning that most of them were quite experienced divers. I figured at least I would learn good safety protocols. The training did that but much more. My perceptions of the possible were exploded. I had never been much of a swimmer or all that comfortable in water. Many would consider a freedive class overkill for someone just wanting to get into snorkeling- but I wanted good safety instruction and this was the place.
The class was a perfect meld of scientifically founded theory with practical experience. I was amazed how a world class coach and world record holding athlete were able to present material in a way that a novice could easily comprehend. After the first pool session my nervousness disappeared. The emphasis on safety above all else was very comforting reassuring.
The ocean sessions were a bit tougher- with the cold green water and surface chop giving me a bit of nausea. The prior instruction and practice helped a lot and although I didn’t set any records I definitely stretched my own limits.
A few weeks after class I went diving with a classmate who is a very experienced diver. After the dive my classmate mentioned that if he didn’t know better he would have assumed that I had been diving for years due to my apparent ease and comfort in the water. That says a lot about the quality of training I received.
By the way- At class’ end I had done a five minute static breath hold and dove to 20 meters below the ocean surface.
Please feel free to let any prospective students contact me for a referral.
Jim White – Long Beach California
Kirk, Mandy & Andy:
It was a great experience for me attending the Performance Freediving clinic at Kona, I learn a great deal about breathing techniques, diving (swimming down and Sink Faze) and weighting ourselves for free diving. As a physician and free diver spear-fisherman with 24+ years of experience, I was very well impressed with the knowledge about physiology of freediving, respiratory and cardiovascular system that you taught us and demonstrated during the classes. You put it in layman’s term and everybody was able to understand it easily and practice during the class and experience ourselves. What you show us about the mammalians breathing reflex was great.
After that class I consider myself a better freediver and I raised my standards about safety to a maximum level. Although I am freediving spearfishing now deeper than ever 120′+ feet I’ am very comfortable and relax due to The buddy system we learn during the classes. I’ve been practicing at home, “DRY” following your O2 / CO2 tolerance tables and stretching exercises and I am amazed of myself for the improvement I’ am achieving every single day.I can’t wait to attend the Advance Course to complete my training.
I’ll be always grateful to you for sharing your experience with me and teaching me some important secrets of the APNEA world,
Erick M Salado, M.D. Miami, Florida
Thank you, Kirk and Martin, from the bottom of my heart for teaching me how to dive safe and convincing me to actually do it. First Bahamas diving trip since the clinic, first day, my buddy blacks out on the surface after
a 120 ft dive. Rescue technique was pretty poor, but I was right in his
face when he went out and he came around just fine, I am reasonably sure that, had it occurred before the clinic, I would not have even noticed he was in trouble and certainly would not have known what to do. My friend would not be here.
Dear Kirk and Martin,
I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how impressed I was with your clinic last weekend in Miami. As I told you before the clinic, I am an infrequent freediver/spearfisherman whose experience is unfortunately limited to one or two dive trips to the Bahamas each year, and not much practice in between. The primary event that pushed me to take the course was a freediving accident that happened to a good friend of mine on a trip we took to the Bahamas in 2002, which left him comatose for 5 weeks and still in pretty bad shape today. It was evident from the course description that you guys put a lot of emhasis on the safety aspect of the sport, so it seemed to be just what I was looking for.
The course itself, and my improvement in performance, far exceeded my expectations. First, the two of you are incredibly knowledgeable about every aspect of freediving, and do a great job of conveying that knowledge to the students. Everything made sense, and I found myself saying many times, “Oh, so THAT’s why I’m feeling that.” There was just an incredible amount of useful information regarding technique, safety and physiology.
As for my improvement in performance, I had never done any static apnea attempts, other than just very short playing around in the swimming pool, so I had no idea what I might be able to do. However, from my spearfishing trips, I figured that 3 minutes would be fantastic. However, with the “breathing up” techniques you taught us, I was able to do 4 min. 45 seconds on the second day! I was amazed. And that was with no “packing” and only a few purges. I would guess that my maximum before taking the clinic would have been about half that.
As for depth, I had never gone deeper than 50 feet before, but went to 98 feet on the third day. Again, other than some difficulty clearing near the end, I was amazed at how relatively easy that was. It took some effort, but I never felt any significant stress or panic. Wow! It was a great feeling.
I’m pretty sure I have talked my spearfishing buddies into attending your next clinic in Miami, so I’ll keep an eye out for dates. Again, thank you for a great clinic. I know that the things I learned will make my diving safer, more comfortable and more fun for the rest of my life.
Sincerely, Jay Colling
I just attended a Freediving clinic in Miami over the last four days, and have to say that I was truly amazed at how much I learnt about breathing correctly, truly harnessing the power of the mammalian diving reflex, and about pre-dive preparation. We were confronted with dozens of staged rescue scenarios on the surface and at depth, and I even learnt how to manage someone’s airway correctly (thanks Kirk;-))
I would urge you all to consider attending a clinic such as this one. Kirk and Martin are very definitely DIR is every sense of the concept. Presentation was superb, the course moved ahead very smoothly, and masses of useful information was given over the four days. It’s also interesting to note that Kirk has spent quite a bit of time training Tanya Streeter.
Most of the students were able to easily get to 100 ft at the end of the course. One guy hit 130ft, I think? One guy did a static apnea of 5 min, 15 secs, and more than a couple went beyond 4 minutes. Oh, and Martin incidentally holds the static apnea and constant ballast record.
I could rant on forever but could never hope to do this course any justice. Kirk and Martin are complete pros, and are willing to travel worldwide to conduct their clinic. I can honestly say that what I have learnt has massively changed the way I dive.
Like I said, seriously look at this course. No SCUBA agency including GUE has even come close to addressing any of the issues that were taught.
I just wanted to say thanks. The training at your Miami clinic in February might have saved one of my dive buddies this weekend. I was diving with one of the most experienced freedivers I know during a tournament. We were hunting grouper on a 95′ ledge. It was late in the day and we were pretty tired so we were spotting each other very closely. A few dives in he shot a fish that holed up under a ledge. He took some time to get it out and as he started up he said that he knew he was in trouble. I could see him as he hit 50′ on the ascent and he looked OK but by 30′ his arms had dropped and he was swiveling pretty dramatically as he kicked. At 10′ I could see his lips were purple and his eyes were wide open and searching frantically, as soon as he hit the surface he samba’d hard. I couldn’t tell if he was out completely or not but I protected his airway until he knew what was going on. Because of the clinic I knew the impending signs of SWB, and I knew what to do when it happened. I just thought I would share that with you as a reminder of the impact of your clinics. I hope to make it back for the Performance level clinic soon. I am graduating soon, so maybe in the Fall?
Thanks again for everything,
Hi Kirk and crew,
I just wanted to drop you a letter of thanks, the clinic you held in Malibu, it was without a doubt, the most informative and refreshing course I have ever been involved in. All of your instructors were both knowledgeable, and helpful. Due to your training I was able to increase my static time by 100%, “I never thought that would be possible”. Since the clinic I have been training with other students from the clinic, and have been able to double my depth, to date. I have recommended your clinic to other divers I know, if nothing else, to alert them of the real safety aspect of our sport, that was taught so well at the clinic. I can say I’m looking forward to advancing to the next level of performance.
I wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I enjoyed, and benefited from, the Advanced Freediver clinic in Malibu last week. I signed up knowing that I would probably be toward the lower end of the spectrum in terms of my depth and breath-hold time; I didn’t expect dramatic improvements in either, but mostly wanted to tune up my techniques and procedures.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise when I nearly doubled my previous depth record, and increased my breath-hold by 50 percent. I also felt as though I came away with a strong set of exercises to let me keep on improving. It seemed to me that the clinic was able to help divers over a wide spectrum of ability depending on their specific needs. As a recreational freediver-photographer I’d highly recommend it to others even if they are not into competitive diving or more challenging types of hunting.
Hope your Miami clinic goes well next weekend, and good luck to you and your team in Cyprus.
I just got back from the clinic in North Miami today and highly recommend it. It was the best value in instruction I have ever encountered anywhere.
My personal best extended from 61 feet to 102 feet. On day four, in 3 to 4 ft. seas, we could only make one dive and I went 18 feet deeper than I had ever been before and easier than many other dives I have made.
There is no way that could have happened without the help provided by the Performance Freediving staff. The level of instruction, control and safety was impeccable. Kirk, Martin, Tony, and Paul were approachable and open with their experience and knowlege during the clinic and at dinners and lunches as well. Both the quantity and quality of information was outstanding. Use of the training information will continue to extend my range and safety even more. It was nothing but good. It made me feel like a kid on his birthday having all his desires fulfilled with the best in quality of everything, only better.
I saw my self on the photo of the week and I must say I was surprised,reading what they said that the fish were in 100+ feet makes me have to thank you again for your course.It was 10 days before this photo that I did your course and could have never done that amount of deep dives in such a safe manner. Although I didn’t punch 110 feet in your course that’s not what I took it for. I took it so I can make dives like this for three days strait with confidence,but when the underwater media swims up to me in a deep water tournament again I might have the winning fish.
Thank you Kirk.
I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you about a most amazing dive I had yesterday. Aaron Parker and I went to Carmel on a clear, cloudless morning with near-still waters and knew a good diving day was in store for us.
We dove at the edge of the kelp forest, where I travelled about at my neutral point (33′) through straight-standing kelp, which gave me a weightless sensation like floating through a redwood forest. With water visibility being ~30′, I couldn’t see the surface or the bottom clearly, so I would lose myself in the pure water world.
There were harbor seals around. Some were skittish; some friendly. There was one that came to look us over, more curious than afraid. So on this dive I inserted myself into the water, gently undulated down through an aggregate of feeding fish, careful not to disturb them too much. I spotted my seal at 30′, who followed me down then raced ahead to the bottom. It settled on the sand and looked up. We locked eyes as I stopped kicking and glided to one side to avoid a head-on collision. I came to rest ahead of it. My computer said 53′.
I rolled to one side and looked back. The seal was sitting 6 inches away from my knees. Its eyes darted at me, upward, to the kelp forest, at me again. I propped up on my elbow and time seemed to slow, my movements became glacial. On land, it would have been like lying down next to a deer at the edge of the tall forest, with sunbeams breaking through the leaves. The seal showed no fear, and we kept each other company for what seemed an eternity (my computer would later say 15 seconds.)
Then the thought came: Sorry kiddo, I got to breathe. I gently pushed off with my hands and undulated upward. We kept looking at each other, me somewhat sadly. Then I gained momentum, looked up at Aaron coming down to see what’s up. I pointed down excitedly and continued upward. The seal was still resting on the same spot in the sand.
I broke the surface and took a breath. It was an easy dive. No urge, no contractions. The dive reflex was on full. As I broke the surface, memories of previous clinic came to mind. It was only months ago that I struggled to get to 50′, struggling to clear my ears, every foot and second a battle. And now I made repeated dives to 50′ and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
I just want to thank you and the PFD team for working with me and giving me this: the ability to share a moment with a wild friend of the planet in a magical setting. I feel like an infant learning to stand up and walk and there’s a whole world ahead of me.
Kirk and Brett,Thank you very much for a great clinic and a wonderful 4 days of freediving. I cannot thank you folks enough for helping me to go the deepest I ever been at 76 feet and for all the instruction. I now know what it feels like to get deeper and am more confident and will apply what I have learned to spearfishing. You guys are awesome and if I could be 1/10 as smooth as you two,it would be great.The clinic was very informative and eye opening and now I know what I need to work on to get better. I definitely will be back once I can get to 33 meters comfortably.I will keep you informed of my catches and personal performance. Thanks again and stay in touch.
Dive safe and God Bless.
Dear Brett and Kirk,
The Kona clinic of January 2001 was really a great experience. You and Kirk do a great job. You’ve got it wired and I can see that you’ve built it so it is self-improving and will keep getting better and better.
The instruction was great ( I have a very short attentention span but I was riveted), the facilities great even with the little logistical snafu ,and the dive site …well, what can one say? The other students were a great group, too. You’re attracting the right kind of folks.
Hope all is well with you. Again, I had a great, great time in Kona. My wife did, too, which was a new thing. She commented many times on how much she liked everybody she met – ” Not like those windsurfing ass-holes !” she said. She and Raquel really seemed to hit it off. That’s nice, too.
Dear Kirk and Brett:
Thank you so much for the wonderful experience you guys made possible for me.
The clinic was outstanding. It was exciting, interesting, informative, educational, satisfying and enticing. Now that I have some more tools and methods I want to go out and practice. I was swimming my laps yesterday morning for my triathlon training and all I wanted to do was swim laps underwater. I made myself complete my workout before I could do any underwater workouts!
I know Karol is eager to get out in the sea and swimming pool to practice as soon as he gets rid of his cold. I have a feeling he will be a regular at your clinics, maybe he will be the next “director.”
As I started my own company and grew it into quite a business I can understand and appreciate a lot of the growing pains that you two are going through. It use to bother me that there were many other decorative painters I knew who were doing inferior work but they were getting paid at least double what I was getting paid, if not more. The, when I stopped worrying about the money, accepted that I was very good at what I did and made demands from my clients, I was amazed that they would willingly accept my terms and pay me what I had asked. It sure made my life a lot easier and less stressful. You guys are the best, and deserve to be paid more. When I took painting seminars they all averaged to about $1,000.00 a week (five days) and of course they were known by some in the field but they were not the best in the field. I realize, free diving has a limited market but Brett is the world record holder, and there are many who are very hungry for the information you two are willing to share.
Hope Cayman was a success.
The class was really wonderful. You and Brett were a pleasure. I will recommend your services to anyone who will listen. I will catch up with you at another class for certain. Please thank Brett for me as I do not have his email address.
btw Did Martin acheive the 8 Min Static?
Thomas McSherry, RE/MAX Coast & Country
I hope all is well with you and Brett. My diving has improved considerably since taking your clinic. Probably the two greatest benefits are my ability to quickly reach 50-60ft with no warm-up and my bottom time and relaxation at those depths.
Thanks for all the e mails.Thank you and Bret for making yourselves so available to us all. Im sure i speak for all of us when i say you guys were truly an inspiration for and to us all.It was for me a great honor to have spent some time with you both. I am practising up here at 6,000ft .I am holding my breath for around three and a half ,do you know if at sea level that would be around four minuits or does it not make much diference?..
Also i would love to aquire one of those nose clips, do you know there ordering info. I would love to dive with you guys again some time. Some day i might buy a sail boat if i do you are welcome to come relax and train on it. Hope you guys are doing well.
Brett LeMaster set a new world freediving record. Finning down and back up under his own power (no sleds, no dropped weights), he hit 266 feet/81 meters. Since then, he’s been in training for three new record events. Additionally, Brett and freediving coach Kirk Krack have been holding four-day freediving clinics at various locations around the world. When I was invited to participate in their first clinic in northern California, I went for it.
So, October 21 & 22 found me in San Jose doing a combination of pool work and classroom sessions. In the classroom, they walked us through background stuff concerning the mammalian diving reflex as well as their suggested exercises in how to breath up effectively. Some of the information/techniques I knew going into the clinic while others were totally new. Indeed, a lot of nagging questions from personal experience were answered in those classroom sessions; things like: Why am I more comfortable when diving below 20′ than at 10′ or 12′? Or why are the tips of my fingers tingling? The interesting part of the class work was how the pieces of the puzzle came together to make a coherent whole. An understanding of that whole proved useful later during our ocean work.
The San Jose pools sessions included rescue techniques (as in, what to do when your buddy passes out from holding their breath too long), surface dive techniques (an improvement on the one-leg pike dive commonly seen on the north coast), static apnea (how long can you hold your breath at the surface), and dynamic apnea (underwater lap swimming). For what it’s worth, virtually everyone achieved 3 minute static breathhold times, many hit better than 4 minutes at least once, and one guy (Scott Campbell) held his breath for 6 minutes and 39 seconds (of course, Scott was a ringer; he holds the U.S. record for static apnea at 6:30). All in all, the results were pretty impressive considering that we only worked at these exercises for a few hours over two days. The clinic handout materials include a two week training schedule for static apnea with an offer to provide extended schedules on request. Based on the results of a couple of hours of work, I’m definitely curious about the improvements that could be gained from a few week’s training.
Following on the two day San Jose session, we moved to Monterey for a day and a half off the Cypress Sea. Conditions were best off Pebble Beach, Carmel (little swell, 25′ vis, 56F) so that’s where we spent the better part of October 23 & 24. The ocean work was definitely the most fun.
With weighted lines attached to surface floats, we worked on techniques that stimulate the mammalian diving reflex (free immersion and negative pressure immersion) followed by work to increase our maximum depth/bottom times.
Day one ended with a variable ballast drop where, instead of wearing a weight belt, you hang onto a heavy set of weights tied onto one end of a long line. After breathing up at the boat’s swim step, you roll into the water and let the weights pull you down. When all of the line has played out, you’ve completed an effortless drop and the first half of the ride. Let go of the weights, give a slight kick up, and your suit’s buoyancy continuously accelerates you through the water column. By the time you hit the surface, you’re moving fast enough to come a third of the way out of the water. A couple of divers went for height and you could almost read the brand of their fins. For day one’s variable ballast drop, the line was limited to 95′; for day two, it would be extended to 150′. Yee ha!!! A lot of fun, indeed, the variable ballast drop was useful in getting experience with the pressures at new depths and the work required to clear way down there.
The final ocean session was divided into two parts (warm up and target dives) to be followed by a variable ballast drop. The warm up part was a shortened version of the first day’s ocean work. It was followed by discussions between each participant, Brett, and Kirk. The point of those individual discussions was for each person to declare what target depth they wanted to go for. It was limited to no more than 15′ beyond the maximum depth we’d been achieving in the ocean. Once everyone had declared their target depths, we got back into the water and each got our one shot in sequence starting with whoever declared the deepest target. While we were on the boat between the warm ups and target dives, the ocean conditions kicked up a few notches (from calm to downright sloppy) just to make things more interesting.
So how did I do? Not as well as I’d hoped. My target depth was 100′. Based all the diving of the previous two days, I knew I had more than enough gas to hit that target. The only problem I’d been having was clearing past 85′. That problem had to do with finding enough air to equalize fast enough to prevent one or both Eustachian tubes from slamming shut (ear clearing has long been the bane of my diving). While I’m fairly sure I could sort things out with more practice, I was unable to break the 85′ barrier in the six or so dives to that depth over the day and a half. Still, 85′ is 10′ to 20′ deeper than a personal best set under much friendlier diving conditions (day three of a freediving trip in much warmer, clearer waters).
What else was gained? In addition to increasing my maximum depth, the clinic also reset my comfortable working depth in cold, murky waters from 30′ to something in the 55′ to 65′ range. I was frankly amazed at how easy and relaxing it was to drop and hang out at 60′. And, potentially most valuable to me, instead of needing 45 minutes to warm up and really get comfortable getting to depth as has been typical in the past, I can now make that transition in 5 or 10 minutes, no sweat. Too cool.
How did others do? Bob Bachman got lost on the way down during his target dive, went past his 100′ target, stopped for directions from the safety diver at 109′ and, finally, found his way back to the surface. If he’d followed the rope straight down and straight up, gosh, who knows. Of the other participants, I’d estimate something like half hit depths between 90′ and 100′. Not too bad considering that many in the class were relative newbies to freediving.
Finally, it’s worth noting that both Brett and Kirk were outstanding. Kirk has the physics, physiology, and psychology this freediving stuff down cold and his presentation is well honed. Brett, who seems to spend the majority of his waking moments seeking that place between sleepy dopiness and out-of-body detachment (no offense intended), was still very accessible and always quick to light up and energetically add his insights, suggestions and encouragement. During the in-water work (pool and ocean), they were very safety conscious up to the point of having a safety diver down as well as meeting each of us at 60′ during the target dives. And, it turns out they’re both really nice guys and very easy to be around.
Getting back to day two in the ocean, the warm ups and target dives ran us over the available time by an hour and a half. As a result, we had to skip the variable ballast drops. Therein lies the extent of my disappointment in the clinic.
The clinic wasn’t cheap and, indeed, that was an initial hesitation for me. Costs ran $450 for the clinic plus $157.50 for two days on the boat. Add in gas, accommodations and dinners with a bunch of hungry divers and you’re pushing $1000 total. Definitely not cheap. OTOH, the lessons from the clinic, the experience gained, and the people we met will all be remembered long after the money is forgotten. In hindsight, I’d definitely say it was worth the price and then some. If I were to do it again (very possible), I’d probably kick in the air fare to get me over to Kona for a clinic.
I would like to thank you for the wonderful clinic that you put on. In my business I see a lot of presentations, and deal with a lot of instructors, and I must say that both of you are first rate. You communicate your knowledge of, and love for, the sport eloquently to the students.
The class was a very valuable learning experience for me. The sections about safety, and breathing, were the most important for me. I went to the class wanting to better my technique, and get over my fear, and I accomplished both. I was also able to increase my depth (by 10 feet) and my static breathhold (by 30 seconds) all during the class time so it proves your techniques do work.
I am going to be putting up a website called freedivehawaii.com just to post information about both spearfishing and freediving. I was wondering if I could post some of the information you send out as well as pictures, and links to your site.
If you ever need anything when you come to Oahu, or need a place to stay on the East side of the Big Island, or help with anything computer related. please let me know.
Both of you are great. It was an honor, and a priviledge, to be in your clinic. Good luck in the future.
P.S. Your class is too cheap for the amount of time you spend with the students each day, and considering you guys are at the top of your field.
Also where did you say we could buy those ear plugs?
Just wanted to take a moment to thank you once again for a great four days of diving. I learned a lot about freediving, but also a little more about myself. I have no doubt that you and Brett will have continued success with establishing new limits in the freediving world (and pushing them) and with the clinics. You certainly have this stuff diagnosed and you have the right personality to be an extremely effective teacher for people of all skill levels. Thanks again, good luck, and take care!
Michael Mauntler Distance Learning Science Teacher Mote Marine Laboratory
Dear Kirk and Brett,
I wanted to thank you guys for a great time. The volume of information I learned was overwhelming. Diving aside, the classroom sessions alone made the clinic worthwhile. Although I was familiar with some of the ideas and techniques presented in the clinic, you guys broke everything down with detailed explanation, satisfying my doubts and increasing my confidence.
The group was great. So much diversity. I felt privileged to be in the same room with such great talent. Even though I was one of the “newbies” of the class, I felt unpressured and greatly encouraged.
Hope to attend another clinic!
I got pictures of the group on the last day of class. I probably won’t finish the roll of film til the tryouts. I’ll send you prints then or I can scan them and email them to you. Whatever would be the easiest for you.
I had an awesome time at the clinic, it was great meeting everyone and being there when someone would break a personal record. It was awesome. As for myself, it was the second time I took the clinic and well worth it! My breathing has improved a bunch. I also picked up some excellent techniques for dynamic apnea and constant ballast. This evening I worked on dynamic apnea at the pool for the first time since the clinic and finally increased from 100 yards to 112 yards. It seemed easy and I am stoked.
I really appreciate both you and Bretts efforts and extraordinary amount of time during the clinic to share your experience and knowledge on freediving with all of us. I am also grateful for the time ya’ll spend to help me with training questions over the email. I would have never made these improvements without ya’lls help.
Thanks a whole bunch and see yall at the tryouts and hopefully in Spain.