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Freediving World Competition Debrief - Loïc "Kosho" Vuillemin

The competition is just over and i profit that the energy to debrief is available to share some of this adventure with you.

Lucky me, i could preserve some form of training during the winter and early spring. In Fanar Beach, where i give freediving courses, i can train with some buddies, but to a limited depth only. My safety divers are students of mine, so it would be dangerous for them and for me to take unappropriated risks. But i could keep training and that allowed me to not loose to much time (and money) when the moment of going to Freediving World came.

Training in Freediving World Apea Center

To train in Freediving World is really a great opportunity. Andrea Zuccari is strict and straight and definitely likes the competition mode, Tito Zappala who leads the safety freediving is awesomely gifted in his job and never misses to positively encourage all athletes. So it is a very great place to train, even more if the competition happens there.

Training went pretty fine and despite huge lack of motivation, i could push my mind to reach my maximum depth in just a few trainings. Starting with 60m in FIM and CWTB, i went back to 85m and even a little more in a little less than 10 sessions... but i had to leave CNF aside, even if breaking the swiss national record is some kind of priority. In that precise discipline, i could reach 55m which is great but not enough to beat the record of 67m hold by Pascal Berger.

I had the very great honor to train in company of Homar Leuci, the Italian champion

Before the start of the competition

The publication of the pre-registration list made a real boom. Top athletes will be there and i started thinking i was not really gonna have a chance to match their level. Abdel, Alexey, Vitomir, Thibault, Martin... all these guys are much deeper than i am and eventually know better than i do what they are doing with freediving. But ok, even if the idea to postpone until july passed my mind, i decided to deny my lack of motivation, to treat that feeling like a perturbative illusion and jumped like all others in the competition, resolute to score some national records and put myself in the top 5 of the overall ranking with the help of all subtle energies that surround me.

What i noticed from the first day of comp is that most of the athletes that were present could leave their country for the first time since almost a year. Some needed holidays, some faced overtraining pretty fast and some found their limits sooner than expected. I decided for my part and after the intensive training to enter my zen zone and go inside that comp alone, without really feeling touched by what the others would do.... i'm anyways very used to that mindset.

First day - Constant Weight Bifins

The first dive was in CWTB. I announced 85m for a new swiss national record, 2 meters beyond my previous one. I had done that dive a few times during training and my worries were turned to the way up. It appears i could definitely improve my finning style and use more cross training... i generally become heavily lactic at around 40m before the surface. To finish the dives easily, i do 4 strokes with my arms and that makes it just fine. The dive went ok and the surface protocol was clean... well done.

Getting some speed at the beginning of a CWTB dive with my Go N Sea Bifins

Clean dives my a**...

Well, when i say the dive was clean i must confess that i usually bang my face 4 or 5 times on the rope, that i loose a lot of speed when i start freefalling because i put my fingers on my mouth and that the resulting posture drags a lot in the water … and that i usually finish my dives frenzeling my mouthfill due to the loss of constant pressure around 70m. I fin mainly with the knees and my duck dive is « fancy » since i perform some kind of melted candle posture before to start. So yes it went fine, but i keep believing that i have a lot of bad habits to surrender in order to enter what many call « the flow state ».

Deep dives profile

Usually the profile of my CWTB/CWT dives are : 28 packs, fancy duck dive and focus on widening this finning style in order to gain speed as fast as possible. I charge my cheeks already before 10m, again just after 20m and go for my final fingered mouthfill at 30m. I then keep kicking until 35m and let go of everything. My mind just says « now patience » and i freefall. I use 2 watches that i crown my head with and i set these alarm to act like a car parking detector... the closer i am from the target, to more it rings... So during a dive below 80, i use the 10 depth notifications and the 2 alarms.

When finally i reach the target, i fast grab a handfull of tags (sorry but i really don't feel at ease enough to be picky) and start the way up. I do my best to encourage myself and to not battle against my urge to breathe, the contractions and the stupid belief that i may not make it. I just fin and surrender my mind to the effort. Then the scooter arrives and i know that i'm only 30 meters away from surface... i start stroking with my arm and just stay careful to not ondulate since it could be interpretated as a dolphin kick which would result in disqualification.

I break the surface and breathe as fast and as much as i can before to almost instantaneously get my fluid mask off of and rip that noseclip out of my nose. Once i open my eyes, i look for the eye contact with the judge, try to smile and say « i am okaaay » with a swiss accent. That's how it goes...

During the comp, i chose to profit of the possibility of breathing pure oxygen ay depth (5min at 5m) in order to recover faster and not be high and exhausted all day. That was very useful but still did not really allow me to sleep properly at night.

Second day - Free Immersion

The second dive was FIM and i announced a little meter more on my previous record, targeting 86m. My legs having worked the day before, i thought it was smart to then use my arms. Even if i like the speed in CWTB and this feeling of control on the water flow with the fins, i really enjoy pulling on the roap. The way up in FIM is pretty easy for me, i go at good pace and my arms don't become lactic at all or not enough to mess with my mind.

Same protocol, same amount of packs and everything. It's just that it is tricky to start freefalling since i keep tapping my mouth with my fingers... and so there's one hand i cannot use anymore. I really need to fix that... then i bump and bump on the roap, stay patient and finally bite into my mouthfill like a hamster and distilate sequentially some air on my tongue to equalise my ears … waiting for the insistive beeping sounds to wake me up for the « turn, grab, go »

On my way up, surrounded by the safety freedivers

Third day - Constant Weight

After a day off, my legs should be back in shape and so let's go for CWT. I don't have a monofin, so i do that with my regular bifins. I can dolphin kick if a want but i noticed that even if my mind tells me around 50m of the surface to do so, my legs don't listen and continue kicking until the meeting with the scooter. At this moment, i stroke with my arms, give some last kicks ...and done.

As you can notice, i use my knees to much... not ideal if i want to get the full power out of these fins

In a way these 3 dives were easy... but that's generally what everybody says when the dive is successful. My dives are really drafty and i'm convinced i could go deeper with much less efforts and certainly even with a better speed. Again, i'll find a way to fix all my mistakes and bad habits... but so far, so good. No injuries, that is for me the most important.

Fourth day - Constant No Fins

The last day is the no fins day and i find myself being challenging Thibaut Guignes for the first place. I was really surprised to see that almost no athlete had for target to dive the 4 days in the 4 disciplines... But Thibault spotted me and decided to keep the pressure. I annonced 56m and he 52m... meaning that if we would both succeed with our dives, i would be behind him for just one point. I had to consider that... why would i push such a dive ? Behind me was placed Antonio Mogavero and calculations done, i could turn away from that dive at 35 meters and still have the second place on the overall. Don't say twice to a monk that there an easy way to take... and this definitely left me a little lazy on that last dive.

CNF is really not easy

Because i experienced some trouble with my noseclip, i was careful to put it on much before my dive so i could insure myself it won't leak air. I need to put a lot of pressure to equalise and my nose is such that even the jumbo size nose clip of mine need to be perfectly adjusted. The disadvantage of setting the noseclip way before the dive is the possibility for the mucus of nasal cavity to accumulate and it may then be pushed in the eustachian tubes, quitting all possibilities to equalise any further.

This is what happend during that dive. It went nice and relax, 9 strokes to reach freefall and as soon as i started letting go, i could feel my left ear would'nt let air enter. I wiggled my jaws and did my best to click my tubes open but without success. I then thought « shit » and remembered the B plan... turn after 35m. I so squeezed my head into my shoulders to handle the equalisation distortion and turned at 39 meters with luckily no damages to my ear. I went back easily to surface with ease, felt my tubes finally opening back with a squeeky juicy sound and performed my surface protocol before to get a yellow card and a big bunch of points of penalty. No harm at all, it was weird...

Thibault, since i early turned, decided to just reach 40m and to do the same... let go of the pressure and just come back fresh to surface to get a yellow card.

Well done, Thibault wins the overall, i'm second and Antonio takes the 3rd place.

So what was special for me in that competition ?

I impressed myself with the huge amount of stretching, meditation and breathing exercices i did thoughout the days. Maybe 6 hours alltogether. Every day. As always, i go empty stomach and just eat raw ginger, drink plenty of water and rush for munchies after the dive, run for a capucino and smoke one or two cigarettes... which makes a hell of a diet. I take loads of vitamins and soon i'll talk to you about these tibetan food supplements i'm taking that seem to be really great stuff. I still drink a coffee on the morning... For overpassing my lack of motivation, there's no secret... i left my thoughts pass and kept kicking my butt.

So yeah, in a way competitions are not this different from intensive meditation retreats. We doubt and don't feel like it beforehand and then we simply jump in it trying to do our best and safest and after it, one feels happy, tired and normal. Facing futility is a tough moment and one needs to accept that no achievement is really different than to build a hay hut in the woods.

This is it, good start of the season... i hope it shows that i'm serious with my year projects and that hopefully i'll be able to walk my talk.

Thank you to all those who support me in these adventures, mostly:

Lanyards and noseclips

Awaken the Illuminated Heart Workshop, Ascension Catalyst Hira Hosen

Freediving Nature Oriented Club in Switzerland

Meditation pillows and equipment

Freediving gears

Yoga and wellness center in Romandie

Zen Dojo of Geneva

Freediving equipment

Craniosacral therapy in Switzerland

Tibetan plant based medicine

Suahuatica photography

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