Freedive training doesn’t always come easy and I’ve found that moreso in my new locale of Sonoma County than any area before. In Fort Lauderdale I used to drive 10 minutes to the pool, which always had an open lane (that I took for granted!). In Sonoma I drive nearly an hour to get to a pool and have to do everything but throw elbows for space. In Fort Lauderdale the weather was usually 80 degrees and sunny when I went to the pool. In Sonoma it’s usually overcast and chilly. In Fort Lauderdale I could dive in 80-something degree water when I wanted to hit the ocean. In Sonoma…well it’s a bit colder than that.
Now don’t get me wrong, Northern CA is absolutely beautiful and I wouldn’t move away for anything, but diving here does require a certain level of determination.
So I’ve tried to take my own words to heart and prove to myself that freediving, and more importantly freedive training, is available everywhere with a bit of effort. So here’s a few tips for squeezing in freedive training inspired by the ways I’m learning to overcome my freediving hurdles out west.
1. Plan ahead.
I’ve tried my best to figure out the slowest times at the pool and head there during that window. Surprisingly it’s not at 6am, which I found out the hard way. I also plan more dive trips with good friends that are willing to hop in the cold waters with me!
2. Don’t be picky- make the best of a less-than-perfect situation.
Take what you can get. If the only time you can get to the pool is early in the morning when it’s typically overcast, cold and raining, do it anyway. Don’t miss an opportunity to train just because it’s less-than-perfect. Last year my training partner and I used to do static apnea in a pool where infants were going through water survival programs. We used to joke that we’d get so used to screaming babies during training that we wouldn’t be able to perform in Cayman without it.
3. When your in-water training plan is foiled, go dry.
This morning I woke up at 5am to head to a pool an hour away that ended up being too packed to dive. What did I do? Drove the hour home and did a dry breath-hold table. Not my favorite training, but training none-the-less.
I love training in Grand Cayman where the water is always 86 degrees, but where I live the water is 52 degrees if I’m lucky so I don my 7mm suit and do what I can. I accept that my performances won’t be as good or comfortable as they are in warm water and trust that I’m improving. Last Sunday I trained in Lake Sonoma with three buddies and had an amazing day, even if I did freeze my butt off for an hour.
5. Be thankful for the luck you do have.
I might not have the perfect training situation, but at least I’ve got some great dive buddies here. My training partner from last year is stranded in warm, sunny Florida with amazing pools minutes away with no one to train with. Sorry, Grant!
I guess the moral of this story is that we all have hurdles, but it’s what we do in the face of those hurdles that matters. Excuses will always be there, but training opportunities may not.