Spain’s Freediving runner-up talks about the sport and the conditions offered by the island for training all year round
It is curious to think that there is a sports discipline which requires you not to breathe, but this is the main quality of the sport of freediving. Freedivers compete either to stay as long as possible underwater in a static position, to swim the maximum possible distance underwater in a pool, or to descend as many meters as possible in the sea.
The rise in popularity of this sport, thanks to social media, means that in recent years the number of practitioners has increased dramatically. The Catalan, Aurora Garriga, Spain’s current runner-up in bi-fins and constant weight without fins, has left everything to come to live in Lanzarote to practice her sport 365 days a year.
She arrived on the island in September 2019 to participate in the Spanish Outdoor Freediving Championship and a few months later Aurora decided to move permanently to Lanzarote. She trains every day with the aim of continuing to improve her records and the island offers everything she needs to achieve this – climate, accessibility, depth and good water temperature. For this post, the freediver describes a day’s training for us.
“I had several international destinations in mind, places where you could practice freediving all year round, then the possibility of coming to the Canary Islands appeared and here I am.”
Training starts at home
Unlike other athletes, freedivers start their training day before leaving home. First thing in the morning and on an empty stomach, Spain’s runner-up does yoga exercises, then she does some breathing exercises and works on the flexibility of the diaphragm, the main breathing muscle. After this first ritual, she has breakfast and two hours later she gets into the water.
“Your mind must be calm, if your mind is stressed, nervous or even afraid, your freediving is not going to go well. You have to find something to calm your mind.”
We get into the water
As in any sport, before starting the training you have to warm up. In freediving there are exercises called “dive reflex” which are used to activate “the immersion reflex” that allows the athlete to adapt to freediving. There are three ways to awaken this reflex: by facial immersion, by pressure and by contractions.
To carry out this preparation, Aurora descends to a depth of 20 meters and performs a static apnea, for approximately 3 minutes. This is done once or twice before starting the training she has planned for that day.
“Prepare from the day before your freediving day and always have your equipment in good condition.”
How long does a training day last?
Once you have done a good warm up, the only thing left to do is to start training. Aurora tells us that you can’t do many dives in a day’s training because “when working without oxygen the muscles generate a lot of lactic acid” and that is very tiring.
She does a maximum of 10 dives per training session, but she never misses a day. She also stresses the importance of rest, but without losing “aquaticity”, a quality that is only possible to feel when you spend a lot of time in water. In the end, it’s about training a lot of skills in the dry (technique, flexibility) and bringing them together when you’re underwater – if you don’t feel at home there, it’s never going to work.
“For safety reasons you should never practice freediving alone”.
Finally, the freediver answers the big question: is this a dangerous sport? “It’s not a dangerous sport as long as it is done with the proper knowledge. On freediving training courses, instructors always focus on safety issues first. By practicing freediving according to the terms taught in the courses you will learn a safety system and a sufficiently conservative mentality.”
If you like the sea, nature and new experiences from the wonderful underwater world, freediving is your sport. Lanzarote offers the possibility to practice it all year round, so choose a date and… see you in the depths!