SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS - 

DIARY OF A WEEK OF SPECIALIST WATERMANSHIP TRAINING

 Image courtesy of  Lucas Handley

Image courtesy of Lucas Handley

 

The Margaret River Team:

As we turned at the shallow breaking reef to do another lap of the CO2 training drill in the Margaret River lagoon, i looked over at the lads and they looked calm and in the zone. The weeks of training had served them well, thats why i had decided to up the pace a little bit for this session. I also knew that in two days time they would be depth training for the first time this season and they would need a confidence boost. The crew finished the session in classic South Coast WA style, already talking about the ocean adventures they are going to have with these new skills they are working hard to attain.

After the weeks of unpredictable wind patterns due to a cyclone up north, the weather gods were smiling down on us again with a complete glass off for the afternoons depth awareness session out at the HMAS Swan off the coast of Dunsburough, WA. I was very excited as i was going to see how much progress the lads had made as a result of their training and also because my great mate Lucas was coming to train with us on his way to Indonesia.

As we motored out to the dive site, the atmosphere was extremely cheerful and everyone was very excited, as i looked around the team it was cool to identify the personal goals of each individual, what training they had done leading up to this point and the strong bond they already had with each other knowing that they were all on the same path.

As i swam across the aqua blue water from the dive boat to the wreck the sea was alive with activity. Schools of fish swam up to us to fulfil their curiosity, Bat Fish gently swam around the mooring lines, reef fish darted in and out of the crows nest defending their territory from pesky neibours and the 5 teams of freedivers were starting to warm up by exploring the upper structure of the immense ship.

 Image Courtesy of  Lucas Handley

Image Courtesy of Lucas Handley

Lucas was the first to brush off the cobwebs, after a few perfectly executed warm up drills he was down to the sand collecting some shells for the lads as evidence of his adventure into the deep.

Then it was Russ executing a classic ORD DAFINS 25m special, making it look as easy as making a coffee in the morning! 

Next came Talina, the beautiful Mexican exploring the inner most expanse of the wreck and even stopping for a rest in the captains chair on the way out. 

 Talina Tapia ascending from a Free Immersion Dive

Talina Tapia ascending from a Free Immersion Dive

Tom was up now, performing a great 10m hang, taking in the surroundings and gliding up to the surface with perfect aquaticity.

Then it was Simons turn, the full time surfer turned freediving frother has been training harder than anyone in Margaret River, and as i saw him descending down into the blue i shouted, “Simons going for it!” He had been passively aiming for this 20m dive for the last year steadily moving through all elements required to achieve this first milestone that every freediver goes through. He looked perfect, the best i’d ever seem him look. With Lucas safetying him he was in the best hands. Simon was so relaxed he even stopped on the ascent to shake out the little remaining tension in his neck, then he hit the surface with a smile from ear to ear. After completing his surface protocol he was indulging in well earned humble self achievement, everyone was so stoked for him!

The team motored back to shore laughing, congratulating each other and re enacting their favourite moments of the session, the atmosphere was electric. I thought to myself, this is what what freediving is about and i love it!

 Lucas doing what he does best... capturing outstanding underwater images on a single breath.

Lucas doing what he does best... capturing outstanding underwater images on a single breath.

 

Creating more Ocean Addicts:

 Specialist Watermanship Student Steve White turning for the surface after a flawless descent.

Specialist Watermanship Student Steve White turning for the surface after a flawless descent.

As soon as i met the 4 students for the weekends Specialist Program I new it was going to be a cracking course. The lads were already making a fair bit of banter and i like that, it lightens up the mood and makes everyone relaxed.

On the program we had Jos, Ryan, Jamie and Andrew. All experienced watermen in there own way and they all were super keen to get into it.

I could write a ten thousand word paper on just one Specialist Program… and would still not have discussed all that happens; but lucky for you guys i’m not! I’ll skip to the highlights!

Day 1: I had a sore stomach from laughing at Jos and Ryans sense of humour. Meanwhile… the crew assisted by Mr Lucas Handley’s unusually large brain explored the innermost workings of the dive reflex. After a session of static apnea, some underwater sleep therapy and a few lazy 3min statics we are done! Day 1 review; EPIC!

Day 2: The team always seems a bit daunted by Saturdays routine, so best not give them enough time to dwell on the inevitable I say. With a 0600 start and straight into laughing fits courtesy of Mr Jos, the lads were into it! The best way to learn is by getting thrown in the thick of it, to much death by power point these days and not enough action!

Rescue drills were just hilarious with the guys quickly finding out that their mates are bloody heavy! Half way through the first session the team realised how epic proper breathing was and it was all smiles from there. The last drill of the ocean session resulted in a monkey cull as the lads took control of their minds during breath hold for good… well until the monkeys of the mind repopulate themselves! 

 HMAS Swan Regulars

HMAS Swan Regulars

Day 3: This is my favourite part of the program. This is because the majority of students One Ocean gets are surfers, and surfers generally play in the first 2m of the ocean surface… so to the average surfer 10m is super deep, well until Sunday at around 1030, then its, “easy as!”.

Again my stomach was sore as I saw Jos hold up a well earned catch of Crayfish and giving the team a series of high fives! 

Then we were at the wreck, blue as blue and a complete glass off! Again! The lads were feeling a bit nervous at the thought of descending down to 20m… well, until around 1600 then it was, “still deep, but easy and so good!”

Sunday night; seriously sore quads from swimming for 5 days straight, deaf from water logged ears, radiation burns from the hole in the ozone layer above South WA, blood sugar levels in the negative and a smile that took up my whole face! 

The End!

Thanks everyone for the best 5 days of training i have ever had! Legends!!!!! 

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