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Freediving Competition – How do I prepare

Freediving Competition - Yaroslava Timoskenko at one of her first competitions

Freediving Competition, what is it all about…

While freediving is an exercise in relaxation, it’s easy to psyche yourself out on the competition front. There’s rules you have to consider; you might have a case of the jitters that day; you could stumble upon some other inexplicable personal wall. What’s crucial is that you stay relaxed in spite of those things!

It’s important to remember that you are freediving for yourself and yourself only and competition is a great place to test yourself and your limits, surrounded by an encouraging and supportive community. When you put your airways below the surface and start your dive, you set out to do your best to come up clean in the end. There have been times when I’ve gone way beyond what I had done in training and come up triumphant and there have been times when I played it safe.

There have been times when I didn’t listen to myself and pushed too hard.

You do your best and, whatever happens, you should use that as a learning experience. You might surprise yourself in the best way possible.

And so, for those of you that are participating in a freediving competition for the first time, here are a few pointers for The Day from someone that’s been ‘round the competition block a few times…

RELAX – first and foremost! Take a deep breath (from your belly up) and let it out, slowly. Do it now, even.

Hours before the competition

Don’t eat anything for at least 2 hours before your dive time, but remember to stay hydrated.

I wouldn’t advise doing cardio of High Intensity Interval Training a few days before the comp, but yoga is highly recommended! Be careful not to strain yourself, though.

Figure out your warm-up and equipment set-up routines even before you get to the pool. In freediving competition, you must be in sight of the judges an hour before your dive, so use that time to lay out your equipment and warm up on deck. An excellent way to do this, is to write everything down in the order that you’re to do them – write it down to the minute, but PLEASE REMEMBER to give yourself extra time for anything incidental.

Make a plan

Making a list/timesheet is a great way to make sure you don’t forget anything you intended to do – or any equipment you might need.

You’ll thank yourself later, trust me!

For your wetsuit, I would recommend NOT putting it on too early, as you’ll likely overheat, but it’s important to give yourself enough time to tug it on with plenty of time given to relaxing afterwards. Putting on a wetsuit is a workout in and of itself and you need time to ‘cool down’.

Everybody’s warm up routine is different, so I won’t preach what’s best, but here’s an example based on what I do: I’ll start with light stretches to loosen up, and follow up with low-to-medium-intensity yoga. Then I will quite literally lie down on my yoga mat, shut my eyes and will my body to relax from the toes up. Talk yourself through each body-part – it helps.

Stay relaxed and loose for at least 20 minutes before your dive.

If music is something that helps you de-stress, plug those ears (but pay attention to your time). I would recommend the soothing sound of waves 

I make sure I am ready to be in the water – suit, facial equipment, fins (if you’re doing that) – about 5 minutes before my dive. That gives me enough time to remember anything I might have forgotten.

In the end, competition is a great way to learn something about yourself and find room for improvement. They’re also a lot of fun.

Remember to breathe – at least up until your dive time!


Written By Yaroslava Timoshenko

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Practice dive with last years AIDA 2 star students

“De-icing” after a dive in Lake Ontario. Water is at refreshing 9C, but on a positive note: NW wind flattened out lake, there is no thermocline and viz is 12 m! Photo: “De-icing” after a dive in Lake Ontario. Water is at refreshing 9C, but on a positive note: NW wind flattened out lake, there is no thermocline and viz is 12 m!

Practice Dive with AIDA 2 star

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Toronto Wreck Diving

Three of us went for a very nice dive on a wreck just outside Toronto Harbour. Information about the wreck can be found here:
The top of The Southern Trail is in 6 meters of water and the bottom is at 10 meters, so this is a great dive for everyone. The wreck is sitting just like the dive site pictures and it is possible to swim under the overhang shown on the drawing and penetrate the ship.

We had a great night with no waves, no wind and fairly warm water for Lake Ontario.

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Freedive visitors from Montreal

It was 4pm when I left the office for the first boat dive of the season, with the added bonus of Francois and Marie-Odile joining me from from Montreal. I wasn’t sure what to expect, with G20 and all the police and safety zones, but it turned out that most people had left the city, so I had the fastest drive ever.

Doug had picked up our guests at the Island airport and dropped them off at the ferry to the island marina, where we met amongst all the police officers.

The short ferry ride to the island is a nice reminder for the body to shed the busy city/work life and get ready to dive.

The boat is in the water and there is very little prep to get ready to go out. We emptied some water from the covers, loaded the bags and started the engines and were ready to go. Sorry about the thumb in the video below, which is caused by me being a new iPhone owner.


I am trying an application from my new iPhone called Motion GPS, so I can show you where we dove. It will also show the top speed of 37.7 mph for now top tuned dive boat.

Google Maps Link

At the dive location we had 58.7 meters and 22 degrees at the surface, which is nice and warm if you are wearing a wet-suit. The reason I say this is because I for the first (and last) time had forgotten the top part of my suit at home. I decided to try diving anyway and thought about Eric Fattah who had told me that they had tested diving in the winter without a suit to get the dive reflex to kick in faster. I was ok in the surface, but when I started pulling down and hit the thermocline at 7 meters I really had to try to calm down and tell myself that it was “just” cold. A few more pulls and my bald head started pounding and I felt out of breath. I had to turn and raced for the surface at 14m, which would be my deepest dive of the day. My hats of to Eric and the vancouvers boys, who must have bigger ….. than me. I think I will try a no suit dive again some day, because it always frustrats me when I can’t override my emotions and tell my brain that I will be ok.

Francois and Marie-Odile had several dives, but had never dove in waves before, so they joined me in the boat after about 30 minutes, so they wouldn’t get seasick. One of the ways to avoid motion issues when there are waves is to bring a snorkel and just lie in the surface breathing and just slowly go up and down with the waves.

We had a very nice boat ride back, because the wind had died down and the waves were almost gone.

We had a beer at the bar which always make any dive better and I am convinced it improves my breath holds.

The last image was taken on the ferry back to Toronto which sums up, why these dive trips are so nice.

I want to thank Francois and Marie-Odile for flying down from Montreal to join us here in Toronto and for going straight from the plane to the boat, you made a great night even better.