Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Window on Master Training

I can hardly believe that four weeks have passed since I arrived. The days are full and flying by, in a whirlwind of training and routine. This has been an amazing opportunity to concentrate and focus on my Freediving and I thought you might like to know what a typical day in Dahab is like for me.

Natures Alarm
The window opens on my day with the rising of the sun. I do not need an alarm clock; the nesting birds in the courtyard like to greet the morning with a cheery chorus. It generally lasts about 40 minutes, easing me into the new day. Just as the birds stop singing, the fountain wakes up; I have resisted the urge to look outside to see if the birds are playing in the fountain, hence the sudden quiet. These are as regular as any alarm clock, and a much more natural way to wake up.

Prior to going to the Centre I start with a routine of stretching, breathing exercises, table training, dry static, visualisations and a short mediation. All this before the coffee I no longer have! It has surprised me how easy it was to get into the routine and I can feel the change this routine is making in my Freediving.

Morning routine over; I pack my bag for the day and consider the option for breakfast. This is no longer a guaranteed meal. I determine what to eat based on the plan for the day; if static training just a herbal tea and some water; if depth training a couple of boiled eggs, to give me a energy base. Light food makes for more comfortable diving and I saw the result first hand when a fellow master had breakfast and then tried to dive. He will forever rethink the humble plain croissant, as an option to start the freediving day!!! My day today will be two dives at the Blue Hole, so a couple of boiled eggs and tea it is.
Blue Hole - beach front 

I arrive at Freedive Dahab for about 08:30 and pack up my kit for the day. The Masters then help to prepare the other equipment that we will need - buoys, bottom weights and warm water, for washing down after the dives. The taxi arrives and we all help to load up. The Blue Hole is a short ride away - about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how fast your driver likes to go. The road runs between the mountains and the coast; winding past a couple of out of town resorts and through the police checkpoint. The tarmac road giving way to dirt track, we wind past the camels and restaurants until we reach our destination.

The beach front is a series of restaurants and each school, or group of divers, have a favourite that makes you welcome all day. Ours is directly opposite the entrance to the Blue Hole and Ali and Mohammad make us very welcome. We claim our space in one of the downstairs bays and order the special tea - an amazing combination of warm fresh orange juice and ginger, that is just perfect for before getting in. Settled, we head upstairs for at least 30 minutes of stretching before getting in the water - often this is a bit longer as Flo guides us through new stretches and explains the benefits. He watches and corrects, giving us different options so we can develop our own routines and not get bored with repetition.

Entrance and Exit - Blue Hole
Time to get in the water!! I kit up and working with the others we take our buoy and enter the water, weaving around the divers and snorkellers. The entrance point reminds me of a busy traffic junction when the lights are out and the motorists are navigating it without any guidance; chaotic is another word!! Fins on I swim out to the surface line and we tie off and set up - diving begins. Commonly, we are in the water for the about an hour and half; alternatively taking time to dive and safety one another. Whilst breathing up you can watch the scuba divers swim underneath, the jelly fish float by (not the stinging kind) - they are a lovely purple colour, get eye to eye with a small pipefish under the buoy, or close your eyes and drift gently on the waves. Occasionally, on surfacing you find an exhausted snorkeller or two on the buoy; checking they are okay you politely ask them to let go. Session over we leave the buoy on the water and swim back in.

The break is a chance to reflect on the dives, get pointers from Flo and the other Masters on what you can improve; what went well, and off course, warm back up. It is amazing how chilly you can get in a 5mm suit - even with a water temperature of 21 degrees!!! This is also a time to re-hydrate - mint tea being my favourite. Break over, you place your food order with Ali before getting back in the water.

The second session is much like the first, We take it in turns to dive, working on the improvements discussed in the break. This session is a little shorter, about an hour and then we begin the pack up. The line has to be pulled up from depth - so I lie on the buoy and begin to pull the 25 metre line up. This is my first attempt at pull up and in the last five metres I have to fight to keep my balance!!! With my buddy we secure the bottom weight and braid the line, a team effort, before swimming in pushing the buoy.

Waiting for the dinner bell to ring!
Ali has spotted the exit and begins preparation of our drinks and food - his sense of timing is great. He quickly learns how long you take and the drink arrives as you finish getting out of your suit and are ready to sit down. Food takes a little longer, but is very welcome when it arrives; it is about 15:00 and my stomach reminds me the eggs were a world away. Amazingly my stomach does not vocalise more when in the water; but it is very much awake now. Lunch brings out the cats looking for scraps, most will try to sneak past and steal whatever they can from your plate. I am quickly saved from bother as they discover that Flo has ordered chicken - a taster option than my tomato soup!!

Fed and watered the taxi arrives and we load up. On return to the centre I wash my kit and put it away, helping to rinse the Centre buoys and ropes. The plan for the next day is agreed and I head to my hotel. Time to shower; then sit with a fruit tea filling out my log book - noting improvements in my performance, or areas to work on in subsequent days.

Day drifting into night, I head out in search of food and meet up with friends. We enjoy the food at Red Cat - tasty, nutritious and put together with Freedivers in mind. Fresh salads, vegetables and good carbohydrates help me stock up ready for another day. Many people say hello as you eat - there is a community of Freedivers in Dahab and they often ask how you day has been, listening and giving you tips to use from their experience. Fed, watered and relaxed; it is time for an early night to recoup through sleep.

The window closes on this full and rewarding day - the birds fall silent and the fountain in the courtyard shuts down as I drift off.