Free Immersion (FIM) is one of the four depth disciplines in freediving. The particularity of FIM is that one does not use fins to descent or ascent, just the rope. French National Record holder Thibault Guignes, having been down to -117m, gives us his valuable tips on how to progress in this amazing discipline.

Stay In The Tube

"If i had one word to summarize free immersion and to help you progress in free immersion, this word would be tube. Why tube? Because while you practice free immersion you need to imagine you are in a glass tube around you and you need to stay in this tube. This way you will reduce the drag, the resistance of the water and you will get way more efficient. So if you have one thing to remember is stay in the tube".

Body Positioning

"First, from head to toe, the head needs to stay in the axis, just like for any discipline, to reduce the drag but also to have the neck and the spine relaxed. It's really important because if they are tense, the rest of the body is tense. Now, the arms need to stay in the tube as you pull on the rope, so instead of going on the side you want to go in front of you, grab the rope as high as possible and if you want to grab the rope as high as possible, you need to be very close to the line, otherwise you will have an angle and you cannot grab as high as you want. The hips, they should be slightly forward, so that you keep your legs in check, because your legs need to stay in the tube and if you stay too relaxed in the hips and in the legs they are going to bounce around and then you are going to create a lot of resistance. So, it is better to use a little bit of energy to keep your legs and your hips in check and stay in the tube.

And finally the ankles. Because in free immersion you don't get to wear fins,if your ankles are a bit too loose, they will create a lot of resistance in the water and also that might mess up a bit your free fall. So the idea is to work on your ankle flexibility on a regular basis so that you can keep your legs straight, or close to straight, without using too much energy. If you're not very flexible in the ankles, i would still suggest that you point them a little, it takes a bit of energy but you gain so much efficiency and energy during your free fall".

Gain Speed

"We have all learned to warm up in free immersion very slowly on the line, but this is not free immersion, this is warm up. In free immersion you should be able to get speed close to one meter per second. On my deep dives i'm always one meter per second or even a bit faster. How do i achieve this? The first thing is to be naturally buoyant quite shallow, like close to 10 meters. Usually we don't feel lactic acid in the arms as we come up, or if you do, just a little bit of gym, working on the triceps and the biceps will solve the issue. So since you won't be limited by the strength of your arms, you can be a bit heavy compared with the other disciplines, this way that will help you having a very relaxed and fast way down. And even if you're heavy, keep pulling in a nice way, with a lot of glide at least till 30 if not 40 meters, because free fall needs to be fast. If you're too slow, it's like on a bicycle you know, on the bicycle if you go very slow, you need to adjust the body position all the time to keep the balance. If you go fast, you can even let go of your hands and you will keep going straight; it's the same with your freefall.

Another thing in order go fast is to give rhythm on your way up, especially for from deep dives. If you wait too much, there is no real glide, because you're quite heavy at the bottom, so if you wait after the pull, you might just stop or even start going down again. So give some rhythm. I know it can feel very nice to pull very softly on the ropeĀ  but you should pull like you want to pull the buoy or the boat down. When i pull in free immersion, i feel very strong and there is not necessarily an issue with depth adaptation. If you start from the beginning doing long and strong pulls at the bottom, as you increase the depth your body will adapt. Of course, if you decide to try free immersion when you are already a deep diver and you pull too hard, maybe your body will not be ready, but as you do your progression, keep doing long and strong pulls at the bottom. That will make you gain a lot of time on your dive which is essential if you want to go real deep at one point, otherwise your dive time will be too long.

So, to summarize a little bit this free immersion advice, stay in the tube and very close to the line, keep your body in check even if that uses a bit of energy to make sure you stay in the tube, and go fast on the way down and on the way up".

Progress In CWTB With Thibault Guignes

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