Blackouts occur in freediving as well as spearfishing and they can be lethal if the diver is alone. A blackout means loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia towards the finish of a dive. It can be triggered by a few factors but can be dealt with success if safety measures are in place. In the new episode of The Complete Guide, Alchemy freedivers Thibault Guignes, Fatima Korok, Annelie Pompe & Diana Garcia Benito, share their BO experiences, explaining the circumstances under which they took place and offering advice on how to avoid one.


Thibault Guignes

I had the blackout in July 2019 in Cyprus during a competition. I was going for what is usually an easy dive for me, 100 meter free immersion, and the dive went very well, all the way, on the way down, on the way up and i was  fine during the dive. I remember  seeing the safety picking me up at 30 meters, at 20 meters, i was still fine and suddenly around 15 meters i completely lost it and i blacked out. Why this happened, it was a bit unclear at the beginning on such a dive, where everything was going well, why would i black out? We inquired and made some blood tests and many other different tests after and we  found out i had a big lack of potassium in my blood, caused by an accumulation of lack of potassium over the the six months leading to the blackout. So, actually it was a medical  condition, it was not like related to freediving, the blackout was the  consequence of this lack of potassium. So now if i had one advice, if you are going for deep dives, is to have you checked regularly on everything, just to make sure you have all  the minerals, all of all the nutrients you need for your body and that you are in perfect  health before doing like deep deep dives.



Fatima Korok

 

It happened recently, in November, during my preparation for my last depth competition in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. I was attempting an 87 meter bifins dive, it was a big performance dive and it was my first training day in Sharm El Sheikh. I thought i'm gonna be ok during my dive, although i didn't had a good rest before my attempt. Also during the dive i felt  really nice on the way down, but on the way up i did some mistakes, i changed my arm position  and i changed my kicking style. I remember my last thought before i blacked out was that i knew i'm gonna black out. The safeties  grabbed me at five meters and when we came to the surface i lost consciousness, i was out just for a few seconds, i got two recovery breaths and then i was brought back to life pretty quickly thanks to the safeties. I got two rest days and then i was back in the water and i continued my training. What happened is that i was pushing  my depth progression too quickly. When you get to a new dive site or when you have new equipment, you should step back a little bit, go shallower and then build up gradually your depth again - that was one of my mistakes. The other mistake was that i made changes during my dive, you should never change anything on big dives, so my piece of advice is plan your dive, dive your plan, be safe and enjoy your dives.



Annelie Pompe

 

So, blackouts, i have had a few and they happened  all of them during world record attempts. Due to different reasons and causes, i think one of them happened because the surface was really messy, there was big waves and i couldn't fully relax before the dive so i did have some tension while going down but still being relaxed in my mind,  i thought i could continue, and my big problems in deep dives used to be contractions at depth and if i get a contractions i could almost hear it and feel it tearing my lungs. When i had that feeling as i was swimming back up again, i  knew that this is going to be on my limits and my tips for beginners would be to mainly practice  relaxation, both on the surface and going down, because they're equally important and also, if you can, try and delay your contractions as long as possible and do not have them at the bottom of 100 meters, because it's not great for relaxation and it takes a long time for the lungs to recover. I think my lungs still aren't recovered, so i think it's a really good idea to work  from the ground and up when you build your flexibility in your lungs and your  tolerance to carbon dioxide.



Diana Garcia Benito

 

So far i have only one blackout and it was a few years  ago in Bali. I was attending a freediving competition, it was my first one and i made a  series of bad decisions plus other factors were involved that led to the blackout. First of all, i was super nervous, even  though i was at a depth i was comfortable with, plus i put  a lot of pressure on myself because i was trying to make a national record attempt.On that day the current  was striking very hard and just when i  was waiting for my turn, i saw a very good  friend of mine having  an underwater blackout and that of course made me feel a bit more stressed. Plus, during my dive i was completely out of focus, i   forgot to freefall and it was a bit of a mess.  Then when i turned, i realized i was very heavy. So the current, the stress, the nerves, the wrong weight,  made the dive super hard and then when i was reaching the surface, iblacked out. Fortunately i had the safety divers with me and everything was fine, it was just a short surface  blackout. My advice to any freediver is of course a lot of training, feel comfortable with your dive and with yourself. Be sure that  you have the correct weight and don't put extra pressure on yourselves.  Dive safe and always with a trained buddy or safety divers.


 


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