Deep freediving is a sport that requires education, constant training, dedication & perseverance. Cristian Castano, Colombia's deepest man, shares his tips on achieving a safe and pleasurable deep dive.

Visualize Your Dives

Hello guys, my name is Cristian Castano and I'm a professional athlete and NR holder for Colombia. I'm also an AIDA instructor-trainer and part of the Alchemy Team. The first tip I'm gonna give you is to visualize your dives. This is a very important tool that we can use to help you to have flow on your dives and to prepare mentally and to make our body, kinda like, act on a mechanic way or automatic way, when we go for a deep dive. The important thing about this is that you are not going to forget to do certain things that you have to do, when you are deep diving, for example, when are you going to take your mouthfill, when are you gonna start your freefall? It can also help you to stop relying on alarms which is important. Sometimes alarms, we don't hear them, and they can really mess our dives. So, if we are visualizing, or if we are counting, or know how many kicks we do until we take a mouthfill, a freefall, it can help us.

And it is very important, the way that we visualize to do it in a positive way. To help you as well to relax and prepare mentally to be thinking that the dive is going to feel good and it's gonna be nice and we're going to condition our brain to actually feel good during the dive. And I will really recommend as well that when you're visualizing, don't skip the part of the surface and the protocol. Because when you put these things mechanically in your way, all the protocol, all the surface, you're going to not forget to do the recovery breaths, and maybe it's going to save yourself from a disqualification, maybe in a competition and to avoid a blackout or maybe make you come back stronger from an LMC or from any little problem that you might have at the surface. Visualization is a really good tool, I will recommend every deep diver and every diver in the world to use it, in a positive way, thinking that your dives are going to feel amazing, and not forgetting all the safety steps that you are going to have to do.


One Deep Dive

So, as I said, for deep diving, deeper than 60 meters, or what AIDA recommends is 55 meters, another safety tip is to do only one deep dive per session. This doesn't mean that you are not allowed to warm up, you're allowed to warm up, but if you're gonna go deeper than 60 just stop diving after that. If it's possible, it would be good not to do safety either, but sometimes, say, you're going with your buddy, you're gonna need to do safety, so if you're gonna have to safety your buddy, wait enough time after your deep dive, before you do safety for the person.

How long will it be? If you do 60 meters, we divide it by 5, so it should be at least 12 minutes. But I would recommend you take a little bit longer and make sure that your body is completely recovered. And if you feel completely recovered, you still need to wait, because we are not just talking about being tired, but of excess nitrogen as well. It did happen to me, when I was not aware of all these rules and all of these tips to help you with safety, I once did in one session 3 deep dives to 60 meters and I started to have decompression symptoms. So for me, it was possible to dive to 60 and I felt fine and not tired, but then nitrogen will really sneak behind your back and it can cause a big problem. So, please don't dive deeper than 60 or 55 more than once in one session. After you have a proper rest you can do a few safety dives for your buddy, but be careful not to overdo it.


It's OK To Turn Early

One more tip and something that is very important for us, when we are doing deep dives, we're going to want to push, and pass that point. It's really hard to find the point where you are not scared and keep pushing, but at the same time you need to take care of your body, and be aware that it might not be the best way to keep going down because you're getting these signals that you should stop. So my recommendation is that you should always listen to your body, and don't be afraid or feel bad if you turn early. If things are not going well if you are not feeling relaxed enough, it is not bad to turn early, it's a good decision.

It's gonna stop you from having an injury, a lung injury, a throat injury. And you don't want a squeeze, 'cause if you squeeze then you're gonna have to stay out of the water for some time. So it is a lot smarter if you decide to do an early turn and things are not going well. It doesn't mean that they have to go perfect. It would be a good thing to access the dive after, say, every 10 meters and ask this question "how do i actually feel, do I want to run because I'm scared because of what's coming, do I need to go deeper"? Think about the moment. If at that moment I'm feeling good, why should I turn? If I am not feeling well, then it's completely OK to turn and try again in the next session.


Counter Weight 

Another tip for deep diving would be regarding our own equipment. When we are going to go for a deep dive, and it's something that not many athletes do, is to use a counterweight system. It will always help you to have something that will help you to come easier and faster to the surface, in case that something happens at depth. It's not very likely that you're going to have a big problem at depth, but it has happened, and it's not good if you have to pull the person with your strength, being carried from a lanyard.

So, if it's possible, use a counterweight, and if you are not going to use a counterweight I recommend you use a double buoy so you can have the knots and the equipment safe on one but then attached to another one just in case the first one fails. If maybe you have a carabiner that breaks, if the line comes out of the knot or if you have a problem like that, you always have a second buoy that is going to help you to keep the set up in place, in a safe way for a deep dive. It's not really nice when you're doing free immersion, let's say, and you start pulling the rope and the rope doesn't work, and you'll have to swim with no fins up to the surface. It has happened to some friends and we should always try to avoid that for a deep dive. It will make the dive really dangerous if the equipment fails. 



One more tip or recommendation I will give you is regarding adaptation. For deep dives, this is a very important thing. In my opinion, there is not really much that you can do on dry to adapt and prepare for deep diving other than empty lung stretching. But when we are in the water, my recommendation would be to do a lot of FRC dives and RV dives. Once you get really good at FRC dives try to start RV dives. The reason for doing this is to just prepare your lungs for the big pressures that we're going to feel when we're doing a deep dive. Because when we go for a deep dive, normally, we can just do one, and then we have to take a few days to rest. If we do a bunch of these FRC or empty lung dives we're going to be able to adapt and repeat many times the same pressure or even bigger pressures, than the pressures that we will achieve when we go for a deep dive.

In this way, our lungs are going to be very ready for the day that we are going for an actual dive. And in case there will be some tension or some problems down there, our lungs are going to be ready for them and we might avoid having lung squeeze, even a throat injury. Personally, I did a lot of this kind of diving, spending probably one whole month doing RV dives, because we couldn't access that at the time. And then when I went for deep dives because my body was ready and mentally I felt really strong, I was able to improve my PB by about 10 meters. So in my opinion this is a really good way to prepare, to adapt, and to be able to not hurt yourself when you are going for really deep dives.


Over Training

One more thing i would like to talk about is over-training. It's something that also deep divers need to be aware of and really careful with. Sometimes, when we are doing other sports we feel that after one night's sleep, we have a lot of energy and we are able to go and keep training. But for freediving, it is a little bit different. And I think that it's mainly because of this accumulation of nitrogen that is going to really affect our bodies and performance. In my opinion, for my body capacity, once I start to pass the 80 meters, I do need to rest every other day. I only train every other day, I do a day of deep diving, the next day I rest and the next day I go for a deep dive.

I know some people, maybe when you are starting, the normal thing to do is 3 days of diving, 1 day of rest, but for really deep diving I would recommend taking a day off, and it will also help you mentally, not to be pushing every day to the maximum is going to make it a lot easier. It's going to make you, in my opinion, stay at your peak for a really long time. I have been at my peak for, let's say, even two months, going for a deep dive, really close to my PB, but every time I was resting one day in between. So that would be my recommendation to avoid overtraining and your performance can stay on top for a really long time.


Find The Right Buddy 

And the last tip I'm going to give you is the basic rule that we give to all freedivers, which is never to freedive alone. For deep diving, never dive with a buddy who is not capable and competent to do your safety. Sometimes it's really hard to find people who can actually do proper safety, and maybe you are with freedivers who are not ready freedivers themselves and you still want to do some deep dives, I would recommend not to do it. Don't put some person whose PBs is like 30 meters, to try and do safety for a 20-25 meter dive. This is also dangerous for the safety of divers. So always try to find a buddy who is a, doesn't have to always be completely at your level, but close to it or at least somebody for who safety is not an issue. Because when we are doing deep diving it's never 100% safe so you always want to have somebody who is really strong there to help you in case you need the help. That would be the last tip I give you, I hope you liked the video, see you guys around, bye.

Long Or Short Carbon Fins?
You Decide!

Share this on