Today’s episode is an interview with the Author of Longer and Deeper, a cross training guide for freediving and spearfishing. Dr. Jaap Verbaas is a crash test dummy of the highest calibre. I geek out way too much and we talk about hypoxic squats, essential tools and mindset for improving your freediving performance and even diets that can help.
Standout highlights (for me) are Jaap’s experimental mindset and his demonstration of how to plan, measure, experiment and learn from each experiment. If you are engaged in any form of freediving training then you will find plenty of value in this interview and the Longer and Deeper book.
I read the book and really enjoyed it – all of it. I think a huge part of why its such a good book is your Experimental Mindset: Where did you acquire this habit? Are you a Tim Ferris fan? (I noticed the slow carb diet and lots of your methodology is similar)
How did you adopt this theorize, plan, measure, adapt methodology?
Is this a skill or orientation that all of us should adopt?
Muscle mass: when does it become counter-productive for freediving
Hacks for improving freediving performance
Blood quality and cardio: exploring the relationship
Myoglobin: the oxygen holding cells in your muscles. Theories about training to increase it
Hypoxic Squats: desaturating the oxygen in your muscles. Measuring the change
Spleenic contraction? Can you see it on an oxygen saturation graph when your body is steadily depleting?
40:10 Perfect Dive/Shit Dive comparison – great concept (this is awesome for looking at the separate metabolic phases of a dive that you can specifically target when training)
Can you walk me through a good spearfishing dive right now? I’m hunting reef fish in 18m/60ft and to get the fish curious enough I need to hold some bottom time. (I’d love to get into the dive phase concept – are there 4 phases in a spearfishing dive?)
Ok now the converse…what does a shit dive look like?
The physiological demands on the diver at each stage and how symptoms can point to what you may need to target in your own training regimen
My copy of Longer and Deeper is covered in highlighter and notes!
“The goal of training is to adapt the body to specific conditions. In freediving, the goal is to adapt the body to underwater conditions. These conditions include;
Increased Carbon Dioxide
Specific training is possible for all 3 of these conditions” Dr. Jaap Verbaas
47:00 Can we talk about training for each of these conditions specifically for spearfishing?
CO2 Tables training can be great for spearos suffering early onset contractions
Mid-Distance Sprints for reducing lactate and leg soreness on the surface
Blood – improving quality. Cardio training boosts blood volume and is proven to improve the quality.
Swimming training is good for CO2 tolerance as well as cardiovascular training
*further detailed breakdowns and training plans are specifically laid out in Part 3 of the Longer and Deeper book
Stretching (what about for 37 year old weapons?)
Animal Walks? The crab walk – I can’t do it.
Hypoxic Squats. How and why (this seems to be the biggest needle mover – why?)
Blood quality – Cardio – freedivers (top level can be anti)
Yoga and breathing
62:20 DIET: Myth Busting (are you rehearsing for the show)?
In 2011 Jaap moved to Perth after his MSc in the Netherlands. Unfortunately he did not dive there until 5 years later. In 2012 he made the move to Vancouver to start PhD. He earned his PhD from Simon Fraser University (2017) in geology. Thesis paper here: Worked on the 1600 million year old connection between Australia and Canada.
In 2013 Jaap started freediving in Vancouver, Canada. “Shortly after I find myself living in my van for about 8 months, through winter. My freediving buddies were kind enough to help me dry my gear after dives.”
In 2015 Jaap founded Freedive Wire – now one of the most comprehensive and influential freediving sites on the internet. “I took a leave of absence from my PhD and founded Freedive Wire as a community site in late 2015. During this time, me and my GF, (now wife) were in Kuala Lumpur for 3 months. In the original website divers could sign up, post dive sites and so forth. A few months later I realized people were more interested in my articles than in the dive sites etc., even though I expected the dive sites and social aspect would be the most exciting. I started writing more and doing more research.”
In 2017 Jaap started experimenting training with diet, pure O2, oximetry and NIRS. He soon realized that most of the land-based exercises he was taught were only good for CO2 tolerance, not hypoxic training. After a hell of a lot of experimentatin and research he finally published Longer and Deeper.
Interview with Sam Blount from Frontline Freediving
Sam Blount from Frontline freediving in Wilmington, North Carolina joins us to share some very practical information for all spearos. Specifically we take a look at the 4 most serious types of injuries and accidents that can happen to spearos and then we scenario plan exactly how Sam would deal with each of these events. He’s a former marine and has designed a trauma kit specifically for spearfishing so this episode covers a tonne of first responder information. As well as first aid we learn a whole lot about African Pompano and Hogfish as well as practical info for getting serious about underwater photography. On a personal level, this episode made me think about how I would respond in some tough situations and also fired me up to hunt AP’s. Let us know what you think in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook here.
What are the three major injuries that can happen spearfishing?
What is the treatment/process for each spearfishing related accident?
What equipment to you need? What gear do you have in the Frontline First Aid Trauma/Response Kit?
What to do in the event of shark bites, massive trauma (boat prop damage etc), burns, broken bones, puncture and stab wounds.
How do you get an injured diver onto a boat?
In the event of an unconscious diver get them to the surface, protect their airway, on the surface get their mask of their face and blow, tap, touch and check response, listen to the episode for more information from Sam
After a blackout or samba the spearfisher should stop diving for the day and be under observation
77:00 What is one of the funniest moments you’ve had out spearfishing?
101 Dry Training for Spearfishing + Cris Dillon Spearjunkies Update
This epiode is a bit different. The first 30 minutes are all about improving your breath-hold using dry training. The second half of the show is a Cris Dillon Spearjunkies Update. These guys are travelling the world seeking 12 species that many of us can only dream about encountering. If you have trouble getting in the water at least a few times a week, then you will take some practical information out of the dry training section to improve your breath-hold. We can all do with more stoke factor and Cris from the Spearjunkies crew never fails to deliver with his stories, this time from adventures in Madagascar and Panama. Listen in!
Wayne is an absolute gun at coaching spearos to improve their spearfishing. This episode has some excellent takeaways for guys wanting to improve their breath-hold, finning technique and become more effective in the water. He achieves these results by getting people into regular pool training using targeted exercises in a 12 week program. This episode we also dig into hunting Dogtooth Tuna. Despite Wayne being self-deprecating with regards to his hunting ability, we get a tonne of actionable intel from him in order to hunt Dogtooth Tuna successfully. Do not miss this episode – subscribe to the Noob Spearo Podcast via the links below. Listen in for some Wayne Judge spearfishing training tips!
Looking out for the Boat Owner | Spearfishing on Boats
This is a primer on boating basics for spearo’s. If you want to have a good time out spearfishing on other peoples boats then there are a few tips here about how to be a great guest and maybe even get invited back next time!
Meeting the Boat Owner | Learning your way around the boat
Often I’ve met a boat owner at the ramp very early in the morning. You need to learn a few things to be safe and know what to do in case of emergency and even deal with common situations that occur out on the water. Ideally the boat owner will give you an induction on the ways of her boat. If she doesn’t, here are a few things to ask;
Where are the bungs?
How do you launch and retrieve the vessel at the ramp and what do you want me to do?
Where do you want my gear stowed and do you have room for a bag or a tub?
When should I get in the boat?
How do I start your boat, and where is the bilge pump switch?
Where are the life jackets stored?
Where is the radio, flares, first aid kits?
At the end of the day ask the following – “How much do I owe you for petrol, oil, wear and tear on your car and boat and trailer? Are you sure that’s enough? It costs cash not fresh air to have taken me out today.” REMEMBER TO PAY THE BOAT OWNER ON THE DAY, don’t let him chase you. You may not be asked back again.
Boat License | Marine Radio Use | First Aid
I didn’t grow up on boats and despite spending a hell of a lot time on the water, I knew bugger all about boats when I started spearfishing. One of the best things I did was get a boat license – I learned a shitload and nearly all of it was useful. I also bought an older boating book that Turbo takes the mickey out of me for, but it has given me a few more clues about boats (many of the blokes you go out with seem to be salty seadogs who have spent their lives on boats so it pays to catch up a bit if you can).
Don’t take the kitchen sink with you, space is a premium – be tidy!
Don’t swim too far from the boat, and let the skipper know in what direction you intend to swim.
If the skipper has told you he is only going to be 15 minutes in a spot, don’t swim 15 miles in the opposite direction. Be back in or near the boat in 15.
Don’t throw your float out as soon as you pull up to a spot, wait until the boat is securely at anchor. When you alight from the boat do check that your rig cord is not wrapped around the motor leg.
Don’t jump in with a splash!
Don’t stick your fat finger onto the vessel’s electronics, or declare the last boat you went out on had much better electronics; you may find the repair bill is your monthly wage, and ask yourself why you aren’t out on that last boat today.
Don’t ever pull the gear stick into reverse whilst there are revs on the motor, you can do good damage. From forward thrust – engage into neutral – wait until revs subside – then engage reverse.
Don’t leave your chip packets, barely consumed staminade bottles and other of your rubbish lying in the boat – remove all of your own personal rubbish off the boat.
Don’t ever take bananas on board a boat.
Don’t bring a hand held GPS and ‘borrow’ marks. In fact forget the spots you are taken to.
Spearfishing on Boats | Dos
Do offer to set the anchor and retrieve it. If you don’t know the procedure, ask, you will be shown. Share this duty around the crew!
Do look out for the boat whilst you are in the water, first diver in the water should check that the anchor is set well. If you think the boat has drifted swim after it! DO reset the anchor.
If you notice the dive flag is not up in the boat, swim back and put it up – it may save your life.
When drift diving do show patience as the skipper and crew may need time to get the drift setup.
If stopping only for 10 minutes, do offer to boatie! (especially helpful in a comp)
When you can see the boat and crew are heading in your direction, do wrap your rig cord up, unload your gun and then hand the gun butt first to the crewman.
Do listen to the skipper when he tells you the best way to enter the boat from the water.
Do take your weight belt off and cleanly pass it over the gunwale until you have learnt correct entry procedure and are fluid in the technique – why is this? So you don’t smash the fiberglass to pieces with.
IF you don’t wish to be first in the water Do get out of the way and do help those keener divers to get in. If you do wish to be first in do it quickly and considerately.
Do be very wary of the pointy end of your gun while ‘gearing up’ in the boat.
Watch your flippers and don’t take out someone’s shin, or face when alighting from the boat and watch you don’t scratch the outboard cowling cover.
Do offer fuel money at the end of the day
Do offer to wash the boat, or clean the fish while the skipper washes the boat.
Do immediately wipe the blood and guts off the boat’s surfaces and floors before it dries, a 5 second job becomes a 5 minute one.
Do stow your equipment as the skipper directs. This helps with weight distribution which is crucial for a number of reasons. It also helps you not to lose stuff which is more common than you know!
The importance of continued learning in spearfishing
In everyday life we place so much importance on continually learning, so why should spearfishing and freediving be any different?
There is always lots of encouragement about taking a freediving course when you first start out, but what happens after that?
I think the time has come where we should put more emphasis on continuing our learning and taking further freediving courses to help further our own progression, whilst learning to do it safely. This not only makes us safer divers whilst learning to push our own limits, but also teaches us how to become an even better dive buddy than we already are.
After doing lots of research, I found that AIDA are at the forefront of freediving and so it was only right that I would then book in with Lucas Handley at The Underwater Academy in Sydney to do my Aida level 2 freediving course.
Image Credit Lucas Handley
Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from the 3 day freediving course
Don’t turn up expecting to have it handed to you on a silver platter
Freediving isn’t an easy sport, and like all good things it takes lots of practice and hard work to take yourself to the next level in your diving. Make sure you come into the course with an open and willing mind. There is so much information that you will learn, and lots of self improvement that will need to be done to help you on your way to reach the bottom times and depths you dream of. Lucas was great at helping me work on things from relaxing my mind, through to keeping my chin tucked in and shoulders relaxed. After lots of dives, guidance and perseverance I was able to get my streamlining down pat and become very efficient with my movements.
Become a deeper and safer dive buddy
In the level 2 course we learnt how to rescue someone from 10 metres. We also learnt how to safely and correctly swim someone back to shore, and how to get them out of the water to give them first aid if they are still non responsive.
These are all vital to learn, and I am so glad that I now have these skills and knowledge as I know that if anything goes pear shaped, I have greater chances of saving my buddies life. Lucas also highlighted many other safety tips for when out spearfishing. My favourite was being a proper dive buddy, and the one up one down technique. As Lucas said “There are 2 fillets to a fish, one for you and one for your buddy”. I think this a great take away as I would much rather share my catch knowing my buddy has my back and I have his, instead of making a phone call to their loved ones saying we have lost them as we all decided to swim off to do our own thing.
“There are 2 fillets to a fish, one for you and one for your buddy” Lucas Handley. Check out this article on why continuous learning is important in your spearfishing https://t.co/4my2iO5uuq
This has to be my favourite thing I learnt from Lucas. Quiet simply put, carbon dioxide building up in our lungs isn’t the nicest feeling in the world, but it is one we should learn to embrace and accept. Lucas was able to pinpoint where I had built a wall of where I would become uncomfortable and decide it was time to come up for air again. He helped me so much to break down this wall, and not only to understand the effects of carbon dioxide on the body, but also how to mentally prepare myself and embrace the experience. It is still something I will continually work on, but it was a great feeling to finally reach new phases in my carbon dioxide experiences.
I learnt so much from my Aida level 2 course with Lucas, and this is coming from someone who has seen and read so many different books, article, and videos prior. I highly recommend you invest your time and efforts back into yourself and your diving as it definitely helps make a world of difference not just to your own diving, but it will also give you great understanding and piece of mind of how to be the best dive buddy you could possibly be.
I could not have reached my goal of diving to 20 meters if it wasn’t for the amazing teachings from Lucas. I highly recommend going to Sydney to do his Aida level 2 course! I am very excited to do my Aida level 3 with him in September.