The right bottom turn
Technical :: 2006-12-28 08:02:28
In constant weight, at the end of the descent, you have to turn to go back up, this is obvious. What is less obvious, is to do it the right way. Claude Chapuis details this move which has nowadays become fundamental in competition. It is also an essential security factor.
Turns in Constant Weight?
Turning to better go back up?
(or anything else according to your experience?)
The turn in constant weight has been strictly regulated, but it sometimes is an issue for some apneists, champions or beginners. If the beginners are forgiven because of their lack of experience; the competitors should sometomes better train this technical move, which is essential to the performance in constant weight; Here is below 4 anecdotic stories to prove where can a missed turn lead. Afterwards on a serious note, we will analyse the turn and find out how to improve with some factual situations.
Four short stories on turns
Red Sea Dive 1999 in Egypt: Olivier Heuleu, member of the AIDA France team reaches the final point where lies the stick to take back up. He takes the rope, stretches the hand and misses the white stick. He starts again but cannot hold the stick. He tries again for a third time, but misses again. He decides to go back up, but takes 1 penalty point for having missed the stick. If I remember well, France finished this competition 2nd behind the Italians, only 1 point ahead.
World cup AIDA 2000 in Nice: An apneist who I cannot recognise on the archives shots (lucky him!), realizes that the fonte is a heavy metal. He literally goes inside the final disc painted in white, tries to find the stick his masque full of water, doesn't find it and go back up at an immoral speed, most certainly stressed by the very aquatic vision given by his masque.
Hawai 2002: Depth is limited to 70m by the organisation body (ah the Americans!). The depth is easy for Guillaume Nery who has just reached 87m a few months ago for his world record. Once at the bottom, he holds the rope, takes the stick, says hello to the camera, while doing this changes the position of his hand and goes back up. Result: disqualified for not having respected the terms (see notes below). If I had been his coach, once back in France I would have asked him to execute 100 turns in 10m of water, so that he clearly remembers that once at the bottom, the only thing to do is to take the stick and go back up!
Villefranche sur Mer 2003 : Some students of the science of sport course at the university qre in training. They are not advanced divers as this is only their 4th descent in constant weight (they however all go down to 15m in average). On a specific dive, where the theme is the workout on sensations (they have already worked on the turns before), the students must close their eyes on what they feel is a depth of around 7 or 8m, open their eyes, finish the descent and do the turn. One of the students go down, down and down....and throws himself into the posidonies. The weight is indeed put at the bottom as we used a rolling tool. The conclusion is that taking information before turning is important.
AIDA international regulates as below the turn in constant weight *:
"The apneist must go down and go up by using his fins. It is not allowed during the descent or on the way up to hold the rope. The only thing allowed, is to maintain yourself with the rope with one or two hands, without changing the position of the hands, to stop the descent qnd start the climb up, without moving the holding point; In any other case, the apneist will be penalised or disqualified
* [ this point has slightly changed since the article was written ]
Analysis of the turn
Since the turn takes place in between the descent and the start of the way up, the end of the descent corresponds to the preparation of the turn; The objective is to grab the stick if this is a competition, and in any cases, to avoid staying below for a long time. This is indeed an area where several problems coexist: It is often cold, dark, compensation issues arise, the apneist is often more worried because he is far from the surface, and he is slightly aware that he has to go back all the way up. We have a saying in Nice which states that the more an apneist goes down, the more the arrow goes near the red zone in his head. This is the reason why a turn must be worked to become an automatism. Let's detail each part of the turn:
The end of the descent:
You need to erase the unuseful tensions, in one word: relax. Most of the time the freediver is looking for gliding down, and often because of his weight apparently negative he tends to sink down. We advise not to use the fins in the last meters but to let yourself go down. This will have the advantage to make the relaxation easier, and therefore the compensation, and avoid unuseful moves which will prevent the good preparation of the turn. The hand must guide itself on the rope, and then we are ready to grab it and block the descent. The compensation cannot take place at the wrong time while below; especially not when turning, this is already as difficult as it is. Training will allow to do in a tactically correct way the last compensation 2 or 3m before turning. Finally, you must take some information on the distance which is between you and the final plate before knowing when to stop the descent (this is the reason why we paint these plates in white and yellow). This information will avoid you to embrace the final disc and to stress yourself.
To stop the descent, the hand firmly holds the rope. As you must avoid any unuseful gestures and losing time, the position of the hand is not innocent. To understand in which way you must hold the rope to start the impulsion to go back up, imagine yourself standing up with a rope in front of you (as if you had to climb up a rope). Stretch the hand up to hold the rope, the hand is then ideally positionned. But in constant weight, the head is facing down. We advise to leave a few 10th meters between you and the rope to allow the hand to position itself in a correct way. Otherwise you will have to turn a bit the fist when turning, and the impulsion of the arm will be reduced. Also, the hand must stop the descent at the right time, which is at least one meter before the end of the rope. The ideal situation is to be able to touch the plate or grab the stick when the arm which stop the descent is stretched. The impulsion of the start will be felt instantly and its amplitude stronger.
The start from the bottom
To start in a good way, you must use the holding point represented by the rope. You pull out on the arm, and to this impulsion of average strength must be added the extension of the legs with a monofin and a cissor with fins. The combination of both moves must allow you to start from the bottom very quickly but without any sudden moves. With only 1 or 2 seconds to execute your turn, you give the image of someone who bounces on the plate, and this is a good thing. We can summarize this short analysis of the turn in constant weight to a simple sentence: The less time you spend below, the better". This is a different philosophy from the one shown in The Big Blue, where the heroes seem to enjoy being at the bottom. The modern freediving is technical, tactical and serious, in short, the very contrary of the movie from Luc Besson, except for the beauty of the images, and the fact that freediving is a sport where feelings and sensations are important.
OK; now that we know how to turn, how and when to work on this technique?
When do we have to work our turns?
We mustn't work on our technical moves only when preparing for a competition or when in need to show it up. This is the reason why in all sports this is at the start of the season, when going back to training that we work on our gestures. Imagine a sprinter who one month before the Olympic games would decide to work on his starting blocks! For the turn in constant weight, this is a bit easier, as each time we go down, we need ti turn to go back up. If in the training sessions, from october to december, we can emphasize on this workout, this is in fact all year long that at each turn the apneist will take a special care to this technical gesture. To take back the image of the sprinter, this is all year long that the starting block is worked out. Therefore, the technical gesture becomes an automatism.
What are the best situations to learn to turn?
In a training pool, we can lay a rope on the surface and workout on the turn gesture. You swim on surface, you introduce a gliding phasis just like the last one in constant weight, you grab the rope and do the turn by holding an imaginary object with the free hand. We can also ask the swimmer to take a swimming belt. If we cannot have a rope, we can also use a water line. Of course, the same situation can be worked under the water, but to lay the rope in between two waters is often impossible.In a swimming pool this work is interesting as we can perfectly see the moves from the apneist and the corrections are easier. The video can also be used.
At sea, as from level1, in 5m depth, you can start to make the apneist aware of the importance of the turns. For the beginners, this has the advantage to make them understand that at the bottom you need to remain near the rope. Indeed, during the turn, you can feel a bit dizzy, or even have a cramp because of a sudden move. The, as the rope represents the life line, to be next to this one means that you can get out more easily from a difficult situation. This philosophy, this behaviour is part of the freediver's education, part of his own security.
To begin with, you do not exercise that move in your maximum depth because you have to get rid of the other problems in order to focus on the figure you want to exercise. Let's get rid then of the equalization problems and the depth stress. If you have a 7 meters constant weight level, put the weight at 5m and you will have to turn around 4m. In order to avoid to be too light, and to feel the correct gesture, put on more weight in so that you can have a short glide around 4m. The turn is in fact useless if you float. You can then make variations by trying to turn with one hand and then the other so you can feel which one you feel more comfortable with. Another action is to exercise the turn on the rope, without being at the bottom or close to a plate. You can work your eyes closed, time your turns to see if they can be efficient: 2 seconds to turn in a maximum, 6 or 7 seconds an horror. To this extent, the coach can put a mark 2 m away from the plate. As soon as the freediver swims in front of the mark, the coach start the chrono, and stops it when the diver passes by again. Efficiency, coordination, are synonimous of a short chrono. And to those who would say that we don't see anything from the surface at sea to be seen and corrected by the coach, I would say, yes you are right, this is why in Nice we often have the coach at the bottom. He goes 10sec. before the athlete, reaches the plate and extends the hand as a witness tool. The freediver must touch the hand. The coach can then go back up with his student or his athlete and even correct him directly from under the water (if his head is not positionned correctly for example). This is also an excellent situation which allows the coach to work a bit his apnea. I would advise for any other cases, to go to a freediver club where you can meet some experts. You do not practise freediving alone. With other people, this is more awarding. By exchanging your point of views, you will work better on your turns, so that from a simple technique it becomes a style, yours.
As a conclusion, let me tell you another short story. Today, almost everybody freedives with a security rope. By wanting to turn under the final plate, many freedivers have found themselves in a difficult situation, held at the bottom by the rope wrapped around the plate. If you would only take one advice from this article, here it is: turn before the last plate, not under. Because, now tell me despite of trying to go 50m deeper, what's its use apart from doing nots?
Text by Claude Chapuis
Translated by Marie Laure
Uw pic by Dan Burton
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