‘’...while under the water surface, I started reflecting on the sound of my heartbeat, thumping loudly in the middle of all that silence, and the feeling of being relaxed…of feeling so different from the norm…kicking along the lane looking at the blue line darting under my eyes. It looked like a runaway that close up.’’ Those are not the words of a professional or experienced freediver, but those of Gaia Piazza (Italian National Canoe Team, sixth in the Canoe Marathon K1 World Ranking)
Last 15th March I had the pleasure and the honour of being invited to participate to an evening dedicated to the following theme: ‘’Freediving at the service of sport – Benefits of holding one’s breath’’, event sponsored by Sesto Calende and organised by Wave Sports Centre, where I train regularly. Gaia joined me and my trainer, Emiliano Scaburri, and she told us her experience and the feelings freediving left her with. But what do canoe and freediving have in common? How could freediving help improving sport performance? Easy! During any sport performance there’s a moment when we start running low on oxygen…Knowing how to deal with that moment can make the difference, and, to remain efficient even in those circumstances, the secret is to learn how to breathe. It might seem strange, but to be able to hold one’s breath for a long time, a conscious knowledge of how to breathe willingly is essential. Or, as Emiliano and I rather say: let body and mind breathe together.
This consciousness will bring two gifts:
Direct – Mechanic
With the help of full breathing techniques more volumes can be exchanged, and this allows us better oxygen levels in our blood stream, and a relative higher oxygen availability for our muscles, which will in turn be better suited to harder work.
Indirect – Psychological
Breathing is a physical function that is strongly connected to emotions; frequency and amplitude of our breaths vary following the pattern of our emotions, and how we manage them, but the opposite is also true. Conscious breathing helps us keeping our emotions in check when they attempt to hold us hostage. Fear of dying for freedivers, expectations for an Olympic athlete training for 3 years, 364 days, for a 10 seconds competition…those are just 2 examples of emotions strong enough to take charge.
Holding one’s breath becomes therefore a moment of introspection, of research, and allows us to get in touch with the most intimate and hidden parts of our self. Holding our breath forces us to look at ourselves, to listen.
Holding our breath forces us to look at ourselves, to listen. Adopting this listening attitude, feeling our heartbeat and all those thoughts which come and go, is the key to explore our limits and to find the means to overcome the same and face every challenge with understanding.
For over a year now, with Emiliano, we’ve been working at consolidating a programme which includes freediving training as a useful instrument for preparing for other sports. The idea is to test the method and insert it in the book we have been meaning to write. The incipit could be: the question I’m asked most frequently is ‘’ How does one achieve a linear distance of 247,30 metres swimming in 3 minutes and 57 seconds? What’s your secret?’’ The answer is learning to breathe!
Livia, romana di nascita, un giorno per caso si imbatte in un cartello: “Prova gratuita di apnea”. Per la prima volta indossa la monopinna ed è amore a prima vista! Da allora in poco meno di quattro anni, diventa Campionessa Europea nella specialità DYN BiPinne, di cui l’anno dopo diventa anche Vice Campionessa del Mondo unitamente al titolo di Campionessa Mondiale Dyn. Allenatore di Apnea Indoor Fipsas. Adora sperimentare nuove tecniche di allenamento con i suoi allievi. Vive al Lago Maggiore con suo marito e due gatte.