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Tips For Holding Breath For Longer - Keep Mind Occupied

 UPDATE - I now live in Xiaoliuqiu, Taiwan and teach freediving courses here. Click on Learn Freediving Taipei to learn more. 


  • Meditation 
  • Visualization 
  • ABCs
  • Math/Counting
  • Songs 



When I was working a Monday to Friday office job I would play this song in my head or on Youtube whenever Friday hit. If you’ve never heard of it, this song debut in the early 90’s from a band called the Cure. The lead singer Robert Smith called this a “dumb pop song” and the cheerful nature of the song was a sharp departure from his usual miserable outlook on life. Speaking of miserable, I actually saw the Cure in Hong Kong about 10 years ago and Robert Smith was about the size of a shopping mall Santa Claus and it was a MISERABLE performance. 



Mastering relaxation is one of the most important components of freediving. 

Whether you are doing statics, dynamic or diving for depth, mastering your relaxation method is key, though until very recently I would use the below methods only on statics.  

Static breath-hold is by far my worst discipline in freediving.I couldn’t even reach the 2-minute requirement on my first course and I nearly was not able to go onto my instructor course if I didn’t complete a 3.5-minute static just two days before the course was to begin. Thus, I’ve tried a fair amount of relaxation methods in order to improve my static. 

Being around a few freedivers I’ve heard many many many methods of what to do with your mind to stay relaxed and remove your mind from the static breath-hold. The trick is to balance your mind to keep it a bit active to keep your mind off the static, but not so much where it requires great thought. Here’s a list: 

  • Meditation - I’ve been off and on doing transcendental meditation for 3 years and I’ve tried chanting my mantra in my head during my static. This didn’t work, as my meditation practice, well, needs more practice
  • Visualizing going into a home from your childhood - go into great detail, notice the smell of the place, certain corners, the carpet, the tiles in the kitchen, driving in through the driveway. This required way too much thinking for me and didn’t work. 
  • ABC - I’ve heard people play around with the alphabet in various ways. One version was very slowly tracing the alphabet with their finger. My first freedive instructor suggested going through the alphabet and naming movies. I found that too difficult so I went with either people’s names or vegetables or fruit as you go through the alphabet. This got me through AIDA 2 and 3 statics. 
  • Math/counting - Counting up is too easy, so I heard that counting down from 100 is perhaps a better method. I found that too easy so I would randomly pick a number between 500 and 995 and countdown slowly by increments of 5. This got me through AIDA 4 3:30 static. 
  • Songs - about a week ago I was doing some pool training with my dive buddy Gabie (IG = gabrielle.lui) - she was going for an 80m bifin dynamic but stopped at 40m. Something was bothering her, her mind wasn’t right. During the same session, she tries again and was going to try for 60-80m. GUESS WHAT SHE DID!?!?! She hit 100m - which is the requirement for Molchanovs instructor certification. The only thing she changed was singing some silly song in her head. 

After I saw what Gabie did, I started to integrate that into my training. I chose “Friday I’m in Love” precisely because it’s a “dumb pop song” and the lyrics are pretty easy to remember. With that I was able to hit 60m dynamic no fins. Hit a PB 80m dynamic bi-fins twice (Hopefully will hit 100m tomorrow) and I started to use it during my free falls. 

I made a pretty stupid mistake. Before I got to Gili Air, free immersion (FIM)  just seemed like a necessary evil for warm-ups or whatever. I much preferred constant weight (CWT). Once I got to Gili Air and started hitting depths of 30+ meters, I found doing FIM was much easier as it requires much less energy thus for a long time I concentrated a lot more on FIM than CWT in trying to extend my depth. I assumed if I could hit a depth in FIM I should be able to easily hit it in CWT.


After hitting 38m in FIM and in striking distance of the 40m requirement for instructor certification, I started to work on my CWT. I tried a 32m dive and after the turn, I was contracting so hard I used the line to pull myself up. On another day I did a 35m dive and my buddy said I had cyanosis after the dive. OH SH*T! 

Today was the first session I 100% concentrated on CWT and it was FANTASTIC. WHY? I was singing “Friday I’m In Love” on my free fall helping me to relax. I did 32m, 34m and 36m dives in a very relaxed and controlled manner. 40m should be no problem now, knock on wood! 

And I will be using this for my 4 minutes static! Wish me luck! (UPDATE NOV 2019 - I did it!) 

Dive safe everyone and never dive alone! 

1 comment

  • Wooohoooo!!! It’s great! Happy to read all through your journey! How is it going now? Ready for the deep week?


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