24 MIN­UTES WITH­OUT A BREATH

An in­ter­view with the static ap­nea world cham­pion, Aleix Se­gura

Scuba Diver Australasia - - Contents - In­ter­view with Aleix Se­gura

Aleix Se­gura Ven­drell is the cur­rent static ap­nea AIDA World Cham­pion, who is ca­pa­ble of over 10-minute breath-holds. Along­side his pro­fes­sion as an ar­chi­tect, the 31-year-old free­d­iver from Barcelona be­gan com­pet­i­tive free­d­iv­ing in 2011, de­but­ing with an im­pres­sive 8-minute breath-hold. Cur­rently, he has achieved three World Cham­pion ti­tles in static ap­nea (two by AIDA and one by CMAS). He is also a Guin­ness World Record holder, break­ing the of­fi­cial world record in static ap­nea on pure oxy­gen, reach­ing an in­cred­i­ble 24:03 min­utes at the Mediter­ranean Dive Show 2016.

How did you get into free­d­iv­ing, specif­i­cally static ap­nea?

As a child, I learned to freedive in the sea dur­ing fam­ily va­ca­tions in Costa Brava, the north­ern coast of Cat­alo­nia. Later, I be­gan spearfishing, which be­came the rea­son for me to im­prove my ap­nea ca­pac­ity so I could fur­ther ex­plore the Mediter­ranean depths.

How is static ap­nea dif­fer­ent from other forms of free­d­iv­ing?

It’s dif­fer­ent but strictly bonded to the other dis­ci­plines as dive time is a key fac­tor for all forms of free­d­iv­ing. It’s ob­vi­ously much less stren­u­ous for the mus­cles, but more psy­cho­log­i­cal and de­mand­ing on the ner­vous sys­tem – there are no short­cuts that tech­nique or tech­nol­ogy can pro­vide.

Why is static ap­nea your favourite form of free­d­iv­ing?

Static ap­nea is the ba­sic skill of free­d­iv­ing – breath-hold­ing is to free­d­iv­ing what run­ning is to ath­let­ics. It’s the foun­da­tion of free­d­iv­ing and the most re­ward­ing be­cause I can now ex­tend my bot­tom time when spearfishing.

What is your train­ing regime like?

It’s a slow and steady pro­gres­sion for me. Over the years, I have learnt to train more ef­fi­ciently with­out in­vest­ing im­mense ef­fort. Usu­ally, I train one hour per week in the pool, and I go spearfishing over the week­end if the sea fore­cast al­lows it. That forms the bulk of my train­ing, but when it’s com­pe­ti­tion sea­son, I train ex­ten­sively at least one month be­fore­hand. I also spend a lot of time in the ocean dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days.

Could you talk us through what it feels like hold­ing your breath in the wa­ter for 24 min­utes?

It starts with a hy­per­oxic aware­ness; then I go into a pe­riod of deep re­lax­ation, fol­lowed by a long fight with the di­aphrag­matic con­trac­tions – the con­fu­sion of hav­ing too much car­bon diox­ide in the body.

The feel­ing is harsh, but the risk is worse. Un­like nor­mal ap­nea, there is ma­jor neu­ro­logic and neu­rovas­cu­lar risk in­volved in oxy­gen-as­sisted ap­nea. An ac­ci­dent or black­out could be tragic with­out proper pro­fes­sional sup­port, and that is al­ways at the back of my head when I go fur­ther than any­one has be­fore. It’s like, in a much lighter sense, when Enzo Maiorca was warned his tho­rax could im­plode at a depth of 50 me­tres and he still took the chal­lenge.

Any dif­fi­cul­ties you have ex­pe­ri­enced?

I haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced any sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems apart from the dif­fi­culty of the dive it­self, which is curbed through train­ing and the pres­ence of the med­i­cal crew who are al­ways ready for the un­ex­pected. Or­gan­is­ing the event has proven to be more dif­fi­cult – find­ing a spon­sor, setup, and broad­cast­ing, not to men­tion ful­fill­ing the ex­ten­sive Guin­ness World Record con­trol pro­to­cols.

What about the most re­ward­ing and/or mem­o­rable time?

My most re­ward­ing time is in the sea, away from the com­pe­ti­tion but en­joy­ing us­ing my skills un­der­wa­ter. In terms of com­pe­ti­tion, I’d say in Bel­grade when I won my first World Cham­pion ti­tle, I knew I was the best at that point but be­ing able to prove it was an ac­com­plish­ment and mo­ti­vated me to en­joy this sport more.

Could you share some of your fu­ture goals with us?

Yes, in 2018 we have the AIDA and CMAS in­di­vid­ual ap­nea World Cham­pi­onships so I hope to be in one or both of them.

What ad­vice would you give to as­pir­ing static ap­nea ath­letes?

Pa­tience is key. With proper and ef­fi­cient train­ing, the pro­gres­sion will come even with­out in­ten­sive train­ing.

It starts with a hy­per­oxic aware­ness, then I go into a pe­riod of deep re­lax­ation, fol­lowed by a long fight with the di­aphrag­matic con­trac­tions

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