From The Mind Of Gabriel Shear

Thursday, October 2 2014

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Training To Hold Your Breath Underwater.

Disclaimer: Information presented here is for educational purposes only, I assume no liability for its use.

Holding your breath under water for extended periods of time, is something most people never do. Other then maybe as children trying to best one another at the pool. It’s not a skill that comes in handy very often for most people, and so most people don’t know how to train themselves to do it.

I spent most of my summers as a teenager skin diving for fishing lures and other treasures on the bottom of lakes around where I grew up. I would earn cash by selling them back to the fishermen on the shore and I also found quite a bit of jewelry, wallets, sunglasses and other valuables (Drunk house boaters kick all kinds of shit in the water). I could dive to depths of over 70 feet and then cruse the bottom for about two minutes before having to surface for air. Now two minutes may not seem like a long time but try holding your breath for that long while sitting still, then imagine swimming around while doing it. That shit is tough I can tell you that I didn’t start out going that long. I had to train myself. Whatever your reason for wanting to learn how. I will outline the way I trained so that you too can learn as well.

I want to give you some information on the reason why you panic while holding your breath. Take a deep breath and hold it. As you sit there you will start to feel an uncomfortable sensation in your chest. A burning sensation that causes your heart to race your eyes to start watering and eventually your gasps for air. This is normally the feeling we associate with suffocation. It is not you suffocating. What you are feeling is the buildup of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) gas in your lungs. We breath in air, absorb the oxygen out of it and expel the waste CO2 gas as we breath out. When you don’t breath out the waste gases, you build up the concentration of CO2 gas in your lungs. Now because your lungs have water in them, that water starts to absorb the CO2 gas and convert to carbonic acid (soda water) This acid literally burns the lining of your lungs and that is what you feel. As long as you can remove the CO2 you will feel fine even if there is no oxygen in the air, eventually passing out and dying. This happens to pilots of small aircraft that fly to high without supplemental oxygen. They fly up too high where the air is thin with little oxygen, they don’t feel like anything is wrong but they are suffocating. They eventually pass out and can die. Incidentally I happened to see this as a method of murder on a TV show once. They filled the room with nitrogen gas and the person, unaware that there was no oxygen in the room died. After a while the nitrogen dissipated leaving no trace of the cause of death.

Your going to need a place to train. This won’t work in a swimming pool. You will need a deep body of water. Around 90 feet or so should work. Like all water activities you should do this with a partner encase something happens you won’t drown. Lastly you will need some big rocks and something to float them on (A large log works well).

Start by taking the rocks and whatever you have found to float them on and go out into the water till a suitably deep area has been found. Take one of the rocks in one arm and using your other arm pinch your nose. Take a few deep breaths to clear as much CO2 out of your lungs as possible but don’t hyperventilate. Let go of your float and let the rocks weight quickly take you to the bottom. Your going to get to the bottom pretty fast so you will have to continually equalize the pressure in your ears as you go deeper. That’s why you need one free hand. So when you get to the bottom just let go of the rock and start to swim to the surface. Its gonna seem like an eternity and you’re gonna be forced to hold your breath for a lot longer then you normally would be able too  and basically that’s the key. Your forcing yourself to hold your breath so you can dull the aching response your body normally gives. You have no choice but to keep going till you’ve reached the surface. By continually doing this your going to build up the ability to hold your breath for longer and longer. Once you can reach the surface without feeling like your dying, try swimming around when your reach the bottom and then start to surface. This technique works really well and it’s amazing how fast your body adapts. It won’t be to long till your able to stay down for a couple of minutes or more.

Another game I used to play with friends to increase our endurance involved letting a tarp sink to the bottom and then pulling it back to the surface. Sometimes we would take turns because we couldn’t get it up on a single breath. One person going down and bringing it halfway up and then the other person diving down and grabbing it to bring it the rest of the way. Kinda like running in sand.

– Gabriel Shear

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