Pool training for spearfishing
Why should i train pool?
Training for spearfishing can take many forms. many full time spearos reject pool training preferring the old school notion that more ocean time is the best training, for many divers this is all they need for their type of diving. However a regular well structured training can not only provide many benefits that transfer to the sea but may also help identify flaws in technique that may be holding you back from deeper dives or preventing more successful stalking opportunities. It will also provide a chance to advance your skills when ocean conditions are not favourable instead of staying dry.
An important point to note is that freediving training and spearfishing training are very much the same though making your drills specialised for spearfishing will develop the specific demands of spearfishing much faster. Always remember to train under direct supervision with a buddy providing in water safety and inform them of your dive plan before starting your swim.
How can i train for spearfishing?
There are many ways you can focus training for spearfishing. depending on your skill level it can be beneficial to take the regular freediving approach to pool training placing focus on introducing Co2 through interval training, working on extending distance with maximum swims and using the pool as a chance to work on fine tuning your kicking and breath up techniques.
For many that Spearfish the most beneficial way to train is to place your focus on drills that will mimic the conditions and scenarios you are most likely going to face while hunting in the ocean. The main reasoning behind this is that not only are you physically conditioning yourself for spearfishing dives but also working on a strong mental familiarity to how a dive is structured, resulting in easier more controlled dives. This is where delay training comes in handy
Delay training takes a few forms and can be used to target a variety of different pressure points in your diving. To train delays it is simply having a set distance for your swim and introducing a static at either the beginning, middle or end of the dive. Where you place your delay will alter what the dive will feel like as well as focus on a different type of training
40 second static, 50m Dynamic - The static at the start will give your body time to relax as your dive response kicks in, this will result in more underwater time and generally a more comfortable dynamic. (be warned that a longer static can bring you closer to hypoxia, always increase your delay times with caution in small increments)
25m dynamic, 40second static ,25m dynamic - The static halfway through a swim will feel less relaxed than static at the beginning as the body has already accumulated Co2 from the swim. this style of drill will place focus on being able to relax your body after physical activity.
50m dynamic 40 second static - The delay at the end will force you to deal with your full accumulation of Co2 as well as a common mental conditioning of “wall = end of dive”
Notice that all 3 drills the distance and time doesn’t change, just the structure of the dive plan. experiment with these drills and it will be a very different experience for each of them with most divers experiencing the most discomfort on drill #3 . For training for spearfishing the most ideal drill to place your focus on is #2 as it is the most beneficial for mimicking the feelings and time you will encounter on a dive. Think of the swim at the start as your descent down to depth, the delay is you waiting on the bottom relaxing your body and scouting for targets and the return is your ascent. Its always important to start of low and build up if you are new to delays and always remember to have a buddy acting as safety in the pool, for safety reasons don’t forget to inform your buddy of you delay times and swim distances.
Once you are comfortable with a basic halfway delay drill you can begin to incorporate different scenarios into your delay training, think of how you structure your dives. how deep do you usually swim to? , Do you freefall?, do you wait then move along the bottom looking for prey? and how long will your ascent be? all the questions should be taken into consideration when making more complex delay drills, here are a few extended delay examples to help train many common scenarios.
descent - 15m dynamic / freefall and waiting -1:00 static/ ascent - 25m dynamic
descent - 15m dynamic / freefall -15 second static / scouting - 10m dynamic / ascent - 25m dynamic
descent - 15m dynamic / freefall -15 second static / scouting - 10m dynamic / ambush - 20 second static / ascent - 25m dynamic
Scale these drills to your needs as every diver is different there can be alterations to depth and total bottom time. the advantage of the pool is being able to push yourself much closer to your limit than you ever will be able to safely in the sea. always remember to have an attentive and competent safety diver while pool training.
How about dead weight
lets break this into 2 scenarios:
If you are lucky and follow your pursuits correctly one day you will be able to land a large pelagic species. one moment you are negative in buoyancy and lining up a shot. the next you are handling a heavy dispatched fish ascending back. you rely solely on the adrenaline and excitement to return back to the surface.
You are diving deep with a friend. they dive down to line up a shot, they fail at making a kill and overstay their time at depth, on return they blackout 18m from the surface. Your natural responses kick in and you race down to retrieve your friend, When was the last time you practised a rescue?
These two scenarios can be trained the exact same way, what we are focusing on is how to position and control a dead weight while swimming, something that with a bit of practice and learning to pace yourself you can handle any mass through the water. this drill will require a buddy in water to participate.
start with each diver at an end of a 25m pool.
at the start of the swimmers dive the ‘victim’ up the far end will sink onto the bottom and play dead.
the goal of the swimmer is to retrieve the victim from 25m and return them to the opposite end without surfacing.
Extra training you can add a surface rescue procedure to the end of the dive (please do not drill knife dispatching a fish on your buddy)
race against another pair of divers to add a challenge to the drill
Some key points in this drill is to push the dead weight instead of pulling, focusing on keeping you and the dead weight as streamlined as possibly to make the swim easier. play around with different grabs and techniques to find the best position for you.
The key to improving your performance is regular exposure. if you are in the water almost every day try to have at least one pool session a week. if you are more likely to be only spearing on weekends, use your weeknights to find some like minded divers and train pool somewhere, once a week is maintaining ability but will only deliver a slow improvement curve, twice a week and more is how you’ll begin to improve at a more desired rate, don’t forget to also rest yourself occasionally. Always remember to have someone with you in the water at al times providing safety and if you need to learn more i would highly recommend attending a spearfishing or even a freediving course to learn safe diving practices. Sydney courses can be found here
Have fun training
dive safe, never dive alone