Extreme training in the lake

Training extreme spearfishing, at prohibitive depths, in conditions often of low visibility and low temperatures, requires a special methodology.

In addition to normal workout in the pool, gym and outdoor, I add static apnea tests deep into the lake.

I chose Lake Bracciano, near Rome, because this volcanic lake is neither subjected to meteorological or currents problems as it happens on the open sea, also the lake water is deep already near the shore.

On the other hand, the training conditions are more extreme than those normally found at sea.

The surface temperature varies with the seasons, ranging from 12°C to 29°C. In the deep, however, the temperature fluctuates little, between 9°C and 11°C, unlike the marine one that settles all the year between 14°C and 16°C below 40 meters.


But the most difficult problem is poor visibility. Over 20-25 meters is all dark. The suspension of algae and organic material makes the water turbid already in the first meters giving it a dominant green and constituting a natural barrier to sunlight. In addition, the bottom is muddy and it serves only one small movement to make turbid everything and give you the feeling of floating in nothingness.


Training the mind

It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s deep.

I am on the backdrop of the lake at 30, 40, 50m. I just want to breathe, to rise to the surface. I feel the beating of my heart slowing down. The movements are absent.
I close my eyes and focus myself on my heart: I manage the contractions of the diaphragm and the desire to breathe only with the will and by removing the fear of danger.
I open my eyes at times, I barely see. It’s my depth gauge that keeps track of time. Finally the muddy bottom of the lake is all around me: deserted and gloomy where I am the only form of conscious life.

I’m fine, I repeat to myself. I’m calm, I still have time before I go back to the surface.

The cold penetrates the diving suit crushed by the pressure. It’s intense but it does not affect my concentration.
I still try to explore with the look, but the bottom of the lake around me is just visible: it is a desolate and dark landscape yet it is fascinating to be there.

It’s time to rise to the surface, I repeat to myself, looking in backlight the rope that serves as a guide.

Training the body

During the winter and spring months I have a few opportunities to dive deep into the sea, so I need to maintain my habit in depth. 
Compensation, blood shifting, crushing of the chest cage: these are elements that must be kept in constant exercise, just like all the rest of the body.

I don’t have to lose the habit of all the sensations that accompany a deep dive.

I must prevent normal feelings from becoming unpleasant sensations and that they create a negative emotional tension.

Body and mind must always travel together.

That’s why I try to do at least a couple of workouts a month into the lake from February to June and then from September to November.
At each session I repeat dive in constant weight to a predetermined height of at least 30 meters making a break as long as possible at the bottom of the lake and looking for maximum relaxation there.

It is interesting to observe how the total time of apnea, of each dip, progresses to the increase of the workouts I do, as if the body feels more and more “at home” underwater.

Considering my level of experience accumulated over the years and constant efforts to achieve solid physical and mental preparation, the progression of the time of apnea depends on my level of adaptation to the situation, the level of tranquility and confidence I can gain from the extreme situations.

For this reason I also train the mind to recognize the body’s reactions and not to be overcome by the fear of the unknown. I train my mind to the evaluation of time. This training remains the most important thing in a challenge that always has a well-defined limit.