The quest for the perfect noseclip
- equipment development in performance freediving
© Sebastian Naslund
In the Hawaii WC 2003 we saw some Japaneese turning up with monofins finishing their dives with great speeds. photos and stories A discussion started regarding speed, time and energy expense. Maybe one third of the divers used monfins around this time. And we all know how it ended. Everybody have them now. There are no more bifins in performance freediving. The advantage of being able to use more musclegroups and use the dolphinkick with a greater finsurface is much too great.
In those days after the millenium everybody was long since aware of different blade materials. The spearfishers had produced some interesting bi fins. Alreay going from rubber to plastic was a great improvement. Now we began to see more and more complex materials, like glasfiber and carbon. Stronger more flexible material that could make thinner fins.
By the way, in Ibiza we also saw an unknown diver voluntarily use a lanyard. Someone that had the good sense of not trusting the scuba safeties which was more or less the main safety feature (apart from freedvers).
In pursuit of the second skin
The first wetsuits produced for scubadivers more than half a century ago was actually open cell on both sides. One did not yet have the skill to add protective nylon on the outside (inside). Nylons have been loved by scubas for many decades now, but as freediving became more focused on details and surface hydrodynamics became an issue freedivers started looking for other solutions. Triathlon swimmers and the like had already forced smoothskin solutions onto the market. Freedivers bought it.
The neckweight followed into the depth disciplines where it lessened form drag and improved freefalling (have you noticed how your legs always want to "fall over" and overtake you).
In those days around 2002-2005 there was lots of talk about new techniques like packing, mouthfill ( and the mysterious handsfree) and freefalling. No body talked about squeeze and everybody feared the black out as a "should I go to hospital" kind of incident. But that is another story.
The #1 factor
Then the two most important steps in competitive freediving took place. It started with the understanding that the diverope was actually quite important and useful (I set my first PB´s in free water back in 1999 - crazy!). Since it is a good idea to be able to pull yourself up in emergency, new sturdy buoys where developed - using car tubes. But the real leap in safety came with the lanyard.
The end of the Sphera
Regarding depth measurement some where swimming with analogue meters some decade ago, the rich would have the huge Mares Apneist box on their arm. Soon everybody was racing to buy the Suunto D3, specialized for freediving. Sort of cheap but often malfunctioning (but you got a replacement if you complained). Eric Fattah understood the the future was in computers and that there is actually no reason to limit the functions when datachips are getting smaller and smaller. The F1 project caused great interest. Price was high and prototypes malfunctioned. Fattah gave up on the tight fisted freediving market and makes his F1 mainly for the Scuba people.
Mares challenged Suunto with the heavy stainless steel Mares apneist (less plastic and very masculine). It had the same features and was more reliable, but was never a big seller. Suunto started facing out the D3 in 2008 after suggesting freedivers to buy the more expensive D4. (Myself being an extreme and fetishistic freediver I would never don something that actually has scuba functions). Now there is talk about a new freediver gauge from Suunto, but Aeris beat them to it with the F10 that costs as much as a D3 (less considering inflation) and has more functions.
So now that leaves us with only one piece of equipment to be discussed. The noseclip and the presentation of the final solution. Not only do you save air with a noseclip (the air that would have been spent on the mask), you expose your face to water and chill, and thus enhancing oxygen saving dive response. AND your hands are free to use in the ever increasing popular CNF (no fins discipline). Now there is even a category allowing only noseclip, no suit, no other equipment. UFC ultimate freediving competition or unassisted. As pure as, or purer, than the Skandalopetra (hold on to a stone and follow it down).
Who was the first to swim deep without mask? I have not been able to find out, but Natalja Molchaniova was early. And before that saw the futurist Sebastien Murat go to extreme depths with face exposed. Problem is that if you swim head down your sinuses will fill up (Sebastien as Pipin as Musimu uses sinusfilling at depth as a equalization method). It is extremely painful for the beginner (yes it is). The noseclip solves the problem if you are not into wet equalization.
The noseclip brand to look for has always been french Paradisia. And yes, you have too look. No one really knows where to buy this french make. In Ibiza the guy was hiding on a parking lot in the dark selling this like it was illegal. The price was also high 30 euros back then. Performance freediving team got fed up looking for Paradisias and started manufacturing their own. They put a little design into it and made a curve at the base of "the nose" making it come closer. Freedive Trainers International (Martin Stepanek leaving the cooperation with PFT and Kirk Krack) soon had their own version. a little bit sturdier which might be good, since I have seen the PFT one break.
In my opinion the Paradisia still reigns.... until now. In my hand I have a prototype fresh from the factory of Trygons (Greek speargun manufacturer). The owner of Trygons, Alex, has the bad habit of hanging around Herbert, and thus might have been exposed to some nosclip complains. So Alex went to his workshop and out of first class aluminium (normally used for airplanes) he produced a futuristic looking piece. It sure will not break. It is barely heavier than its rivals. It is smaller in its pressing points, and yet covers the essential surface. It has no fixed points, its stops exactly where you want it to stop with the exact pressure. The outsticking part can be angled downwards.. The contact surface is not too soft and yet not too rough (I have had sandpaper glued on the insides of my Paradisia, this is not needed with the Trygons).
Some will hate it, others will never want to take it of. And there will be a discussion on how to ware it, some will happily wear it upside down in the this world of genetic nose diversity.
The future looks bright for Performance Freediving
© Sebastian Naslund