PADI Freediving Camp at Y-40
We were offered the opportunity to head off to the fantastic Y-40 Pool in the beautiful surroundings of the Euganean Hills Thermal Park in Italy, 40 minutes out of Venice.
PADI were running a Freediving Camp, with a view to get a few of us certified as Freedivers, and hopefully as Freediving Instructors by the end of the camp.
We decided we wanted to give this a go, what a fantastic opportunity.
As the weeks went by before the trip we had the home study to complete, and I started to get myself ready by working on my CO2 tolerance with breath hold exercises at home. Pash has been Freediving for a couple of years now, so has already got a lot of the skills needed to get through the courses, as a newbie, I wasn’t sure I was up to the task, but I wanted to give it my best.
Finally the day came to head off to the airport on our new adventure, it was an early start so it wasn’t quite bright eyed an bushy tailed!
Due to a flight cancellation, we had a bit of an extended journey, via Milan with a train journey across the Italian countryside.
When we turned up to the Hotel Terme Millepini we were tired from a long journey (thanks Easy Jet!) so we were really happy to see how lovely the hotel is, after a quick change it was straight out to the thermal swimming pool to meet the rest of the group, and catch up with our PADI Regional Manager Emma.
We all met up that evening for our first part of the course, our Quick review to check that all that home study had actually gone in and was stored in the grey matter.
We then moved onto proper breathing techniques, and relaxation techniques, and the very important equalisation techniques needed for Freediving.
Our orientation of the course showed that we were in for an intensive few days, no slacking for the next four days.
Day One: The camp started off early with the Basic Freediver and the Freediver course, this covers the fundamental skills needed for Free Diving. The PADI
Basic Freediver course is a subset of the PADI Freediver course. It’s a great first step for developing solid freediving skills. You learn basic freediving principles and focus on practicing breath-hold techniques in a pool, and rescue techniques.
After a “light” breakfast we were off to the pool for the first time, Wow! The pool is amazing!
It’s a toasty 33˚ and beautifully clear, we were excited before we even got into the pool.
The day went really well, we were put through our paces learning the Basic Freediver course skills, which includes working on Static Apnea – breath-hold whist laying still ‘static’ face down, Dynamic Apnea – breathold whilst swimming horizontally, proper body positioning, and shallow water rescue skills.
We progressed onto the rest of the Freediver course in the afternoon, learning proper breath-up techniques, buddy skills for depth, and breathing at the end of each dive. Over the day we built up to get a Static hold of at least 90 seconds, and a Dynamic Apnea swim of 25m, and several dives to at least 10m, we build up to the deeper dives to prepare the body.
For me the hardest part of this first day was concentrating on quieting my mind to get into the correct mind-set for this very calm and quiet sport, learning how to relax your body and mind is extremely important to move forward in this sport.
We were allowed to play in the pool, and enjoy the facilities of the hotel pools, I think it’s safe to say Pash and I were like prunes by the end of the day. After a relaxing dinner with the rest of the group, we were ready for an early night.
Day Two: Building on day one, we were now to do some deeper dives, going for longer breath-holds and longer distances, with further rescue skills and buddy techniques. We were moving onto the Advanced course. By the end of the day, we had managed to achieve a breathe-hold of 2 mins:30 seconds, with a Dynamic swim of 50 metres.
Over the day we practiced lots of new skills, swimming up from 10m with only one fin, returning from 10m to the surface without a mask, and rescuing a diver from 10m, during this skill our instructor Kostas put us through our paces, during my rescue dive with him, he made it pretty hard, pretending to convulse three times on the way up, given that he is over 6’2” and built with muscles it was not an easy rescue simulation, however for me this was a great way to learn, just like the Rescue Diver course this prepares you for situations we hope never happen.
This side of the sport needs to be taken seriously and prepared for. We knew we were in really safe hands with the teaching team, we had 2 Instructor Trainers, Kostas and Rich, 2 Territory Directors with PADI UK, Jonas and Rich, and 3 Regional Managers, Emma, Emily and Mika, so we had lots of support.
(No pressure though… 😉 )
It was hard-work for sure on this second day, but every bit of it was great, overcoming my own fears of not being able to do the deep dive was my biggest block. After a couple of warm-up dives I managed to get to 20.3m, and Pash managed to smash it at 22.8m!! Fantastic!
I didn’t think I was going to do it as I cut short the first attempt and turned back up at 17m, but after a good talking to my self, and some relaxation breaths, I was determined to reach the required 20m.
I think it is safe to say that after the end of the second day, we were all pretty tired, but very happy with what we’d achieved. That evening we had a really entertaining dinner, what happened in Italy stays in Italy!!
Day Three: So today was the day for our teaching assessments, I was so nervous!
But we had nothing to worry about, the training team were great, they took us through the Instructor training with support and care. After our assessments we all had our individual meetings with the instructors, we were all thrilled to have passed our Instructor courses.
A few of us celebrated by getting to the bottom of the 40m section of the Y-40 pool… on scuba, which was great fun.
That evening we were lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the Y-40 facility by Giovanni Boaretto, the Executive Manager of Y-40, and the son of the Architect and owner of Y-40, we were fortunate to get an insight into how the pool was built, and how his dream of building the pool became a reality.
All in all, Pash and I had a great week, and are now ready to start teaching the Basic and the Freediver courses.