Strategy 7: Approach as a Coach

Something was wrong. I had never felt such an extreme need to breathe on one of my ascents before. As my safety diver–coach came down to meet me at 50 feet, I signaled that I was not OK. When I finally broke the surface to take a huge breath, I coughed, felt a warm liquid in my mouth, and tasted the iron tang of blood. I grabbed the flotation buoy but couldn’t see the boat. I felt the darkening tunnel vision that precedes passing out—death in deep water. I applied the free-diving tools I’d taught myself to relax my body, calm my breathing, and slow my heart rate. Shifting the focus to my breath and away ...

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