If you are looking for a Good way to increase your chances of having a Samba or Blacking out, I have one for you.
Two of my Dive partners have had some kind of Hypoxic event during the past 6 months. There was a similarity to both, and it got me thinking as to whether this may be a signifcant cause of Spearfishing blackouts which can be avoided if it is fresh in your mind.
One of these incidents involved a close friend who is a better diver than any of us. He can dive to 250' and back without fins. He trains allll the time. He eats super healthy, is in great shape. He's a world class freediver and a very high level Spearfisherman. The other is another close friend who doesn't dive so frequently maybe 1-2 times a month, but swims, surfs, does Jiu Jitsu regularly. Both are in good shape. Both have been diving for 20 years. Both are experienced Spearfishermen.
In both cases the diver was down on the bottom waiting, aspetto diving. In both cases the divers had been down waiting for a relatively long time. In one case the diver decided to go to the surface and about 10' up from the bottom spotted a fish and stopped and swam back down a few feet, stalked, and shot the fish. In the other case the diver missed a shot on a Fish towards the end of his breath on the bottom and started to surface, got a few feet off the bottom and realized his shaft Flopper was stuck on the reef and stopped and went back down to release it. In both cases the diver's return to the surface wasn't smooth. Diver one had his reel lock up and had to switch over to a Belt Reel. Diver #2 was carrying his shaft in one hand and his gun in the other with shooting line hanging down. Both Divers had hypoxic events several seconds after Surfacing. In both cases Strict Buddy Diving Protocol allowed for full recovery. In both cases, in the clear water, the Safety Diver/Buddy recognized the diver going back down as a potential danger and immediately dove to assist.
This is the point of this Thread.
1. Don't do it. Whether it's picking up your throw flasher, or unsticking your shaft, or you drop something, or going back down to get a fish which is tangled, or dropping back down to shoot at a fish. If you have been down a while and especially if you are diving deep ie over 30' of depth.. I'm not sure of the physiology, and why, but it's a good way to increase your chances of Samba/Blackout. Just leave it. Just leave it. Surface, and your partner can grab it for you after you have recovered.
2. If you see your buddy stop or reverse direction, or shoot a fish. Swim down. Meet them. Grab their gear. AND Keep a hand on them to the surface, and then for a while afterwards. And keep a close eye on them for 20-30 seconds.
Yesterday, I was diving with a buddy. He hasn't dove in a while and shot a nice fish 2 minutes after getting into the water in Shallow water. He was stoked. His confidence was high. We did some warm up dives to 20-30' and then moved out into deeper water. His first drop he was diving very well. 50-60' with good bottom time. His next drop was similar depth and his bottom time also good. Towards the end of his drop I saw him (the Water was Clear. 80-100' vis) shoot and miss a fish. He started up and then realized his shaft Flopper was stuck on the reef and he swam over and down to unstick it. At this point I made the decision to swim down and meet him because I didn't like that decision to go get the shaft. I would have done the same if he had hit a fish. So I dropped and met him @ 30' I saw him with both hands full one with spear and one with gun and I grabbed both in one hand, and grabbed him by the arm. We both surfaced together me looking him in the face. The whole time him giving me the OK. We surfaced. The first thing he did was not to take a series of deep recovery breaths. It was to say to me. "I'm Ok" He still had his hand doing this too. But I was a little suspicious and kept a hand on him. About 8 seconds later his face dropped into the water and he started shaking. I was right there hands on him so I held him up Told him to Breathe. Breathe, and he regained awareness and I swam him to the Buoy and put him on top of it.
A few months back I was diving with my two close friends BenzoSpeedo AKA Cheekmeats and Hans Roser. Ben is a worldclass diver and Ace Spearfisherman and runs FreediveHi.com Freediving school in Hawaii. Ben made a drop to 100+. He was on the bottom for well over a minute. He turned to surface and after a few feet he saw a nice fish (Turned out to be a 20lb Uku) which he stalked and shot. Then he turned to surface. I was already on my way down to meet him at 50'+ and grab his gun and Hans would stay up top and do Safety for Ben as he was surfacing. However..... Ben got a Reel snag Unforeseen Problem #1(he had not been careful respooling his on the previous 20lb Uku he had shot 30 minutes earlier and the line buried) So he was kicking harder and not moving much as the fish pulled. He wanted to keep it off the bottom which was a slope going past 150'. At this point I was about 30' down when my ear blocked... Unforeseen Problem #2. So I had to stay at 30-35' while watching Ben moving tooo slowly towards the surface. I was pointing at my Ear hoping Hans would understand, but he didn't. Ben clipped his gun off to his Belt Reel and started to swim much faster towards the surface. As he got near me I grabbed the line and started fighting the fish taking all pressure off of Ben. Hans swam down and swam with Ben up to the Surface. A few seconds later Ben was like a Drunken Sailor. But Hans was right there to support him.
Here in Hawaii we have the advantage of the Water being Clear, and in these cases no real current. Strict Buddy Diving Protocol saves the day. Be aggressive in your buddy diving. If your diving deeper, be an arms length away every time and spend the extra time on the surface with your partner until they have truly recovered ie 20-30 seconds. Talk about this stuff with your Buddy before diving. If you are diving and you're not happy with what they are doing, say something. If they are not doing a Great Job. Dump em. Only takes once. They need to be getting it 100% of the time. If you get dumped.. recognize why. Diving in 3's is a good way to go for deeper diving. Share your catch with your dive buddies. It's a Team effort from start to finish.
It makes me think back to SEAL. Kosta's gun was found shaft out. What I now think probably happened was that he may have done something like this to try to retrieve a shaft or fish so he didn't need to swim back for it against a current.