If you dive with a lanyard you should read this.
Posted by TedHarty on April 18, 2012 · 0 Comments
Lanyard Entanglement and Freediving Lanyard Training
Any freediver who uses a lanyard has heard horror stories about divers who got stuck at some point during their dives due to their lanyards. I had a friend get stuck at 65 meters because the carabiner flipped the wrong way after his turn on the bottom. He came to a complete stop at 65 meters for about 2 seconds. He flipped the carabiner around and was able to start back up. He ended up having a blackout at around 60 feet.
Thanks to following great safety protocol, my friend came out of this mishap fine. But believe me, getting pulled to a screeching halt at 200+ feet will make your heart race, your adrenaline pump and have you thinking some very unpleasant thoughts!
After hearing my friend’s story, I started including getting my lanyard hung up on the plate as part of my visualizations of my own dives. (You do take time to visualize your dives, right)? I visualize turning at the plate, making one good kick and then getting stopped, and calmly pulling the release and swimming to the surface.
All those visualizations paid off when it finally happened to me. In 2011, I got hung up on the bottom plate at around the same depth my friend did. Sure enough, I grabbed the tag, made the turn and came to a screeching halt. When it happened I actually laughed underwater, because I had visualized this so many times. I easily popped the release, calmly swam to the surface, made my protocol and actually had an easy dive.
I was training one of my students Nick Mevoli, who is now the current US Record Holder in constant weight with a 91M dive, in Dean’s Blue hole earlier in 2012. I was discussing lanyard usage and came up with a great idea on how to simulate getting hung up on a lanyard. My first thought was to have the plate shallow, around 10-15 meters, and actually wrap the lanyard around the plate so it would get stuck and he would have to release the lanyard. But I had visions of the release failing and hearing the words, “Please explain to the court why you wrapped your student’s lanyard around the plate, ensuring he could not make it to the surface.” So I decided to try something else.
I told my student that when he did his pull down I was going to grab his lanyard, so when he started to pull up it would stop him and he’d have to release it. But I knew that was too fake, not a good duplication of real conditions. He knows I’m going to stop him and he knows he just has to release it. Then I had a better idea.
Throughout the day, during my student’s warm-ups and his actual dives (but not his PB dives), I would repeatedly grab his lanyard suddenly, bringing him to a halt, and he would have to release his lanyard and make it to the surface.
My student said this worked great. He said I always grabbed his lanyard when he least expected it, and it did in fact get his heart rate jumping the first few times. By the end of the day, releasing and surfacing had become an automatic reaction and it didn’t bother him at all. I still do a lot of coaching with this student, and for old time’s sake, I always grab his lanyard at least once during each training session. He always shakes his head at me, releases his lanyard and swims to the surface.
If you use a lanyard, it would be a very good idea for you to know what it feels like to be stopped by your lanyard and to pull the release with your eyes closed. My students can do it, and they are much safer for it.