Jose Vega is a neurologist and past student of mine. He took his course to get over being uncomfortable in the open ocean. He has clearly overcome and now travels the world freediving in exotic locations and has worked with instructors all over the world. He recently published an article in the journal of applied physiology on the history of the dive reflex.
You can see a video of his diving from the competition below.
Here is his review of the course.
Up until a few years ago I felt great anxiety whenever I swam in the open ocean. I am still not sure about what fueled this irrational fear, but it often kept me away from boat trips. Then I moved to Miami for work back in 2010 and my open-water phobia became a recurrent nuisance. By summer of 2012 I had mustered enough guts to tackle the issue head on. As irrational as this sounds I figured that to shake off my fear I needed to fully immerse myself in the solution – pun intended – by taking a freediving course. I figured if I could learn to dive to 66 feet on one breath, my anxiety around the ocean would most likely become irrelevant in the process.
And I was right. I was careful in choosing a course because I knew I was going to need extra help to feel safe in the water. Luckily the web reviews showed pretty definitively that Ted Harty was the most experienced and the safest instructor in my area so I quickly registered for his three-day basic level course. From the first day of class I was pleased by Ted’s impressive command of freediving physiology. This was particularly reassuring because as a physician I wanted to get acquainted with that aspect of freediving. Then in the water the experience could not be safer. I really liked that Ted literally dropped all the way down right next to each student, every time. He duck dived and then crossed his arms over his chest as he finned down slowly, maintaining his face right in front of the student’s. He did this to look for signs of discomfort so that he could assist the student quickly should the need arise. He also occasionally made small gesticulations or hand movements to signal the student to relax, to dive slower or faster, or to keep proper body position during the dive. Then at the surface he enforced rigorous recovery breathing and pointed out what to improve upon during the next dive. It was impressive to see that even though he did this with every student, every time, he never got short-winded or less careful. These aspects of Ted’s teaching provided me with the kind of psychological reassurance I needed to get through the course.
After I completed Ted’s course I realized how liberating it was to be in the water. Freediving is now for me what yoga and meditation is for others. These days I like to travel to remote coastal destinations to get away from it all, experience new cultures and freedive in beautiful waters. Doing this has given me the opportunity to share the ocean with a variety of freediving instructors and safeties.
Just the other day I traveled to the Cayman Islands to do some training at PFI’s Dejablue 8 and ended up freediving with Ted one day. I was just doing some pull-downs to 100 feet, which I like to do with my eyes closed to get maximal relaxation out of the dive. During one of my dives I felt a presence in front of me at about 50 feet and I naturally opened my eyes to see what was out there. It was Ted. He kept his characteristically relaxed pose with arms crossed over his chest as he analyzed my dive. He stayed with me all the way down to a 100 feet and then all the way back up to the surface. After we finished our recovery breaths he gave me some very helpful teaching points. That brief dive reminded me how dedicated Ted is to freediving, and the huge difference it makes to dive with someone as knowledgeable, capable and dedicated as he is.
If you are reading this, chances are you are trying to find a freediving course. After my experiences with different instructors around the world I strongly recommend you take your course with Ted. I can say this without hesitation that you will be learning from one of the best instructors in the world.