I was looking at some very awesome cave diving pictures last week and one in particular caught my attention not because of the picture itself but because of the story behind it:
The diver in this photo has descended about 20 feet into the opening of Devil’s Eye Spring. Without carrying breathing gas, free divers can usually swim down only about 40 to 45 feet, but Heinerth says that a few brave souls venture further. “In Russia, I met a guy who they nicknamed ‘Aqua Man,’” she said. “In water temperature just above freezing, Aqua Man would put on a wetsuit, enter the cave, and swim a couple of hundred feet before surfacing to sip from an air pocket on the ceiling of the cave. Then he’d free dive even further in, eventually getting 300 feet into the cave with no air. He was free diving by leap-frogging from air pocket to air pocket inside the cave.” Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
Obviously there’s no such thing as Aqua Man but clearly this person is called such for the feat he accomplishes. Any skilled diver can stay underwater longer by swimming from air pocket to air pocket, but because of the uncertainty of the unknown (as well as the chill) nobody is likely to try it in a cave.
What separates Aqua Man from the rest is his mental preparation. How do I know this?
Because Aqua Man has the same abilities that the other divers have, mainly to be a competent swimmer and have great control of respiration.
The ability to stay underwater and dive to depths both you and I can’t go isn’t a talent. It’s preparing your body, your mind through constant practice and then being curious as to what he might find inside the cave,
What the other divers overlooked was that there might be air pockets inside the cave. They just couldn’t see beyond their own fear!
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Key takeaway: You don’t leapfrogg the competition by beating them at their own game, you beat them by doing something they can’t do. Sometimes what they ‘can’t do’ is a fear and most of the time it’s something they’re overlooking. Exploit it!