Simply starting to train without having a discussion on several important points and planning things out could leave you in the feeling confused in the middle of a training session, or worse, in an unsafe situation. Before you go jumping in the water and doing breath-holds with a new partner, consider going over the items below to keep your sessions safe and enjoyable, as well as productive.
Knowing your buddy’s training history and having your buddy know yours can provide a clear base to start working from once you get in the water. Discuss exactly what your objectives are, whether they are for static, dynamic, depth, monofin training, preparing for a competition, etc. Know each other’s PBs (personal bests) and discuss when contractions usually happen and how strong or shallow they are. Decide beforehand what exactly your goals are for these sessions, and verify that you can comfortably safety each other for the depths and distances the other person is aiming for.
Knowing someone’s limits is vital to keeping your training sessions safe. This means that there should be total honesty between the two of you if there have been any LMCs (loss of motor control), BOs (blackouts), or barotraumas in the past. Even mentioning that your lips were a bit blue on your last PB attempt can prepare the buddy for your next attempt, and let them know what they should watch out for. Any medical conditions that may be affected by freediving should absolutely be communicated to the other person.
Discuss if either you or your buddy are CPR/first aid certified and whether you plan on getting certified if you are not already. This is an extremely important certification to have, especially if you are diving somewhere secluded or more rural. Having 100% oxygen available or within reach at a nearby diving center would also be an excellent talking point amongst yourselves.
Does one person want to train variable weight? Is someone a particularly deep diver and needs an extra safety or counter ballast system? Does everyone have a lanyard or can you share one between the both of you? Talk over what equipment you will need on your dives and how the buoy can be set up so that everything is easily accessible and not a tangled mess.
Plan out different scenarios that can occur and discuss how you can overcome these situations in a safe manner. Work out the weather and sea conditions, whether there is a lot of boat traffic in the area if there are any fishing lines or nets in the water or potentially dangerous marine life in the area, and plan accordingly. Create an emergency safety plan if something does go amiss and you need to arrange an ambulance or quick transportation, and where the nearest hospital or hyperbaric chamber is.
Some freedivers prefer verbal communication while doing static, while others prefer non-verbal. Maybe one person specifically wants you to let them know that they have reached 3 minutes during a breath-hold, and communicate their time to them every 30 seconds after that. Discussing these types of communication beforehand can greatly reduce any confusion during performances. A great idea for depth training is to form a signal you both can recognize that will indicate to your buddy that you are having trouble when coming up from a dive, such as tilting your head from side to side or holding your arms out. That way, you can stop moving and your buddy can carry you to the surface, and you can avoid a potential BO or LMC and all of the psychological distress that comes with it.
Make your first training all about safety. Practice rescue from different depths, towing, and take turns jumping on the buoy and pulling up the line as fast as you can to simulate someone blacking out at a depth the other person cannot reach. The safer you feel and the more reliable your buddy is, the more confident you can feel while reaching for new PBs.