July 22, 2017
Freediving with Jean-Pol Francois of Freediving-Planet
Location : Freediving-Planet, Panagsama Beach, Basdiot, Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
Jean-Pol Francois (JP) has over 27 years of freediving experience and has taught top athletes to be on top of their game. He holds some national and world records and remains an active competitor and member of the Belgian National Team. His personal best is 94m on a sled. To put this in perspective, that's like the height of a 28-storie building! In a world championship competition in Egypt, he met Jacques Mayol, 8-time No-Limits world champion. His career highlight was swimming with the dolphins in the wild for 20 minutes going to depths of 15m.
Now in Moalboal with his freedive shop, Freediving-Planet, I get to learn from the teacher himself.
I showed up at 8:45am as instructed. After filling-up a few forms, I got geared-up with my own gear and ready to go. I always use my normal snorkeling fins, but JP gave me freediving-specific fins to use - the long narrow ones that have become increasingly popular lately. This is also the first time I had a lanyard for the buoy line. I had a little apprehension using new gear I'm not accustomed to, but I appreciate it as the proper gear. As my former yoga teacher once said, "adapt or perish!".
Because of Moalboal's abysmal depths just meters away from the shore, we weren't too far out. We could have stationed closer but there were too many tour boats anchored - it was a weekend. The current was strong. Visibility was poor but it didn't matter - it was all blue in any direction except when looking up. Water was warm and the sun was up.
The Dive Crew
We were 6 pax altogether on two buoys. I didn't know anyone except for JP whom I've met less than 24 hours earlier. Everyone was at the intermediate level, comfortable to 40m depths. I was the only newbie - the excited 18m kid on the block. I was unfazed. Afterall, I didn't come to compete. The way I saw it, aside from JP, I had 4 other teachers to learn from. How cool is that?
The first three dives, we all took turns on Free Immersion (use of a rope to pull down during a descent and again up on ascent, no finning). This is where I have the greatest ease. It was a warm-up. Looking down on my companions, I already noticed a few differences in our styles. After every dive, JP would take the time to comment and critically assess the performance of the diver and point out areas for increased efficiency. This should now be corrected on the succeeding dive.
It is interesting to note that while we were on the buoy, there was one big fish (Jack?) circling around the rope at about 12m. It was already deep but it still looked big, so it must have been really big!
Constant Weight Freediving
When fully warmed-up with the Free Immersion, we then continued with Constant Weight Freediving (finning down and up, holding the rope only to stop and begin the ascent). Finning required more effort than pulling on the rope, hence, increased fatigue resulting in shorter down time. Using the rope as a visual guide (instead of actually pulling on it) and a strong current to contend with, I got disoriented on the initial attempt. JP had to signal me to abort and come up. Again, he gave me specific instructions on what to do - add more amplitude on my finning, don't look up and to stay close to the rope with constant eye contact on it. I did much better the second time around.
Lastly, we did Rescue. My training was slightly different from their ways, so when I tried to adapt to their style (on the spot), I felt the learning curve. Good thing is, this is something I can practice with a friend on dry land.
This was the last exercise. I was glad. After being on the water for 2.5 hours on just a rash-guard, I was already cold with my calf cramping from the rescue exercise.
The practice was only 2.5 hours but I learned a lot - from the actual experience and JP's analytical coaching. Like a veteran teacher who has seen students come and go, he wasn't after depth in this practice. He wanted us to perfect our technique first - and that made a lot of sense. With good techique comes increased confidence and increased ability to meet the challenge. The depth will always be there for the taking when the time is right.
Thank you JP and thank you, Freediving-Planet!
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
ps - If you want me to objectively write about a freedive experience in your dive shop, email me.
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Freediving Pescador Island with Seaquest Dive Center(Aug 13, 2017) Pescador Island is practically a pencil-shaped island sticking out of the ocean floor going down 40m. It has a vivid coral reef in the shallows for snorkelers, a vertical plunge into the deep blue for freedivers and its walls offer a visual parade to scuba divers. You can't get enough of Pescador Island, just a stone's throw from the main Moalboal peninsula...more »»
Freedive Training Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Freediving with Jean Pol Francois of Freediving-Planet July 22, 2017
- Freediving with Ben Meerhaeghe at SeaQuest Dive Center June 16, 2017
- Freediving Certification Course in Apo Island with Jean-Jacques Gautier of Plongeurs du Monde Apr 11-22, 2017
Moalboal Google Map
Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
Travel Tips about Moalboal
- money changer - there are 2 money changes here in Panagsama Beach - Saavedra Cottages and the small store in front of Cora's Cottages. They both offer dismal rates. Best exchange rate is at Gaisano Moalboal town center (bring an ID!!!) followed by M. Lhuillier, then Palawan
- weather - even though it might be raining cats-and-dogs in Cebu City or in Negros Oriental, the sun is likely to be out in Moalboal. It only rains there if there is an actual monsoon. So don't let that rain scare you off from your dive trip.
- tricycle - rides could end up pricey if you don't plan for it. Best to get a price established with a tricycle or motorcycle driver as you arrive (usually P50/pax for single motorcycle ride and P100/trip for a tricycle) to White Beach. Then arrange for a date/time pick-up from your resort at that same price rate (otherwise you will end up paying for a round trip)
- folding bike - if you really want to save up on tricycle fare (which could seriously add up if you keep going back and forth from Panagsama - White Beach), bring a folding bike with you. A folding bike fits in the under-belly of a Ceres bus
- Town Center to Panagsama Beach - if you want to pay the local rate (not tourist rate) of P10/pax from Town Center to Panagsama Beach, take the tricycle behind Three Sixty Pharmacy. The tricycle will wait until its full before taking off. Tell the driver you're going to "Baybay". On the way back, from Panagsama Beach to Town Center, walk a bit here and board the local tricycle. It will wait again to fill up before taking off. Best to pay the tricycle driver while awaiting for other passengers. That way, he can't charge you tourist fare when you alight.
- Town Center to White Beach - local tricycle rate is P25/pax beside Three Sixty Pharmacy. You should see tricycles with painted signboard, "White Beach". Tell the driver you're going to "Basdaku"
How to get to Moalboal from Dumaguete:
- From Dumaguete, take a bus or jeep going north and ask to be dropped-off at the Sibulan Town Proper (~P10, 10 mins). Take the short walk to the pier.
- Take either the pumpboat or fastcraft to Liloan, Cebu (~P50, 30 mins)
- From the Liloan port, take a tricycle to the Bato Bus Terminal (~P20 if shared, 10 mins)
- From the terminal, take the Cebu City bus via Barili and ask to dropped-off to Moalboal Town Proper (P70, ~2 hours)
How to get to Moalboal from Cebu City:
- take a Ceres Bus at the South Bus Terminal going to Bato (make sure its via Barili) and get off at the Moalboal Town Center - 3 hours, P130 (aircon)
- From Town Center, take a tricycle to your resort. Town Center to Panagsama Beach (~P50 if no other passenger, 10 mins).
»» next story:
Settling-in at Moalboal Poblacion
»» next Freediving story: Freediving Pescador Island with Seaquest Dive Center
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