Apnea can be a medical condition, such as sleep apnea
Apnea can also be intentional. Breathe in, and don't breathe out again for
several seconds or minutes. Developing this basic ability is particularly
useful for spending time underwater.
Obligatory Warning: Breath-hold diving is dangerous!
It should never be attempted without a reliable, trained partner. Practice in
air, know your limits, and don't push yourself to them. Apnea in
conjunction with deep diving is especially dangerous due to pressure
changes, which can lead to shallow water blackout.
Apnea is practiced competitively, with two broad divisions, dynamic
apnea (apnea while moving, that is, swimming) and static apnea (apnea while
staying still). Static apnea performance is measured in terms of time, while
dynamic apnea performance is measured in terms of distance traveled.
Like most sports, there are separate divisions for males and females;
males have an advantage due to their higher average lung volume. Official
records are those recognized by AIDA, the International Association for
the Development of Apnea.
The world records as of early June 2003 are:
6 minutes 16 seconds - static, female
8 minutes 6 seconds - static, male
150 meters - dynamic with fins, female
183 meters - dinamic with fins, male
95 meters - dynamic without fins, female
134 meters - dynamic without fins, male
One of the requirements for being a performing mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs water park is the ability to hold
your breath for 3 minutes (dynamic).
An effective way to rapidly develop apnea ability is by practicing timed
inhalations and exhalations on a daily basis. Exercises have been adapted
from the pranayama practices of Hatha Yoga for these purposes.
An apnea routine:
Breathe calmly and deeply. I find the best way to track actual seconds is by listening to a ticking clock. If no clock is handy, heartbeats or simply counting will suffice. As in any endeavor, it is helpful to keep records of your progress (maximum breath-hold time after the routine).
Inhale:Hold:Exhale (in seconds)
20 x 05:00:10
12 x 02:00:01
20 x 05:00:10
20 x 05:05:10
20 x 12:24:24
05 x 05:00:10
05 x 05:20:10