Kateryna Sadurska

The Freedive Café Podcast | Episode #153 | Transcript

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KATERYNA SADURSKA

The Freedive Café Podcast | Episode #153 | Transcript

 

Kateryna Sadurska is a world record holding freediving athlete from Ukraine. Kate joined me at The Little Blue in Dahab to discuss her amazing 2023, how she trained for those huge dives and how her philosophy of freediving is evolving.

Kate first appeared on Episode #139 of the podcast.

 

[Kate] 

It looks like you just took a random tourist from Dahab to have a talk. 

[Donny] 

You know what you look like? You look very 80s with the hair and the sunglasses. You look like the star of a kids TV program when I was in the 90s or something like that. 

And it’s very cool. It’s very cool. And I think that more world record freedivers should have a bit of style, a bit of class and a bit of funkiness about them too. 

Katerina Sadurska, welcome back to the Freedive Café. Really nice to have you here. 

[Kate]

Really nice to be back. 

[Donny] 

And this is the first time that we’re ever having an interview in what is my new space in Dahab. I think you guys should be able to see that we have a pretty amazing location here over the lighthouse bay in Dahab. The weather is absolutely shockingly beautiful right now. 

We can see Saudi Arabia out there. , and also I guess this is the Freedive Café. We got some tea. 

[Kate] 

Bedouin tea!

[Donny] 

Which is fitting for the Freedive Café in Dahab. I’m a little bit too jacked up on coffee already to have something, so I’m going to stick to water. So, welcome back to the Freedive Café, episode 153, Kate. 

Congratulations on the amazing year that you had. Like I was saying to you the last time we spoke, there was such a lot of shit going on in the freediving world this year, a lot of scandal and a lot of negative issues in the community and with the organizations and the competitions and so forth. But the highlight of my year was watching your incredible, elegant, no-fins dives, breaking world records, coming up clean, smiling, which I think is how a deep freedive should be done. 

And how has it been for you this year?

[Kate]

Thank you. It’s nice to hear this feedback. It motivates me also. 

And the year was quite hard. And, actually, these things you were talking about, which were happening in the freediving community, they didn’t affect me much, because comparing to what I was experiencing… 

[Donny]

You have bigger issues at home, right? 

[Kate] 

Yes, so the perspective, I have quite a big one on what is happening in general in life. So for me it was something happening in the small, very small community, like, comparing to something which is more important for me. Like, the people’s life is more important than… 

[Donny]

I understand that, and I understand that there’s a much bigger issue for you. 

[Kate] 

But also, maybe because it was happening right before the competition and during the competition, so maybe I even didn’t get the chance to be involved that much, because I wanted to be focused on my dives and to use the energy for that, and I was already in the competitive mode for a few months so maybe I wasn’t involved enough. 

[Donny] 

Well, that’s good. It’s good not to be involved in that shit, because it’s not gonna do you any good to be getting involved in it. But just remind us, you had a really good VB, and you got a world record in VB, right? 

[Kate] 

A few!

[Donny] 

You have to remind me about this again, because my memory is terrible, and I don’t have Jory anymore to tell me about records. And then you went to Roatan for the CMAS World Championships, where you also got the CMAS World Record in no fins. Was it a… 

what were the depths? 79? 

[Kate]

78.

[Donny] 

78 for both competitions? 

[Kate] 

No, so in VB I started from the Aida world record with 74 meters, then I did 76 and 77, and I finished. Maybe if there would be another week in VB, who knows where would I end? But in Roatan I did 78, and I already felt, okay, it’s enough for this year, because it was quite exhausting. 

[Donny] 

Well, looking forward to 80 next year. 

[Kate] 

We’ll see. 

[Donny] 

Since you didn’t go to Cyprus, after Roatan you went back to Ukraine? 

[Kate] 

Yes, I was back to Ukraine for three weeks. It was a very intense time. I was talking about freediving, like, the whole day, every day, because I was giving a lot of interviews. 

It was quite a big deal in Ukraine. I think everybody saw some of my dives and was very inspired, and it went quite viral in my country, especially the last dive, because it was done on the Independence Day of Ukraine, which is a very important day for us. So it was a lot of attention. 

I was actually not ready for that, so it was another thing I had to deal with after VB, before Roatan, and after Roatan. And still I’m trying to adapt to this new role, being a world record holder, something new for me. So I also did a few courses, because people are getting more interested in learning freediving, and I made kind of a tour in Ukraine. 

I did a course in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv, and it was quite intense. And then I went to Kalamata. I wanted to finish the season with some easy dives and to play a bit with the monofin, because it was traveling with me to the other part of the world, and I had just one dive. 

It was quite expensive, one dive, because I had to pay extra for every baggage I had, every luggage. So I did my 100m, like this magical number for freedivers. 

[Donny] 

Okay, so you did your first 100 metres also in Kalamata?

[Kate] 

Yes, but in training, for me it was enough. I didn’t… So, actually, for me it was not ideal to do it in the training or in the competition, because I wanted to do it for myself. 

So I’m very happy, and I have some thoughts on what to work on for the next season.

[Donny] 

Well, congratulations. I can’t remember you telling me that. Whatever people say about numbers, and I’m not a big fan of numbers. One hundred is still a very significant number, and if there’s one number I think that you’re going to celebrate, it’s going to be that one. 

So, you’re in Dahab now. You just came out the water, your hair is still wet from teaching. Was this also a Ukrainian student that you brought to Dahab? 

[Kate] 

Yes, there were Ukrainians. One girl, which I’m coaching online in the pool, and sometimes she’s coming to have some depth training with me, and other girls who also will join us, they will come for the depth part of the course, because in Ukraine we don’t have much opportunity to do that. So people come here if they can. 

[Donny]

Well, it must be quite a hell of a nice break for them right now as well. 

[Kate] 

So now actually I’m trying to combine my base training and teaching, but it’s not working. Somebody asked me about the balance between training and teaching, and it’s actually impossible. You need to choose what is more important for you, and now for me this is more important.

I consciously take this time to play around, to take it easy, to enjoy being in the water and sharing my experience, and from December I start more focused training. 

[Donny] 

But I guess that at this point, I mean, I’m just guessing at this point, you probably feel like having a break anyway from the deep freediving, right? 

[Kate] 

For sure. For sure I will not go deep for a few months, because what I realized, you really need to keep that hunger to go deep, because when I started I was very hungry and progressed pretty fast when I had the opportunity to be in the sea. But when you spend a lot of time and do many deep dives, especially CNF, which is quite exhausting, these breaks in between, they mean maybe even more than the training itself. 

[Donny] 

And in Dahab this time you also did some workshop with Stefan (Randig), you did some no fins workshops, how was that? 

[Kate] 

Oh, it was amazing, actually. It was my first workshop and it was a great pleasure to work with Stefan. He has a much bigger experience in teaching. 

It was, I think, a good combination of our knowledge and experience and energy, it seems like everybody was happy, including instructors. 

[Donny] 

I think that living in Dahab and knowing Stefan, I don’t think there’s anybody else other than Stefan who epitomises an athlete more than him. He’s really the one guy who is training, following plans, very diligent, very disciplined, has his ups and downs, but he’s such an amazing individual. And I think it’s also really important to mention at this point that I’m actually older than Stefan by a couple of years, he’s my junior. (Long running joke between Stefan and I!)

It’s important that we mention this every time that his name comes up on the Freedive Café. Love you, Stefan. 

Okay, so I wanted to focus a little bit this time on your training. 

I watched a lot of the dives from the competitions, I saw a lot of people going deep this year. I feel like there weren’t many beautiful performances, there weren’t many technically inspiring performances, but yours definitely were. A year or two ago you were still struggling with equalisation a little bit. 

[Kate]

Still. A little bit, but a bit deeper. 

[Donny] 

Because I didn’t know that you’d gone to 100, and one of the questions about equalisation I wanted to ask was, was your decision to focus on no fins partly to do with the fact that you couldn’t equalise deeper than that depth, but it seems like you’ve overcome some equalisation issue, right? I mean from 80 to 100 is quite a big jump. 

[Kate] 

I just had not enough time to get back to my depth this year, because the plan was to go to the pool world championship in Kuwait and then start training in depth, and actually VB was quite a question. And we didn’t go to world championships because of our boycott, because Russian athletes were allowed to compete. 

[Donny] 

So Russian athletes were allowed to compete again in this competition, and you as a Ukrainian team… 

[Kate] 

Yes, and the decision of our government was to boycott those competitions, to have some chance to change that, because it’s something bigger than just a sport. So, we took this decision. It was hard, because the season itself, the whole preparation was in Kharkiv. 

After Kas I stayed in Ukraine almost all the time, like seven months, and it was tough. 

[Donny]

It’s like an active war zone, essentially.

[Kate] 

Yes, it was hard to recover, hard mentally. And when I came back to depth in the beginning of June, I realised how much stress I have. I had a panic attack on the first of my dives, which I never experienced before. 

And I was very surprised, and I actually had no clue what this year was going to bring, so it took me some time to get back, and after this one month in Eilat, I got back to some feeling, but it was not perfect, for sure. And, I was mostly focusing on CNF, and playing a bit with free immersion, just to get back to my equalisation. 

But it was just one month, and I was stressed, I was tensed, it was not perfect. And I was experimenting with new things, and I was turning before 80, around 80 all the time. And my PB was 92 last year, and I was a bit upset, like I forgot how to equalise. 

And when I came to Vertical Blue, it was actually the same, I was turning at 80. And, when the competition started, maybe this competitive mode worked, and I focused a bit more, and already some time passed, I adapted. And, I went to 85, it was really hard at the end, but I did it. 

And somehow it built up my confidence, and allowed me to go to 88 at the end of the comp. But still, it was not my level. And when I arrived in Roatan, I didn’t have any expectations, and I was tired after VB. 

I didn’t want to compete at all, because I was already feeling fulfilled, and realised my potential. I did my main thing I wanted to do, I reminded people about Ukraine. But somehow things started to work, and I was playing with FIM too. 

I did my 92, then a bit more, and then I was struggling with 95. I turned a bit early a few times, and then I said, I just put a bit more, and it worked. And on the computer it was a bit more, so I felt like, ok, it’s working. 

And actually during the competition, when I announced 97, my alarms didn’t work. 

[Donny]

Oh really?

[Kate] 

I started, and I usually have some alarm at 10, just to understand where I am. I do the first charge there, and there was nothing. I did something, and then I realised, ok, there is nothing, it’s going to work. 

And I had to take a decision, will I turn, or try to do something. I chose the second option, and it felt amazing. The dive was beautiful, I had some air left when I reached the bottom. 

Somehow the alarm started to work at 80. Thank you, but it’s quite late!

[Donny] 

I don’t use a computer anymore, or alarms, and I think it’s the future. I think that we should experience the dive more deeply, and feel more deeply. And you feel where you are, you feel what you feel. 

And also, I think that every day we are a little bit different, we wake up with a little bit of a different condition. Maybe we need to pull a little bit deeper today, maybe we need to go into freefall a little bit earlier today. So I’m on this one-man mission to discourage people from buying computers. 

[Kate] 

It’s actually an interesting idea, because also I don’t always stick to the same plan. And if I even have the alarms, I also wait for the right feeling more than, okay, I need to do it right now, and it creates too much tension, especially if you are not ready yet. So, I usually try to set alarms a bit earlier, so I have some time to do the charge, the proper one. 

[Donny] 

All right, so compared to the last year, and obviously I know every year is different, and there’s a lot going on in Ukraine, and you can’t choose to have this perfect situation where you train at certain times in exactly the way that you want, and you don’t have the funds to be in the place that you want to be, etc, etc. But what is the biggest change this year in terms of your training compared to last year, if there has been any? 

[Kate]

I started to train comparing to last year!

[Donny]

Right, okay. Starting to train was a major leap forward for you!

[Kate]

Because last year I was working as a safety at Freediving World Sharm. 

[Donny]

Your rise has been pretty fast.

[Kate] 

So I just realised my potential, which I had already, just fixed some equalisation, and this year it was more planned, focused training, and I finally started to work with a coach, with Samo Jeranko, and it was tough. 

[Donny]

I hear Samo is a little bit of a taskmaster, like he’s pretty strict. 

[Kate] 

Yes, but it’s like in the beginning of the season when this base training was just started to work, and I really felt that finally the recovery means a lot, that I need the recovery, because before I could do any training, and do another one, another one, and like it was quite easy. And yes, we added some gym, which was some new thing for me, and of course I’m not good in the beginning, and still a lot of things to improve, so I had this thought, okay, I’m again in this professional sports, do I really want it? 

Because it was too much in my life, and here it is again, working hard and dedicating yourself, and taking your time from other stuff. 

[Donny] 

So previously you were in, you know, even in the Olympics, as a synchronised swimmer, so you’d already had this long background as a professional athlete, which if you haven’t heard Kate’s story before…

[Kate] 

Yes, this lifestyle I’m pretty familiar with, and actually I really wanted some other things to do in life, and that’s why I was keeping freediving as a hobby as long as I could, but it seems like life has different plans. 

[Donny] 

You’re just too awesome, you’re just too awesome an athlete. After this you’ll become an alpinist and climb Everest or something like that. 

[Kate]

No, no, no, no. Maybe I have another challenge to build a normal life. 

[Donny] 

To build a normal life, that’s the biggest challenge of all, isn’t it? So I was gonna ask you if you had a coach, so now I know that you worked with Samo, I wasn’t sure if that was from the beginning of the year, but did you get into your mind at some point that you were going to train specifically for the No Fins World Record? Was that a goal that you had, or was it something that just happened naturally as you got deeper, that it just happened, or did you say, okay, I can do the World Record, I need to train for it, this is what we’re gonna do. Did you work on that with Samo? 

[Kate] 

Actually, this thought about the World Record, it appeared even earlier, in Sharm. Somebody told me, why don’t you go for a World Record, because I did quite easy, like 67 and then I did 70, and you know, this seed, somebody put in my head, and then I was thinking about it, and I felt that it’s possible, because I still was in Kas when I did 70, at least the setup was not for the World Record, I was overweighted, I had a thick wetsuit, and even if I would change this little detail, I already could do the same, or a bit more than 70, so I already would be deeper, so at least these adjustments could be done, but about this World Record itself…I usually don’t put the pressure on myself, oh, I need to do the World Record, but since this thing with the boycott came out, and I didn’t know if I can compete this year at all, but it felt so hard and so unfair, and it also added some tension in the training, and I really wanted to show up at least at some competition, and it’s good that we have this opportunity to do World Record attempts, separately, not in the competition, and I already paid the Vertical Blue fee, and I asked William if nothing is going to change, can I come and just do my World Record attempt, at least AIDA? I felt that it’s possible, the water should be warmer, I can use a different suit, and it felt doable, so it was like a plan B, actually plan A, just to go there and try to do something, so we started to focus on no fins, and I also was doing DNF in the pool. 

[Donny]

Had you previously had a good result in DNF in the pool? 

[Kate]

I did 171m in the pool last year, it was quite enough I think. 

[Donny] 

So I’m interested in how you and Samo decided to periodise the training, leading up to these biggest dives of the year, how much time did you have? Did you have 3 months, 6 months, how did you break it down? Did Samo bring in a lot of strength training in the beginning, and then move into more apnea as the block went on, was it a very structured periodisation like this, or was it a bit more messy? 

[Kate] 

From Samo’s side it was structured, and from mine obviously it was messy, because I still wanted to combine everything, doing pool, coaching, and travelling sometimes, and I’m not the best student to be honest. The strength training was there in some proportion all the time, and you have to maintain it till the end. 

[Donny] 

So when you do strength training, are you working with the barbell, pull-ups, or are you working more bodyweight training, or powerlifting? 

[Kate] 

We combined both, so it’s nothing really special, nothing you haven’t heard, it’s just some compound movements. 

[Donny] 

We need to know what the secret exercise is, the one secret exercise, especially for the leg kick, we’re going to come back to that later. In terms of the strength training part, you’re just doing regular strength training, exercises of various kinds, but did you look at specific muscles for no fins, and then target them, or was it a much more full body thing the whole time? 

[Kate] 

It was actually a full body thing, and of course the upper body for the arm stroke, but also I feel that even if I wasn’t doing the maximum he was giving me, for me, for somebody who hasn’t done anything before, even this small change, it gave a lot, I felt so much stronger in the pool, even if I went to the gym and I felt myself so bad comparing to all those people, like they’re pushing a lot, and I’m in the very beginning of my journey in the gym.

[Donny] 

Next time we’re going to have an arm wrestling competition!

[Kate] 

But it’s actually very nice, you come back to the ground, you have still so many things to improve, and it gives this perspective I really like. 

[Donny] 

And they call that in English, you know the expression ‘newbie gains’, like when you start strength training for the first time, it can be pretty profound, like you didn’t realise before that you could be strong, and you could be that strong, and it’s so important, isn’t it? I think it’s quite a neglected part of freediving training, more and more people understand that, but for me recently one of the hardest things has been that I haven’t been able to do the strength training, and I’ve lost a lot of that strength, and one week ago, so stupid, before the competition one week ago I tried I did a workout, because I just really needed to do a workout, and then every dive for three days was just like suffering the pain and the muscles and everything, so don’t be an idiot like me and try to launch into a workout a week before a competition. 

[Kate] 

You need to do it a bit before. But also when you’re just starting, even working on the proper technique, it already gives you so much more awareness about how your body should move, and then so much more confidence in the water, you just feel strong, it’s such a nice feeling. And I think for me also this gym, it helped to feel more psychologically stable, because last year when I just came back from Kas to home, it was a lot like a big rollercoaster, ups and downs with emotional parts, and it took me a few months to adapt, just to adapt to life. 

But the more I was doing the gym, I felt like maybe my hormonal system was more balanced. 

[Donny] 

You get the hormonal regulation, you get the neurotransmitters, the endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, and your body, we are meant to be moving and lifting and jumping and flipping and spinning, and when we don’t do that, we don’t feel good. And we might not even realize we don’t feel good, because we’ve never done that, and then we start training and you see the benefits. 

[Kate] 

When I was a synchronised swimmer, we didn’t pay much attention to this part. We did some body workouts, a bit of weights, but it was not like lifting. 

[Donny] 

Was that because they didn’t see the value or because they were worried that you would put on too much muscle?

[Kate]

Both. Maybe the gaining muscle was the biggest… 

[Donny]

Right, you had to look feminine and elegant. 

[Kate] 

But when I started to do this, I felt like, when I stop doing freediving, I will maintain the gym, because it’s so necessary in our life, just to feel good. 

[Donny] 

And then, would you do specific work for your heart, let’s say cardio, separate from pool training? Would you do sprints, running sprints, cycling sprints, anything like that? 

[Kate]

No, I didn’t do that. 

[Donny]

No vote for sprints then.

[Kate]

Maybe because of my background…

[Donny]

You have such a solid foundation already in the pool, right? 

[Kate]

And I think Samo knew that, adjusting it to the person.

[Donny] 

He’s smart enough to realize what you need, I guess. Look, obviously I put out the word that I was having this conversation with you, and if anyone had any questions, and now everybody wants to know specific exercises for no fins. No fins is the most technical, the most difficult, the most challenging of all the freediving disciplines. 

I mean, I was diving relatively deep, and then anytime I switch my attention to no fins, I feel like I’m basically a cow that’s been dropped in the water, especially in the first few dives. But what are the key points for someone to focus on when they are trying to learn no fins, and they realise how challenging it is, break it down into what areas you should focus on.

[Kate] 

Technique. For me, it’s the most important part. If I’m going deep but I look ugly, I would be not satisfied with my dive. 

But if I go a bit shallower and it looks nice, maybe it’s from my synchronised training background, I have some extra points for execution from myself. 

[Donny]

What you say there is that you are kind of equating the beauty and elegance of the dive with good technique. And I love that, because I think that’s something that people might forget sometimes. It’s something Aaron Solomons said to me, he has quite a controversial character, and he was talking about how he laments that there’s not enough freedivers that focus on the grace of the dive, how beautiful the dive is. 

That might sound like a romantic idea, but of course when we see beautiful, graceful diving, what we’re seeing is technique coming as close to perfection as possible. But how much of that technique do you need to drill, drill, drill, drill, drill in the pool? Or are you only focusing on depth? 

Or how much is finding these little secrets? Is it just constant drilling? 

[Kate] 

It’s drilling and finding your own way to do this, because of course everybody has a different background, has a different body. And of course, maybe my technique is not going to suit everyone. So you need to find your best way to move in the water and to make it automatic. 

So you’re not going to think about it when you’re in the water. Your body just will move you and you can focus on other things like relaxation. So I’m really a fan of pool training. 

I would recommend it. And I think many deep freedivers have to do this. Because simply you cannot do so many repetitions in depth. 

And in the pool you can do a lot. Because actually the good technique, this is the thing which brings you down and back, it’s just the work. 

[Donny] 

Right, ok, we need to know the specific dry exercises for the leg kick. Please tell us what it is. 

[Kate] 

From the beginning you should understand the mechanics of movement. And maybe not to bring your legs too wide. And still stay comfortable. I don’t know which specific drill to give you!

[Donny] 

I think people want to see you saying, stand up, do this, three times ten. I know it doesn’t work like that. I’m obviously a dumbass and I’m also not a very good no fins diver. But the only thing that got me moving through the water in the pool was someone forcing me to do 10 times 50 no fins. When I had never done even a 50m no fins before, they just forced me to do it. 

[Kate] 

And imagine if you would do this for a year. 

[Donny] 

Exactly. And then I suffered, but by the 7th dive I was like, ok, a couple of those leg kicks, I actually felt something different. 

Like I caught the water, I felt that I really caught it. And it was maybe 1 in 10 leg kicks, I got that. But you start to program your body to recognise that feeling and then it becomes more subconscious, right? 

[Kate] 

Yes, more useful would be to play in the pool, to do just the leg kicks or just the arm kicks together and to do as less cycles as you can per lap. 

[Donny] 

That’s kind of fun as well, right? If you gamify it a little bit to make the challenge, how few cycles can I do in a 25m pool? 

[Kate] 

Yes, and also you will start to feel the glide a bit more and which movement exactly gives you more propulsion and more glide. You will start to be more aware of what you’re doing because when you go to depth, you have this extra buoyancy in the beginning and you’re already suffering on the way up. So, usually technique is the last thing people think about and in the pool you can really focus on that. 

[Donny]

Buoyancy is incredibly important as well in no fins, right? 

[Kate]

Yes.

[Donny] 

But also in the depth, it fascinates me as well, and I think you can tell me how important having the minimal thickness of wetsuit is, that we don’t have that change of buoyancy from the top and the bottom. 

[Kate] 

And we don’t need to carry so much weight. Last year I had 2.0 and 1.4 kilos. And this year I had 1.0 and 0.75. And I think it’s not the main thing, but it changed a lot. I had so much more pleasure doing that and I didn’t think about going up at all. 

[Donny] 

Do you think that a lot of people might actually miss this point, that if they’re doing their no fins dives and they’re in a 3mm wetsuit and maybe they’re wearing like 2 kilos and they’re really struggling on the first part of the ascent, that they think it’s their physical condition or their technique is the problem, that they’re getting so tired, but maybe if they adjusted their wetsuit thickness it could make a massive difference? 

[Kate] 

Yes, of course it will make a massive difference. But also if you can do it in a 3mm wetsuit, when you switch to the thinner one, it will make so much difference. 

[Donny]

You’re going to be a total badass. 

[Kate] 

Yes, so this first part, it really depends on how effective is your duck dive, also the thing to work on. People are so focused on going down, they forget about the basics. So in the end, there is not much of a secret, it’s just paying attention to every part of the dive and trying to make it better and that’s all. 

[Donny] 

Okay, I’m going to watch more videos of you and copy you and see how we get on. 

How careful have you been with your diet and your nutrition this year? Have you followed a specific protocol or is it not a major thing for you? 

[Kate] 

No, it’s not a major thing for me, but it could be better, of course. Obviously it was more healthy than last year, I really tried to keep the balance. 

[Donny]

Do you drink alcohol as well? 

[Kate] 

Yeah, sometimes. It’s the balance, you know. But not much and of course closer to the competition I excluded it.

But, you know, in our sports we need this mental part to be okay and sometimes this socialisation, going with some good glass of wine can help so much more than having a strict diet. So, I try to make it as easy as possible, because I also had this experience of being vegan for four years and when I started to eat meat again, this feeling that I have so much more options in my life, so much more freedom, it made me feel much better than the excluding of animal products completely. So, I try to make it easy. 

[Donny] 

I was also fully plant-based for I think about three years and I really tried and I would love to be able to do that again, but for me it was so much hard work. I was also doing long distance trail as well, so I was trying to get like four or five thousand calories a day, sometimes just from a lot of plant-based foods. And when I switched back to meat I really just felt a relief that I was able to eat more efficiently. 

[Kate] 

And there’s so many more options. But life can be different, you know. 

And many animals eat animals and of course I would like to avoid that, but, this is how it is. And sometimes I’m doing like some vegan diet on purpose. For example, if I feel that I’m getting a bit sick, I try to make it lighter. 

And also, I don’t know, for me, just keeping the balance, the balanced diet, being vegan and traveling, it’s very hard. Because if you stay at one place and you cook yourself, it’s one thing, but… 

[Donny] 

Like if you went to Sharm and you stayed at one of those hotels and you only had the option of the menu from the hotel, like if they didn’t have… 

[Kate]

They don’t care about vegans at all.

Like I’m not staying in the hotels, but, sometimes it’s harder. And it’s good to be ready for all the options and not to get poisoned from something animal if you accidentally eat it. 

[Donny] 

Right, which happens quite often here in Dahab. Are you… Is there anything… 

It’s very hard to ask people like what they eat, but is there anything that you won’t eat, that you absolutely don’t eat in your diet? No? 

[Kate] 

I don’t remember. 

[Donny] 

Maybe something not tasty. 

[Kate] 

But, usually I eat everything. Maybe not such fattty meat. 

[Donny] 

But it’s not like bread you don’t eat, or sugar you don’t eat, or caffeine. 

[Kate] 

I eat everything, but sometimes I… I try to make less sugar in my life and it’s actually… I feel the effect. 

But I can actually keep diving at the same level, eating everything. And maybe I will reach this like limit and then I will start to think about these small things. 

[Donny] 

You will. Maybe once you hit 80 meters you’ll start having to make some changes.

[Kate] 

Or maybe I will start thinking about kids more. 

[Donny] 

Maybe by the time you’re diving 100 meters no fins, you’ll be living purely on sunlight and air. 

[Kate] 

Food is one of the biggest pleasures in life. Especially for me being an athlete and when we spent so much time in the pool doing synchronised swimming. When you come out after three or four hours in the water you dream about the food. 

I really appreciate this opportunity to eat and eat good. It’s the easiest way to feel happy.

[Donny] 

Yes, 100% agree. Okay, so diet is fairly wide-ranging and you don’t have such big limitations. But what about supplementation? 

Did Samo try to get you on supplementation? You tried? 

[Kate] 

No, actually it was the opposite. I was trying to ask what I should I do for the gym, for example, these common things. 

Protein, whey protein. And he said it should be as little as possible. So protein, we kept it. And sometimes maybe some creatine. 

But not much. Actually, before I was using much more things like creatine, beta-alanine and citrulline. And this year I was fucking clean. 

[Donny] 

Clean, yes. You’re such a doper with your citrulline and your beta-alanine! Did you like that itchy feeling you get in your face when you take beta-alanine? 

[KateIt was weird.

I was experimenting. I heard it somewhere that some people do this. But at the end, you understand that all this stuff is coming from the fear that you’re not going to be able to do this. 

And when I stopped eating all that stuff, I felt like I rely only on myself. And it’s such an amazing feeling. 

[Donny] 

I think it’s also like protein as well. I think that so many people, most people, are taking protein supplements and powders that it’s completely unnecessary. And they have to look and think like, why is it that I don’t get the protein from the food that I eat? 

Is it because I’m eating too many carbs and there’s not enough room for protein at the end? Is it because I’m eating curries with sauces rather than eating just chicken breast which has 40 grams of protein in it right there or something like that? You can tweak your diet or make your diet more simple to bring you to a better condition with protein and macronutrients. 

[Kate] 

Actually, even with protein, it’s not the thing I’m taking every time. Maybe just during the competition to recover faster and pre-competition phase because it’s very intense and sometimes I have no opportunity to eat good food right after. And obviously before I dive I’m not eating. 

[Donny] 

So in the Bahamas, you’re at the Blue Hole, so you probably have to wait several hours before you get to a place to eat. 

[Kate]

Yeah, just to make sure that I’m not going to… 

[Donny] 

During the competitions, obviously you don’t do the same kind of strength workouts during the competitions as you would do in the preparatory phase, but would you still do some kind of easy workout just to keep the muscles feeling toned or… ?

[Kate] 

Yes, I try to, especially before, but during the competition sometimes it’s not possible because you can be already be close to overtraining and recovery is more important. 

[Donny]

Tell us about Sao. Is it still operational? 

[Kate]

It’s still alive.

[Donny] 

It’s a popular clothing and swimwear brand. Last time you were telling me that despite the fact that Ukraine was being invaded and occupied, you were still managing to keep the manufacturing going in Kyiv. Is that correct? 

Is it still like this?

[Kate]

It’s in Kharkiv actually. It’s even closer to the epicentre. , we keep doing it. 

I have a few more people who started to help me. It’s still not looking the way I would like to because obviously I was focusing on other things. When I was in the Bahamas, the whole summer actually, when I’m focusing on my training, I cannot think after. 

All my energy goes for recovery and I have to stop doing everything. It’s a challenge for me somehow to organise this working thing. So I don’t have to be that involved. 

But it’s nice, somehow it’s developing. We’re working on a new website so it’s going to be more international, customer-friendly, I hope. Because now to send we have this international delivery but it’s not very comfy for everyone. 

And we have this small collaboration with Dahab Freedivers with the towels. It’s nice to see many freedivers in the Blue Hole with these towels, with these features. 

[Donny] 

So you have the towels with the Dahab Freedivers logo on them. If you’re in Dahab, you can go over there, which is about 30 meters away and pick up some towels. 

[Kate] 

You can go for towels there, like a special edition for the Dahab Freedivers. We have some swimwear in the Fourth Element store. 

[Donny] 

That’s the store in the square behind us. 

[Kate] 

Another 30 meters! So somehow we’re moving with our own speed, pace. It’s nice. 

It’s also a different way to do things. You don’t need to rush. It’s also a kind of freediving way to do this. 

Not to compare yourself to others, not to rush, to grow when you’re ready. 

[Donny]

When are you going to get some speedos for guys?

[Kate] 

I think for this season I have to do it, because you’re like maybe 20th person who is asking for speedos. 

[Donny] 

I’m still wearing the same Decathlon speedos I’ve been wearing for three years. You can see everything through them now. The fabric is worn away. 

It’s very hard to get this kind of thing here in Egypt. I would happily wear your Sao speedos whenever they emerge. 

[Kate]

I see many people in the swimwear, so I would be happy to see some guys. 

[Donny]

I’ll be … not a model, but I’ll represent. How long are you staying in Dahab for? 

[Kate]

Until the 29th. Then I’m going straight to Kyiv. We have a pool championship there. I’m going to be a judge.

[Donny]

Is that the Ukrainian nationals?

[Kate]

Yes, it’s the nationals.

[Donny]

Will you compete and judge at the same time?

[Kate]

No, it’s not possible.

[Donny]

Why are you not competing then?

[Kate] 

Why should I? Some people say, I’m not going to compete because the top athletes compete, so I have no opportunity to win or something. I didn’t train pool, so I have no intention to do something big there. 

I’ll let somebody else to take this title. I’ll also be happy to be a part of this event, being a judge. 

[Donny] 

It’s nice for the ego as well, isn’t it? To step back and not have to be involved so much in the competitive aspect of freediving. 

[Kate] 

I think I’m finally okay with my ego. I don’t need to compete to feel good. If I compete, it’s just because I want to, because I’m ready, because I was training and I want to have some logical point to have some feedback, what to work on next. 

It’s kind of a part of preparation, this competition thing. With ego, we were working a lot, and finally I feel that it’s not 100% worked, but it’s better. Every year is better. 

[Donny]

What are your plans for next year? Are you already thinking about numbers or competitions? 

[Kate] 

I’m thinking, but there is nothing I could talk about. Because still, one thing, the pool championship, CMAS, which I would like to compete in, it will be in the beginning of July. It’s very… 

[Donny]

Very close to VB?

[Kate]

Yes, it’s very close. It’s a few days. 

[Donny]

You have to prioritise VB over that, right?

[Kate] 

I don’t know what I should prioritise, because this championship will be the selection for the World Games. And as we have this federation running in Ukraine, it will be a good thing to do for sports development itself. So I would like to compete in that call. 

But let’s see, maybe there is another way to qualify.

[Donny] 

(Referring to a passing cat) I was hoping you would come by. He was like… I had some food here before, he was so angry that he couldn’t walk past. He’s such an asshole. 

Well, whatever it is that you decide to do, I wish you all the best. I wish you an amazing amount of success. 

I know that there’s a lot of stuff going on at home, and it’s not easy to… to balance your life as a freediving athlete and thinking about your family and everyone else at the same time. 

[Kate] 

It’s hard, but it’s very rewarding. At the end, I come from this background, from this hard preparation, and having these thoughts in my mind. But then I enjoy even more just the opportunity to be in the sea, just to dive. 

Most of the times, it doesn’t really matter if I go really deep or a bit less deep, a bit shallower. What is the main insight from this year? 

This feeling… that the dive should be beautiful not only on the outside, but from the inside. I got very inspired just from diving next to the deepest freedivers in Vertical Blue, and the atmosphere was pretty amazing. 

These dives were very transformational. Of course, I was diving for the World Record, and I went through all the nervous parts of announcing it before. 

But when I went there, especially the last dive, it was amazing. I didn’t achieve it, it just happened. Because I was ready, everything was ready, and I just went and did it. 

And this is how it should be done. Not from pushing, but just from constant work, and then just letting yourself do what you can. It’s something that we’re searching for in freediving, to become a better version of ourselves. 

I really wish this to everyone. 

[Donny] 

That was so beautifully said, and thank you for inspiring me. Because you personally… I’ve always said, I don’t give a damn about Alexey and Will, and all those guys. 

I never got a fanboy thing for those guys, but I think I’m developing a fanboy thing for Kate Sadurska. I’m sorry!

[Kate] 

I’m also not really good at making idols, but there are some people who inspire me a lot. Now I’m diving here with Alenka Artnik, and I’m learning a lot from her approach. She’s such a deep person, and I’m not talking about numbers. 

It’s the way she’s doing that. Be ready. Of course, she could push all the time, but she’s waiting for the right feeling and the right moment. 

What’s the point? At the end, these numbers are not going to mean anything, but the quality of the dive can change a lot. For example, a day ago I did a beautiful dive to 60 meters with monofin in the Blue Hole here. 

It’s not very deep, but it was very transformative. I felt this… It’s like a point where I see the path I went through, this journey behind, because I was starting my freediving here. 

I was struggling a lot with the equalisation. I remember how I was trying, attempting the first 50 metres a lot, and I was pushing, and it didn’t work. Then I did the 60m, so easy, with so much joy, and with the power, and the feeling that everything is working. 

I felt like a grown-up orca, that I’m not a junior anymore. I finally learned something about freediving, about the approach, about life. Of course, it’s not only the approach, it’s the work on the details, like equalisation and strength and technique and everything. 

But when it comes together, it’s magic. 

[Donny] 

I’m amazingly happy for you that you’re having joyful dives. I think it’s so important, and I hope everyone else out there remembers to have joyful dives, and also, if they’re not, to maybe stop for a while or try something different. Just to finish up here, last time I asked you, like I ask everyone else, the last little part there. 

It’s clear that you freedive for something deeper than just numbers and achievements and records. Thank you for coming back and joining me here at the official Freedive Cafe. That’s all we got. 

[Kate] 

There should be two (teas) next time. 

[Donny] 

Maybe a French press or something like that. Thank you for inviting us. We’ll do this again next time and see where you are at that point. 

Until then, dive safe. 

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