Interview with Matt Malina
Interview with Matt Malina by Steve Millard
Hi Matt, could you give us a brief introduction for those who may not know you please.
I am 34 years old and I am from Poland. I am freediving for almost 12 years now, but I was aware of the sport since I was about 15 years old. As for achievements in freediving the list is long but let us keep it short, because anyone can google it if he is interested.
I have set 7 World Records and five World Champion titles. I can breath-hold for more than 10 minutes, dive more than 310 meters in dynamic and dive below 110 meters of depth.
More you can find on my website:
What motivates you to be so successful at what you do?
I think the inner curiousness. For me it is never ending journey deep inside my body. I never listen to naysayers and I very often do things how I feel while mixing with science. Over many years of freediving I have developed exceptionally good ability of following my own hunch. Freediving is very psychological sport and cannot be approached only from athletic point of view. A lot of training that I do targets both physical and mental aspects, with even more emphasis on a mental part. You can train hard all year long but when the competition come, nerves may not let you do your best. Over the years I also realized that becoming mentally tough from freediving training, it opened my mind and made me tough in other aspects of life. I treat freediving as a general body and mind training, and I have no reason to stop as I grow both as athlete and as a person practicing it.
I also believe that human body is the most perfect and complex machine created in universe. As I said I am very curious person and freediving allows me to fulfil that feeling. I am a mechanical engineer by education but I was always fascinated how our body works – which is in a way a machine, biomechanical one to be precise – and reacts to different situations and stimuluses once exposed.
You are releasing a new coaching service, could you let us know a bit about that please?
Sure. Together with Samo Jeranko, we have created a series of training programs for all levels of freediving which you can find on https://freedive-training.com . We have programs for recreational, advanced, performance, elite, spearfishing oriented freedivers together with consultations and 1:1 coaching. There is so many people that want to train but they do not know how to start, how to progress or do it efficiently while achieving our peak performance in desired time of season. We have learned it the hard way, so others do not have to repeat our mistakes. We can all agree that it would be awesome to have a coach who would tell us what to do. It is extremely hard to think about perfect training, execute it and have confidence that it is the right thing to do, especially when competition doesn’t go according to our plan. We doubt us and the coach inside us. You will be able to skip that few years of experimenting, what works, what not, pick a plan suitable to your level, time availability and just train, following the plan designed by us. I think it is a unique opportunity to train like champion and be coached by one. We know that not everyone has a time to train five or six times a week to be a champion. Do not worry, when we started, we trained as little as two or three times a week. That is why in lower tiers of difficulty levels, we carefully selected exercises that will give the most benefits, towards maximizing your performance, while you are able to train only two or three times a week.
Which discipline do you think we will still see the biggest improvements in apnea?
It is an awfully hard question. I think dynamic pool performances offer bigger room for improvement, especially dynamic with bifins since it is new one and records are not as high as they could be. I think the hardest record to break from depth disciplines is a CNF one. William ascended to the pinnacle of human performance to achieve that and he optimized every little aspect required for depth diving. I think it will take another few year to break it, maybe even a decade while other disciplines will be improving on a yearly or bi-yearly basis.
Where is the most beautiful place you have dived?
A bit cliché but for me the two most beautiful places I have ever dived are both Blue Holes. One in Dahab and the other one in Bahamas. However, I would love to dive in Dominica as it looks very pretty but I just have not had a chance.
For success in Freediving competitions and records, what do you think are the most important things for an aspiring diver to do to be successful?
In my opinion the key to success is being consistent, patient, disciplined, relentless and have a good training ethics. Motivation is not especially important as it comes and goes. It can help start some process, but you will not be able to stay equally motivated for years ahead of you. If I would train only when I am motivated, if I would push hard only when I am motivated, I would achieve fraction of what I did. In today times we are seeking for instant gratification and we are not patient nor motivated enough or at least this is something we tell ourselves or how we justify our shortcomings. I always value characteristics mentioned in the beginning as the most important. You must imprint them into your DNA, work hard, be patient, consistent, disciplined, relentless and the results will come! Sometimes you just must shut up your mind and keep pushing.
How did you feel each time you break a new world record?
We have many “first times” in our life and they feel very special for us. Breaking world records is not different. The first one was special and made me extremally happy. To be honest, I will never forget the feeling after my first world record. Huge internal transformation and that is the moment I started to trust myself and my methods. All the others one felt different than the first one. I think breaking first world record in depth discipline will bring similar feelings as the first pool one. I hope it will happen one day!
Do you have much time for diving for enjoyment these days?
Not really, now I am during lockdown due to COVID-19 and I hope to be able to freedive at least in the pool in not so distant future. Next months I would love to travel to Philippines or Dahab.
What is your next goal?
I never have any goal in mind. I try not to focus on certain numbers. I rather enjoy training process in general. Now I hope to return to the pool as soon as they re-open after COVID-19. In the next few years, I hope to change my focus more into depth diving and I hope to have more opportunities to dive deep and explore this part of freediving as well as I discovered pool part.
I look forward to catching up with you again post lockdown buddy 🙂