Interview With Freediving World Record Holder Matt Malina
Just recently we have had an amazing opportunity to take part in a special two-day workshop led by a real freediving superstar, multiple World Record Holder, and World Champion Mateusz (Matt) Malina. In addition to giving a very informative and inspiring masterclass, Matt has agreed to share some of his insights with our readers.
So today we proudly present our interview with Mateusz Malina. Enjoy reading!
DipNDive: Hey Matt, first of all, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us here! Now, you have taken the international freediving stage by storm. Currently, you are the strongest freediver in the World in pool disciplines. So tell us, when and how did you first try freediving? Was the world championship your goal from the start or was it just a hobby?
Matt Malina: Freediving was and is still a hobby for me. I started 9 years ago and was just curious about the sport. I went to my first competition not to really compete, I just wanted to meet freediving people, because the competition is the best place to meet freedivers. It just all developed later. I was curious about my body, what can I achieve, so I was gradually improving, but the championship was never an ultimate goal for me. I started from the very beginning and I wanted to improve, to see where it goes. That’s why I still do it. It gives me motivation and a sense of purpose in my life.
DND: You have set 5 World Records and 32 Polish National Records, but what is, in your own opinion, your biggest achievement so far?
MM: I think that 244 DNF is my biggest achievement from the sport point of view. On the personal ground, records are not so important. I'm a completely different person than I was 10 years ago. So my biggest achievement is knowing that I have changed my life for better and that I can inspire other people. I never knew I would be here where I am now.
DND: So is DNF your favorite discipline? Is there any particular reason you gravitate towards this discipline?
MM: DNF is my favorite discipline because I just feel the best at it. I don’t use any facial equipment, and I don’t have fins, so I just use my own muscles to propel myself. It feels more natural to me than monofin, for example. I also like free immersion in depth diving, but I don’t have the opportunity to dive deep so much. I spend the majority of my time in the pool. If I had an opportunity I would do more deep diving for sure. It’s more natural to me, it’s easier.
DND: Can you talk us through your training specifics - how often do you normally train, what kinds of training do you prioritize, do you always have a training plan or simply decide what you want to do on the go?
MM: I train mostly every day. My training is complex, so I do everything - I do pool training, I do strength training, I do hypoxic training, I work with the psychologist and I work on my diet and nutrition. There are many parts to my training. As for the training plan, I very often do what my gut tells me. I never write down a plan for the month and stick to it. I do assign some days to certain types of exercises, for example on Monday I do the pool and on Tuesday I do the physical training, so I have this kind of plan, but I don’t have any specific numbers.
DND: It seems that many freedivers struggle with psychological issues more than with physical constraints. What is your advice on overcoming those psychological obstacles and/or dealing with stress?
MM: I think in freediving very often people have some psychological issues and this is a part of the training neglected by many divers. Visualization and meditation are as important as training in the pool, in my opinion. The best advice is to work on it as hard as you work on physical training. Most of the psychological issues come from our ego and are caused by our expectations. So I would say the best thing is to be in a present moment. When you are diving, be in that dive, don’t compare that dive to what was in the past and don’t calculate where you will end up because it changes your time perspective. It’s better to just stay here and now, be in the present moment. This is the most important.
DND: You have been in competitive freediving for what, 7 years? Looking back, are there any things you regret doing in your training? What would you change if you had a chance to start over again?
MM: Yeah, I would have started the physical workout from the beginning. I didn’t do it for a few years in the beginning because I didn’t know how important it is. That’s the only thing I would do differently, I am happy with everything else.
DND: I know that freedivers often have sort of a special mantra - a thought they go to or an image they visualize when they are diving. What do you think about during your most important dives?
MM: I don’t have any specific mantra, I deal with the thoughts that are coming, and there are many thoughts and fears. There is this technique of positive self-talk, so I just use that before and during the dive.
DND: What are your goals and plans for the future?
MM: I don’t have any target goals. For now, the plan is that I am going to Egypt in October, I will compete there in CNF. So, I just know that I want to prepare for CNF, but I don’t have any specific number in my head. Later after the Red Sea Cup, I will organize Masterclass with Dahab Freedivers on 28th-29th of October, so if anyone is around, feel welcome!
DND: If you could give only one piece of advice to aspiring freedivers what would it be?
MM: Never freedive alone!
DND: Is there anything else you would like to add or share with our readers?
MM: I would like to thank my general sponsor Grena LTD and my wife for supporting me. Without them, I would not be at the point where I am now!
- 5 World Records, 32 Polish National Records. 3 World Championship titles, 2 vice-champion titles and 1 bronze medal.
- DNF - 244m - Turku, Finland (02.07.2016)
- DYN - 300m - Turku, Finland (03.07.2016)
- STA - 09:56 - Dubai, UAE (18.03.2017)
- FIM - 113m - Long Island, Bahamas (27.11.2014)
- CNF - 83m - Dahab, Egypt (28.11.2013)
- CWT - 100m - 28.09.2010 - Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt (28.09.2010)