Two dives at Y-40. With cylinders, to reach the maximum depth you can reach in a swimming pool. And in apnea, to start looking inside.
The highway, in front of me, runs straight and flat. The plain is everywhere, interspersing cities, villages, small villages with a bell tower, industrial warehouses, fields and immense orchards.
Abano appears to me as a ghost town. There are few people on the street, there are no children playing in the parks. The vapors come out of manholes, from inside hotels, from wells and small streams.
The outskirts of Montegrotto are a succession of long streets, low houses and plowed fields.
Finally the Hotel Millepini and an interesting billboard. It says: Y-40, your joy is measureless.
Y-40, the minus sign indicates depth while the Y represents a freediver’s kick to the abyss. The choice of the logo fully reflects all this.
The hyperthermal water of the Euganean Spas
Hyperthermal bromoiodic salty water is the most precious resource in the entire Euganean basin. It is of meteoric origin and flows from the subsoil at 87 degrees. In its long flow, at a depth of three thousand meters, it is enriched with mineral salts. The spas of Abano and Montegrotto have anti-inflammatory qualities. Scientific studies have shown that they have no side effects. The high content of sodium, potassium, magnesium, iodine, bromine and silicon are valid adjuvants for a good physical and emotional recovery.
Y-40: the deepest thermal pool in the world
Since 2014, diving has also been possible in these waters.
Y-40 was built in just 365 days, with an entirely Italian project. It was inaugurated by Enzo Maiorca and with a maximum depth of 42.15 meters it was the deepest pool in the world. Umberto Pelizzari certified its depth by setting the world record for freediving in the pool.
Inside it contains 4.3 million liters of geothermal water and there are 60 meters between caves and artificial caverns. We find 8 platforms placed at different depths and a spectacular transparent tunnel that allows you to cross it. The water temperature is within a range of 32/34 degrees.
Today the record for the deepest swimming pool in the world belongs to a pharaonic plant in Dubai. However, Y-40 remains the deepest thermal pool.
My Christmas present
Under the Christmas tree, this year I found an envelope. Inside there was a gift voucher for two dives at Y-40
Arrival in Montegrotto in a late afternoon of last week. It was getting dark, the cold was falling inexorably. I finally entered a warm and comfortable environment. At the reception I carried out all the formalities and, backpack on my shoulder, through the transparent tunnel that cuts the pool, to a depth of about 10 meters.
My scuba dive at Y-40
At the poolside, an assistant gave me the equipment I needed to dive. I had with me only the mask, the dive computer and a thermal lycra shirt.
After a quick briefing, I was ready to immediately descend into the vertical shaft. It lead me to my personal depth record with cylinders in a swimming pool.
On the walls that delimit it a metric scale reminded me of the depth I am gradually reaching, up to the deepest point: – 42.15 meters !! On the bottom the i Y-40 logo.
I went up, carefully respecting the speed of ascent, up to the first platform, at 20 meters.
Here the environment was more varied, a series of pitches regulate the depth levels. They gave rise to a succession of paths, through boulders, statues and artificial caves. Then I found a long cross tunnel, narrow and dark. It is ideal for cave courses.
Or higher up there is also a mirror, quite large. It is used to manage, treat and improve my set-up.
It is an immersion that is anything but trivial. I would call it curious, relaxing and very funny. And, above all, in the heat …
I stayed there for 55 minutes… There must be a reason. Or not?
My freediving test
The next day was the time to try freediving. For me it was almost a novelty, it was more than 15 years that I had not tried this discipline. At the time of my first scuba certification, obtained with the CMAS, I had learned the caps and I had practiced a lot with the underwater frog in apnea and with a particular underwater exercise that used to manage stress in the absence of air. Since those times, only on a few rare occasions had I tried to dive in apnea. Once in the Maldives, a few more times in my sailing holidays and with Giorgio to reach the Madonnina di Zoagli.
I was in the water with Massimo, the instructor who will followed me. I breathed deeply, trying to use the diaphragm. I breathed in and out slowly, trying to reach a good level of relaxation.
Then static apnea, the first test against myself. I tried to leave my body in the water, in an attempt to reduce the effort to mine. I relaxed listening to the music that accompanies the aquatic lesson for children that was taking place by the pool. I resisted, for a while I got lost in my most abstract thoughts. Then came the boredom and, inexorably, the desire to breathe. I resisted, I tried to think of something else. My brain was in full function again, myriads of thoughts are buzzing through my head. I held on again, then a slight sob and lifted my head. I breathed again. It had been just two and a half minutes.
It was time to put on my fins and try to swim underwater. My kick was from a diver, a former swimmer bastardized by water polo. In short, not pretty to look at and certainly not effective. But the distance was definitely within my reach.
It started to go down. First on the cable. First stage 6 meters and then 9. I compensated well, I was calm, both downhill and uphill.
It was time to up the ante, in constant gear. The first target was at 12 meters. I tried, they seemed a lot to me. The result was very satisfying, I went up calm and composed.
I tried the next step. The buoy cable secured on the 15 meter platform. I breathed and went down with a good upside down. In a moment I was under. It just missed the bottom, I had already compensated a few times. The mask pressed on my face but I had no more air in my mouth to compensate for it. I grit my teeth (and my face …) and continued towards my goal. I touched the bottom and went up. Just a few meters to no longer feel the discomfort of the mask pressing on my face. Now I was relaxed again and I enjoy the ascent, with serenity.
I tried again and this time I tried to compensate for the mask in advance. The result was not optimal but sufficient not to experience the unpleasant sensation of before. Now I could also try to go further but I preferred to redo the same depth for the third time. Correct compensation is an aspect not to be overlooked and I want to face it with patience.
Yes, because I decided to start training my freediving. Starting from improving my static apnea and my underwater kicking. To learn how to better manage air hunger and to get the most out of the propulsion of the fins.
Then the heat will come and, perhaps, the time for my first freediving course. To learn to “look inside”.
But now it’s time to put the dry suit back on, because out there the water is cold and I quickly got used to the warmth of Y-40.