Freediving is the sport of underwater diving without the use of a breathing apparatus. Divers hold their breath, descend into the water, explore, and ascend back to the surface each dive. It is a freeing and peaceful activity that affords divers the many pleasures of an up close experience of marine life.
Freediving opens the mystical world of the ocean to people without requiring certifications or extensive gear. There is an extremely low barrier to entry for the sport as most anyone can begin as a “bubble watcher,” enjoying the ocean snorkeling on the surface. The minimalist gear requirements and beauty of the sport make it an extremely attractive activity for men and women of all ages. The typical gear used in freediving is comprised of: a mask, snorkel, and fins. Additionally, those diving in colder water will often wear a skin or wetsuit for more comfortable diving.
Freediving is a sport that offers much and also serves as an excellent form of exercise, both physically and mentally. Those seeking to push their bodies to extremes in freediving must have the discipline, self-control, and physical and mental fitness to safely push the limits of the human body. As you progress to deeper and longer dives, it is critical to be knowledgeable about the sport to enjoy safe diving. In my opinion, it is truly remarkable understanding how the body reacts to deeper dives. Believe it or not, a freediver’s lungs shrink to the size of a fist due to the significant amount of pressure they experience during the dive. Professional freediver’s heart rates slow to as low as 8-10 beats per minute, and their bodies experience strong contractions that must be appropriately understood. Deeper dives are mental and physical battles, demanding a high level of mental concentration and proper swimming techniques.
If you are interested in getting into the sport, I would suggest doing some research and taking a freediving class. There are numerous classes offered where you can learn how to freedive safely with some of the best divers in the world! (You can even take a class with one of my favorite freedivers and spearfisherman, Cameron Kirkconnell). Once you learn the basics and techniques of freediving, such as: equalizing, dealing with mask pressure, and understanding your body, contractions, and the Mammalian Dive Reflex, the sport is increasingly rewarding. Those that train for the sport and become more experienced are rewarded with calmer, longer, and deeper dives in a world worth exploring.
More blogs to come with a detailed explanation of the different types of freediving and some tips and tricks for better freediving!