Many novice (and not so novice) freedivers assume that the freediving lanyard must always be worn on the wrist, but many times this is not the case: in fact even though from a safety point of view the wrist is the best place to wear it, it is practically impossible to do CNF (constant no fins) this way, and it is also very uncomfortable for FIM (free immersion).
Where should i wear my freediving lanyard then?
Constant Weight (CWT)
This is a no-brainer: the best place to wear the strap is on your wrist, both in terms of practicality and safety. If you don’t mess up your duck dive and your turn, the lanyard has very little chance to get tangled somewhere. In Term of safety, the wrist is the best solution, as if the freediver suffers a deep black out and needs to be pulled up via a counter weight system, being pulled up by the arm offers the most streamlined position possible, creating less drag and therefore making the rescue faster.
Constant Weight without Fins (CNF)
Doing CNF with a lanyard on the wrist or ankle is a real nightmare. The chance that the lanyard wire will tangle around you hand or foot is very high; this of course is not only annoying; but on deep and demanding dives it can have a great negative impact on safety. In fact think of a freediver struggling with a tangled lanyard at the bottom of his dive and having to use precious energy to free himself instead of swimming; and think also of the mental stress that this will cause. Some freedivers might panic and release the lanyard to free themselves, which put them at great risk to be lost from the dive line.
So, the only real option left is to secure the lanyard on the waist, even though this is not ideal for deep rescue (as the body position of an unconscious body pulled from his waist will be spread out and create a lot of drag, slowing down the recovery).
Note that the lanyard should NEVER be secured to your weight belt! Firstly you might want to release your weight belt if needed (for example you are struggling with a hard ascent), without detaching your lanyard. Secondly, a rubber belt is flexible, and therefore is not safe for recovering a heavy body. The lanyard waist belt needs to be made of a strong fabric, have a safe closure that is strong and not easy to open accidentally.
Free Immersion (FIM)
On FIM dives you will see a bit of everything: some freedivers wear it on the wrist, some on a belt around the waist and some on their ankle.
Many find that having the lanyard on the wrist is annoying as it hinders the amplitude of the pull (not the hand with the lanyard but the one without) unless the lanyard is longer than all average lanyards are. For this reason is usually those who still dive to shallow depth who are using this method.
As for securing the lanyard on the waist, this is still used but not as common as it used to be, due to the safety issues described above. FIM dives tend to be much deeper than CNF, so the need to avoid a slow rescue is even greater.
Most experienced freediver wear the freediving lanyard on their ankle, as this provide little chance for getting the lanyard tangled during the turn (in fact during a smooth turn most of the times the lanyard will not even touch the bottom plate/bottom weight). It also keeps the lanyard away from your hands so that it will not be in the way of your pulls. In terms of rescue, the recovery position will not be as ideal as the “wrist recovery” but it will probably better than the “waist recovery”
In the photo below you see the preferred ways of wearing the freediving lanyards on each separate discipline.
One final advice: many make their own freediving lanyard to save money. While this is ok if you have access to good materials and know how to build a lanyard, most times people will use bad quality material such as cables that rust or tangle easily, weak straps, low quality carabiners and do not secure the cables in the proper way. Often pulling one of these lanyard pull strong enough will make it fall apart. If you have made your own lanyard make sure to test it by standing over the strap and pulling the other side, or put it across a pull up bar and give it a proper tug.
Remember that a freediving lanyard can save your life, so don’t be cheap!
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