“Why freediving?” many ask. Why do you want to hold your breath until your body is screaming for air and see how far you can go, when you can strap a scuba tank on your back and go as far as you want?
This is one of the most common questions that people, especially scuba divers, ask us.
Well, freediving is not at all like this! It is not about your body screaming for air and not about suffering for lack of oxygen. Freedivers don’t come back from a dive looking like they are about to suffocate, but most of the time they break the surface with a big smile stamped on their face.
Why are they smiling? That is hard to explain to people who have never tried it! The feeling of gliding in the blue water, the feeling of being at peace submerged in this big vast liquid world, the feeling of becoming a sea creature, the feeling of belonging that makes us almost remember our real aquatic origins; all of this condensed in a 1 or 2 minutes experience, makes it very hard not to smile! And it is also very hard to spoil this experience and to get bored by it, since your dives will never get longer than a couple of minutes, there’s no risking of quickly becoming bored of it, and you end up wanting more and more. This is what scuba divers dont understand when they see us going up and down over and over: they usually think “what’s the point of going up and down all the time, it looks so silly! much better staying down here 1 hour straight” and in the meanwhile they are missing the whole point!
Is Freediving For Me?
“Is freediving for me?”. That is another popular question. People see freedivers in the water, they watch freediving videos on you tube and they think “Wow, it looks beautiful, but that looks for superhumans, not for regular people like me”.
Well, that is simply wrong! There is nothing superhuman about freediving; this sport is for everyone who is comfortable in the water, without the need to be a particularly good swimmer.
The reason for this is that freediving is not at all an unnatural activity for mammals, as hundreds of millions years ago, when conditions on land were not that favorable to life, we were all living in the water. Our bodies still remember that long gone time, and when we submerge a click switches somewhere and it turns on a thing called Mammalian Dive Reflex. This makes it possible for us to adapt, very fast, to the underwater environment by preserving our body against increasing pressure and lack of oxygen. In more recent times, our terrestrial ancestors did this for centuries to gather food and other resources.
Isn’t It Dangerous?
“Isn’t it dangerous?” is the next question usually asked . No, it isnt dangerous if you follow all the basic safety guidelines. This is why it is always recommended to start by doing a beginner course. This not only will teach you the dangers (low oxigen, how to rescue a freediver and how to avoid getting i trouble), it will also make your learning curve very steep and in 2 days with an instructor you will learn what it would take you months and months as a self taught freediver. For further insight on this subject read this interesting article by one of our blogger Benjamin Boehme (is freediving really a dangerous sport?)
Not only freediving is not dangerous, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle and the breathing and relaxation techniques used in freediving can be extremely useful in many situations in real life, especially when we are exposed to stressful conditions.
Above all, remember that the real reason why we freedive is to have fun and enjoy the feeling it gives us, and that learning to freedive doesn’t lead automatically to become a competitive freediver. On the contrary, most people do it as a form or recreation as it is a great tool to use whenever we want to explore the underwater environment without cumbersome scuba gear.
“What is modern freediving and which are its disciplines?”
Freediving, or free-diving, also known as apnea diving, is a form of underwater diving where the diver holds his breath until resurfacing rather than using a breathing apparatus such as scuba equipment.
Before it became a sport, freediving was used for gathering food and other resources as pearls, sponges, corals and fish. In 60’ies some “crazy” people (Enzo Maiorca, Bob Croft, Jacques Mayol are the most well known) started freediving for competing against each other, and this was the beginning of modern freediving.
As it is today, freediving has 8 competitive disciplines, here below the list and a short description of each.
Constant weight with fins(CWT) is a freediving discipline in which the freediver descends and ascends using his fins or monofin. Constant weight is the common sportive depth discipline of freediving, because of the specific fins or monofins used in it.
Constant weight without fins (CNF) is a discipline in which the freediver descends and ascends by swimming without the use of fins or without pulling on the rope ; this is the most challenging depth discipline of freediving because of the physical effort needed to swim without assistance.
Free immersion (FIM) is a discipline in which the athlete uses the vertical guiderope to pull him or herself down to depth and back to the surface.
Variable weight (WVT) is a record discipline where the freediver uses a weighted sled for an effortless descent and he returns to the surface by pulling himself up along a line or swimming with his fins or monofin (Link to linda’s video)
No-Limits (NL) is a record discipline that allows the freediver to use any means of breath-hold diving to reach depth and to ascend. The most popular way of doing this is by using a weighted sled to descend and an inflated lift bag to return to the surface.
Static apnea (STA) is a discipline in which the freediver holds his breath laying face down on the water surface for as long as possible, and need not swim any distance.
Dynamic apnea Covers two of the eight competitive freediving categories : dynamic with fins and without fins. In both disciplines the freediver swims horizontally underwater under his own power, using bi-fins or a monofin (DYN) or propelling himself by underwater breastroke style (DNF).