I want to start Freediving! Do I need to get Freediving equipment or can I just go with my scuba gear?
Surely you have seen those long freediving fins before, which are just super annoying to walk around in the water. And these small masks through which you barely see anything. Two piece wetsuits and flexible snorkels… For sure, freediving equipment may look pretty much like scuba equipment and for sure there are a lot of similarities but it is also quite different.
So then, is it really necessary to get freediving equipment to start the sport? Or is your regular scuba or snorkel equipment enough?
Well, first of all we need to look at the differences between the two to come to a proper conclusion. Mh, actually not. The answer is quite simple! For sure you can freedive with your scuba equipment, why wouldn’t you? As long as you have a Mask, a pair of fins and a dive buddy you should be ready. Still there are reason why starting this amazing sport with the proper equipment will create less effort.
The mask, for example, every diver should know that you have to equalize the mask. If you are not a diver, then, well now you know. While scuba diving equalizing the mask is no big deal, since you have a lot of air on your back which makes exhaling into the mask from time to time, pretty easy. Now while freediving your tank are your lungs. On the surface we fit about six liters of air in our lungs; that is much less than in a scuba tank under pressure. This means that the available air for mask equalization is way, way less, which makes it more difficult. That’s why somebody came up with the idea to decrease the air volume in the diving mask, giving up a bit of the vision, but making the process of equalizing easier since now you have to exhale less air into it. Hence the simple change from a scuba to a freediving mask will make your diving experience much more enjoyable.
Next the fins: freediving fins can definitely be super annoying, especially in the beginning. Walk around in shallow water having those huge, long foot extensions on, and you’ll be as clumsy as a newborn who tries his first steps. But as it goes with children it goes with Freediving fins as well. Once you get used to it you will be happy that you made those first steps, because they simply maximize the propulsion while minimizing the effort. It’s literally so much easier to freedive with proper long bladed fins particularly designed for the sport and you can really feel how every kick takes you deeper and deeper, while still being confident that you will make it back to the surface as well.
As for the wetsuits everything I mentioned before counts again. For sure you can go with your scuba suit, as long as it keeps you warm enough and protected from the sunlight but you will feel more comfortable in a freediving suit. The regular freediving wetsuits consists of two parts. Waist high pants or long johns and a top normally with a hood attached to it. The so called “open-cell” wetsuit has a layer of neoprene on the inside and usually nylon outside, to make it a bit more durable. The inside layer of neoprene makes it harder to get the suit since it is quite “sticky” but once you got it on it stays very close to the skin therefore avoiding water to enter your suit keeping you nice and warm.
The hood is not only a great protection from the sunlight but keeping you warm as well. You want to avoid shivering at all cost while freediving as your body will burn more oxygen to keep your body temperature up, increasing the risk of a blackout. In the end a freediver will always try to use the thinnest possible suit, while still staying warm, to promote maximum flexibility and the least amount of weight needed. In fact the smaller the amount of weight we bring down, the less effort we make to come back up. While this is not a big issue on 20-25 meters dives, it will be on deeper dives.
Well, I guess I gave you a brief overview about the difference between scuba and freediving gear and the advantages of it whilst freediving. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean that you have to run into the shops now buying all sorts of new equipment just because you want to try a new sport. Your scuba gear will be more than enough to get an idea of the sport of breath hold diving and who knows? Maybe you will end up in long fins, low volume mask and open- cell suit sooner than expected.