Imagine swimming through ridges of corals with gorgeous schools of fish or coming head to head with mahi-mahi! That’s the beauty of freediving. It gets you experiencing the underwater gardens up close in just a single breath!
It’s like scuba diving, but without an air tank – just yourself, your pair of lungs, and thousands of fish species.
This simply means that your stay undersea will highly be determined by how long you are able to hold your breath. Some freedivers will go up to 10 minutes without coming up for air – others won’t last even a minute.
The likes of Tom Sietas and Stig Severinsen will obviously find the sport more rewarding because they can stay down there longer. For those who are still wet behind the ears, here are some interesting freediving facts that will get you seeing the sport in a whole new light.
Freediving Fact #1: Humans Are Land Version Of Whales And Dolphins
Marine mammals, like all groups of mammals, have a special reflex that enables them to swim deeper into the sea without crushing their lungs. That’s why whales and dolphins will comfortably dive and dwell at unbelievable depths.
Now, human beings too experience the diving reflex, with some freedivers perfecting the reflex so well that they can go up to 700ft below the water’s surface.
Freediving Fact #2: Your Heart Beats Three Times Slower Than A Coma Patient
The heart of a freediver beats exceptionally low on a deep dive. In fact, some divers have recorded a heart rate of as low as 10 beats per minute. Well, that’s a rate lower than a coma patient’s and physiologically, a heartbeat this slow can induce unconsciousness, and yet, during freediving, it doesn’t!
Freediving Fact #3: The Pressure That Our Bodies Withstand Underwater Could Injure Us On Land
The mammalian diving reflex kicks in the moment you deep your face into the water. Your heart rate drops up to 54 beats per minute (approximately a 25% drop). The blood that was flowing to your extremities is redirected to the core and the electrical impulses into your brain become softer.
These responses only occur in water and are the reason you are able to survive the pressure exerted in the underwater world. Such extreme pressure on land would injure or even kill us, but not deep in the sea.
Freediving Fact #4: Freediving Is To Some Extent Safer Than Scuba Diving
Compared to scuba diving, freediving is more liberating. You see, when scuba diving, you will have to be careful about stuff like the speed at which you descend or ascend, decompression sickness, or how long you stay down there.
As a freediver, you can go down or up at your own pace. You won’t have to worry as much about nitrogen bubbles sneaking into your bloodstream. Not even about how long you stay down there – your diving watch will be your own ability to hold your breath. So if you can breathe up good and remain restless, your body will naturally expel toxic levels of gas.
Freediving Fact #5: The Doorway To The Deep Is Actually The Doorway To Enchantment
After a depth of 40 meters, you arrive at the “doorway to the deep”. This is some sort of a gravity-less area where instead of floating, the ocean starts pulling you down. It somehow feels like buoyancy is reversing, an experience that uncovers an extremely magical world.
Freediving Fact #6: Freediving Was Among The First Underwater Sports To Come Into Existence
Freediving has been around for a long time. In the ancient days, people used to freedive for food, coral, pearls, sponges, and everything they could lay their eyes on in the underwater gardens. We only stopped paying much attention to the sport in the last couple of centuries after technology advanced and introduced us to new fishing and foraging methods.
In the 17th century, freedivers could be seen diving up to depths of 50 meters and remaining there for close to 20 minutes in one breath. But scientists at the time disputed the reports claiming that no one can descend that deep without their lungs crushing.
Today, however, things are beginning to looking brighter again in the freediving world. In fact, so much so that expert divers can last up to 22 minutes submerged deep in the water. So in a way, the reports on ancient freedivers could actually be true.
Freediving Fact #7: Freediving Is A Quiet Sport
Freediving is silent, making it one of the most intimate ways to explore and connect with the marine world. There is very little chance of you scaring the fish and other marine creatures off their habitat.
Instead, they will become docile, giving you a chance to play with them, explore their schools, and take some of the most breathtaking pictures. Trust us; no other underwater sport will get you this close to the sea wildlife.
Freediving Fact #8: Freediving Isn’t Special
As long as you can hold your breath, the rest of the training will be a cakewalk. And you will need very little training to get your breath-holding in check. Nowadays, with only a few freediving lessons, you can control your breath and hold it up for 2 to 5 minutes. Not so bad, right?
Freediving Fact #9: Freedivers Embrace The Buddy System
Smart freedivers never dive alone. If you want to try the sport, take a freediving course. There are so many agencies offering diving training today, all you need to do is get a certified instructor.
Once you have taken the training, keep practicing. Moreover, know your limits. But most importantly, always bring a friend or two on a freediving adventure. Besides, the sport would be more fun with the people you love.
Freediving Fact #10: Infants Are Better Freedivers Than Adults
That’s right! Research shows that newborns can comfortably hold their breath below the surface of the water for more than 30 seconds, which is more than most adults can. They will instinctively begin breast stroking and open their eyes. This ability is only lost when the baby learns to walk.