When someone ask’s me about why I freedive, I have a difficult time answering them. It is an experience that one has to have felt to understand why we choose to not wear a heavy tank and all of the technology associated with it when we descend into the deep blue (or deep green for my part of the world)
But the question that is asked of me after that is how does someone learn to freedive?
Until recently, those who wanted to freedive had to rely upon what few resources were available – namely, the excellent books and videos by Terry Maas, as guides into the world of freediving.
Although excellent in their own right, the sport is beginning to see an increase in interest, and with the availability of high performance freediving equipment, a new issue has begun to arise as well – Should there be formal training for freediving?
Having become a freedive instructor, and after having spent much of the last 3-4 years before this trying to find as much training information as possible, I have to say with out a doubt… YES!
This issue, I am sure, will rub many old timers of the sport the wrong way – but the reality is this – the more people begin to freedive, the more chances there will be of fatalities. This can be mostly attributed to the lack of formal training in the many facets of freediving – physics, physiology, proper ventilation, etc.
The sport of freediving is considered by many to be an extreme sport – and in a sense it is. We hold our breath for as long as possible to try and catch a glimpse of the underwater realm that is akin to other marine mammals – Whales, Dolphins, seals, etc.
And to a certain extent, we share many of the same physiological adaptations as these creatures do – albeit to a lesser extent. But each of us started life in a watery environment – that of the amneotic fluid as we gestated in our mother’s womb. With proper training, along with the proper selection of equipment designed for freediving, you can become comfortable holding your breath while submerged underwater.
So how does one find proper training for freediving? The answer is not easy to give. There are very few resources available at this time to provide the safe, proper training needed to freedive. And what resources that are available, most are geared towards what is termed "Performance Freediving" or competition freediving. But most people interested in freediving want to participate from a recreational standpoint, and this is where much of the controversy surrounding freediving exists. There have been many reports regarding the deaths of young people trying to hold there breath in the family hot tub, or freedivers training alone at a local pool, only to drown at the bottom because they didn’t have a properly trained partner to rescue them should the need arise. This has given the sport a bad reputation – and this is in part due to improper information being freely distributed about various training techiniques – many too dangerous for new freedivers to be attempting and practicing.
There are a few agencies trying to promote the sport of freediving to both recreational and performance minded freedivers – each with their own training techniques, but based on a sound foundation of presentation and application. And it is these agencies that should be sought when looking for professional instruction on how to freedive safely.
These agencies provide both in class academics, practical pool training and open water application of these techniques in a safe environment. This is where a neophyte diver will discover the joy of the sport of freediving.
The following entities provide thorough, professional instruction for both recreational and competition freediving. They should be sought out regarding the specifics on what and where they teach.
S.A.F.E.R (English/Spanish and French spoken)
Ricardo Hernandez – President
401 SW 129 Ave.
Miami, Florida 33183
Phone/Fax: (305) 383-7730
Beeper: (305) 605-9984
International Association of Free Divers (I.A.F.D.)
Carlos Serra – President
820 NE 126th street
North Miami, Florida 33161
Ph. (305) 981-1116
Fx. (305) 981-1106
106-3533 West 4 Avenue
Canada, V6R 1N9
The Freedivers Resource
Cliff Etzel – S.A.F.E.R./I.A.F.D. Certified Freedive Instructor