Thursday, July 18, 2024

How to Find the Best Freediving Instructor


It’s time for a new adventure – but every adventure needs the right guide!

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge with a freediving course! And whether it’s your first course or an advanced course, the biggest gift you can give yourself with this new experience is the right instructor. After all, you’re investing your hard-earned money into learning a safe physical activity only when done correctly. And we all remember that one teacher from childhood that inspired us gave us passion and drive and helped us succeed. Well, that’s exactly who you need on your freediving journey!

So how do you find that special person for your upcoming freediving course?

Keep reading to find out!

Does the Freediving Agency Matter?

This is a good question, and you’ll get mixed answers. On the one hand, if you want to work up the ladder and become a freediving instructor or competitor, you probably want to stay within the same freediving agency to avoid having to crossover midway through your journey. And as an instructor, I believe going with the agency with the most challenging requirements is a good thing – especially if you want to also crossover with another agency later with less challenging requirements.

Freediver ascending along the rope in the depth
Freediving instructor watching a student at depth.

But if you don’t want to be an instructor or a competitor and are just looking for experience? Then no, it doesn’t really matter – it’s the instructor that matters more. But I believe in certified freediving courses with instructor requirements, safety standards, updated educational materials, quality management, and a code of conduct. The reason is that there are ‘instructors’ out there that claim to teach non-swimmers how to become a freediving coach in 10 days – and to be honest, I wouldn’t want my little sister learning from one of these ‘coaches.’

Another thing to consider is if there is a discipline you’re interested in. For example, if you’re excited about no fins or monofin diving, not all freediving agencies offer these in their curriculum. However, your future instructor might be a no-fins or monofin connoisseur, so check with them if this is important to you and if it’s not included in the freediving agency’s requirements and skills.

Choose the Right Location

Location is more important than you think! If you have a fear of diving in water where you cannot see the bottom, it might be difficult for you to get the most out of a freediving course that’s taking place in deep places or murky conditions. What about huge waves, currents, cold water, bad visibility, or long swims to the dive site? On the other hand, if you’ll be mostly freediving in one place (for example, a cooler lake in a land-locked country), perhaps it’s a good idea to learn how to freedive there to understand conditions and limitations rather than in tropical waters in the Philippines.

However, it must be said that learning and succeeding in a place with difficult conditions can make you an overall better freediver and will also make you an unstoppable force of nature in ideal conditions like the Blue Hole in Dahab, Egypt!

You should decide beforehand exactly what conditions you are comfortable with and what your end goals are before choosing a location for your freediving course. Google away, post in the forums, ask on freediving Facebook groups, or ask potential freediving instructors specific questions about their location beforehand.

Experience Makes a Difference

Freediving training on swimming pool
An instructor teaches STA in the pool with students.

An instructor with experience can change your freediving course’s potential outcome. It’s safe to say that freedivers of every level usually experience certain problems. For example, take Frenzel equalization. Frenzel can be difficult to learn (and to teach!), but an instructor that has dealt with many students with Frenzel issues may be more equipped to help you through that barrier.

Experienced instructors also are familiar with what can go wrong on a course and take appropriate risk management procedures to prevent accidents. Your safety is in their hands, so you must properly check out an instructor and make sure they make student safety their number one priority!

It’s important to mention that we’re not discounting new instructors here – everyone has to start somewhere! And some new instructors have shadowed and assisted experienced instructors on courses before going out on their own – that way, they have some of that experience rubbing off on them without the pressure of sole responsibility over students. Ask your instructor about their previous experience – don’t be shy!

Read the Reviews

You can see a lot from reviews – Google Maps, Facebook, Trip Advisor, etc. These are (hopefully) real reviews from real students that want to share their experiences. Look for words like ‘experienced,’ ‘safety,’ ‘patient,’ ‘individual attention,’ ‘positive,’ ‘passionate,’ etc. When people are happy or dissatisfied with their experience, they leave detailed reviews, and you can get valuable insight into how they conduct their courses. You can also tell a lot by reviewing responses from the instructor or school – positive and critical reviews- and seeing some of their personality there. This brings us to the final thing you should be looking for…

Pick the Right Personality

Freediver buddies on surface giving OK signal
Student giving the OK signal to his freediving instructor.

Now by saying personality, we also mean teaching style. While some personalities seamlessly fit together, others can grate against one another. Suppose you are getting into freediving more for the good feelings and calm, meditative aspect of it. In that case, you might have trouble in a course where an autocratic instructor pushes you constantly with a more challenge-yourself approach. And the same can be said for someone who does need more structure and control and ends up with a more ‘relaxed’ instructor. But what applies to every freediving student is that they need a patient and supportive instructor who respects their fears and makes them feel safe. 

Talk with potential instructors beforehand – better yet, ask them what their teaching style is.

Final Thoughts

Remember that learning freediving and new techniques from an instructor, not from YouTube or online articles is essential. Finding the right instructor can be daunting, and you may even have to travel to the one you need! But the right instructor will do their best to help you succeed, show you how to be as safe as possible even after you finish your course, and instill a deep passion in you for the sport. And this is an instructor worth waiting (and paying) for.

Kristina Zvaritch
Kristina Zvaritch
Kris is an AIDA/Molchanovs Freediving Instructor, freelance copywriter, and one of the founders of SaltyMind Freediving on the little island of Xiao Liuqiu, Taiwan. She has written 100+ articles centered around freediving for and co-authored the Molchanovs Wave 4 - Competitive Freediving manual. When Kris isn't writing or teaching freediving, you can find her floating on a wave at the beach or struggling to learn Mandarin on land.