Australian competitive freediver and Molchanovs instructor trainer, Adam Stern is possibly the best-known professional freediver on social media! Most freediving instructors will, at some point, have had students saying, “I saw this youtube tutorial by Adam Stern on equalizing/holding my breath longer/breathing up/diving deeper/blowing bubble rings…!” What began as a way to share his freediving experiences and make some income to pay for his competition expenses, has now expanded to the point where he has 158k followers on Instagram and a YouTube subscription base of 67k with around 75 vlogs and tutorials that anyone can watch online.

Previously a PADI Freediver instructor trainer, Adam has been working with world record holding freedivers in both depth and pool, Alexey Molchanov and Goran Colak, to bring the Molchanovs Freediving Education system to the international market. Originally designed by probably the most successful freediving athlete to date, Natalia Molchanova, the system was previously only taught in Russian. Now, more and more instructors worldwide are crossing-over to this system, which distinguishes itself, in part, by offering a Base Training Community, giving Molchanovs freedivers the opportunity to follow training programs and continue progressing after completing their course.

Adam Stern. Photo by Kalindi Wijsmuller

Adam did his own first freediving course in Ko Tao, Thailand in 2011. Realizing he wanted to pursue the sport further, he later trained in Honduras, and then Dahab, Egypt, where he competed in his first competition in 2013.

Whilst Adam has broken five Australian National Records in Free Immersion (FIM), he considers it a fairer system to rank an athlete’s achievements within the international arena. In 2015, Adam won bronze in Constant Weight (CWT) at the Vertical Blue competition in the Bahamas. A year later, at the same elite competition, Adam performed a dive to 100m in CWT, and he has since taken that competition personal best (PB) to 104m CWT. Outside of competition, his CWT PB is deeper. He won a bronze medal in FIM at the 2017 World Championships, with a 92m dive which was also a national record. He broke his FIM national record again a year later, with a dive to 99m, which he achieved in Vertical Blue 2018.

Based in New South Wales in Australia, Adam teaches at home and in Asia, where he also trains. Passionate about teaching freediving, sharing his knowledge and experience, and that of many other freediving athletes at the top of their game, Adam’s runs freediving training camps – the famous Deep Week – every few months in different locations in Australia and Asia. Open to students of all levels – running to 150 at each training camp – and with multiple instructors, and well-known freediving experts offering workshops in their specialized areas, these highly anticipated weeks will sell out in record time.

Adam Stern rockets up from -104m (photo courtesy Daan Verhoeven)

A natural teacher, Adam continues to dedicate himself to freediving education, but he also continues to learn, and re-examine not only his own diving but established knowledge within the freediving world.

Recognizing that equalizing was a key factor in successful freediving from beginner level all the way through to elite level, Stern was filmed in an MRI scanner, performing different stages and elements of equalization, to be able to further understand and clarify what was going on anatomically. He used what he learned to adjust his teaching of equalization with his students, and shared this information with the wider freediving community.

Generous and open with his knowledge, including his own personal journeys through life, Adam shares his own training and competition experiences through his vlogs as another way to educate and inspire other freedivers. In turn, this generates a greater understanding of what it is to be a freediver and the constant re-evaluation that goes on, even amongst the highest achievers in the freediving world.

Adam gave DeeperBlue.com even further insight into his freediving life, below: his motivations, training methods, advice to newbies, and what he has for breakfast!

DeeperBlue.com: What continues to inspire your freediving?

Adam Stern: To put it simply: I just love freediving. I love diving deep. I love how it makes me feel. I love the challenge. I also love just playing around in the ocean, the animals I meet, the terrain I explore. It’s hard to say what continues to inspire except for the fact that I just love doing it.

DB: Who do you most admire in the freediving world?

AS: There are 3 people I most admire. Alenka Artnik, because of how honest and true she is with herself and her diving. I love watching how she dives and when she chooses not to dive. Alexey Molchanov, for his sheer love for the water. I think it’s easy to view Alexey as a machine but the more I have gotten to know him the more I realize how his diving is a reflection of his love for the sport and ocean. Goran Colak, for his gigantic balls! Goran is a machine! I admire his work ethic immensely.

DB: What are your favorite place/s to freedive?

AS: I love the Caribbean. It’s calm and deep! That ocean has the best depth conditions in the world and of course…the blue hole is there.

DB: Can you tell us about any exciting locations that you would you love to freedive?

AS: I would love to go back to Cocos (Keeling) Islands. It’s an Australian Territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean and it’s the only place I’ve ever been to that felt completely untouched. It was teeming with life in a way I had never seen and I’d like to go back there and explore it more.

Adam Stern. Photo by Daan Verhoeven

DB: What would be your best piece of training advice for beginner/intermediate freedivers?

AS: Don’t be in a hurry. You have the rest of your life to freedive. Place emphasis on your technique as opposed to eeking out big performances. There’s time for that later.

DB: Top freediving athletes favor a variety of cross-training methods. What is your preferred form of dry training and why?

AS: I use Cross-fit as my cross training. I love the high-intensity interval training! It’s different from all the calm and slow elements of my other freediving training and it gives me a good balance in life.

DB: What is your pre-dive preference: breakfast or fasting?

AS: If I have 3 hours before my dive then I eat oats. If I am diving early I just eat some fruit 1 hour before my dive.

DB: What general nutritional principles do you follow?

AS: I eat for my output. I simply try to put back in what I use. I try to eat enough food and the type of food that will replenish what I use with my life and training.

Adam Stern descending away from the surface menagerie (photo © Daan Verhoeven)

DB: what important life-lessons has freediving given you?

AS: Freediving has taught me to be patient and to be humble. Two qualities that did not come naturally to me! I spent many years diving like I was trying to break my head against a wall. I wanted to be a certain kind of ‘diver’ and I hadn’t done the work to be that ‘diver’. After a while, I learned to acknowledge my abilities as a diver and to be okay with that. There are so many other lessons but this one for me was the largest.

DB: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

AS: In 5-10 years I will have or have had a world record and I’ll be freediving and teaching freediving all over the world with my beautiful wife and kids.

DB: Can you describe your most memorable or significant dive?

AS: My most significant dive was my FIM dive to 99 meters in the 2018 Vertical Blue. For the only reason that it was the biggest dive that I’ve ever done with complete ease. I’ve done bigger dives in training but there have been elements of stress in them. That dive was pure bliss from start to finish.

DB: Which of your achievements are you most proud of, and why?

AS: I’m most proud of the amazing freediving community that I’ve had a role in building. The freediving community is what makes freediving what it is.