Going below the surface is what motivates all divers. Vast and exotic, the underwater realm is full of life and wonder that creates an irresistible pull to divers everywhere.
But in the world of ocean exploration, there is no one correct way to go beneath the surface. Whether diving or snorkeling, taking a peek below the surface is enough to initiate many into a lifelong love affair with aquatic adventure.
In diving, however, one size does not fit all. Some prefer warm water. Some prefer the cold. Many divers love the minimalism that goes with donning only a snorkel, mask, and fins, while others readily strap on a rebreather and take their diving to its technical limit.
But if a mix of freedom, range, and the meditative challenge is what you crave, perhaps it’s time to take up freediving.
What is Freediving?
As outlined in Emma Farrell’s excellent post, “Freediving is breath-hold diving, being in and under the water whilst holding one’s breath,” she writes. ”Today, most people associate freediving with images of superhumans plunging to the darkest depths of the ocean with only the air in their lungs, the power of their bodies, and the will of their minds to keep them alive and bring them back. However every time you slip into the water and hold your breath you are a freediver.”
That said, there is a profound difference between snorkeling and freediving. In snorkeling, the diver dons a mask, fins, and snorkel and usually stays relatively close to the surface. In freediving, however, a weight belt is commonly used in addition to a mask, snorkel, and larger fins to increase underwater time and to aid in achieving buoyancy.
In short, if snorkeling is too minimal but scuba seems complicated and cumbersome, freediving might be your next favorite activity.
But how do you know if freediving is right for you? To address this question, we’ve listed below our Top 5 Reasons to Start Freediving.
Top Reasons to Start Freediving
1. No Certification Required
Although a scuba certification is a must for understanding the fundamentals of diving equipment and safety, sometimes you just want to jump in the water. Unencumbered by a full scuba kit, freediving lets you experience the depths with much less gear to keep track of — albeit, one breath at a time.
Of course, safety is paramount, and learning to freedive safely is crucial if you want to dive safely beyond a few shallow duck dives. There are many great freediving courses that’ll let you take your skills to the next level. So for more information, check out the offerings of your favorite training agencies.
2. Get Below the Surface
Snorkeling is a wonderful way to get a taste of what’s beneath the water’s surface, but with no weights and smaller fins, your range and underwater mobility will be limited. If, however, you’d like to sample the depths while still retaining the minimalist feeling and aesthetic of snorkeling, freediving is your best option.
3. Travel Friendly
One of the best reasons to take up freediving? Ease of travel. Compared to carrying BCDs, tanks, hoses, and accessories, a freediving kit is relatively simple to get from Point A to Point B. That means you can hike to obscure shore dives and take your dive kit further than ever before. Whether flying, boating, or driving to a diving destination, traveling with a freedive kit will allow you to more liberally allocate resources (time, energy, money) to the adventure at hand.
4. Get Closer to Wildlife
Many divers turn from standard scuba rigs to rebreathers to escape the noisy bubbling of venting exhaust. Freediving also enables you to submerge sans bubbles under the power of a single breath. This lack of bubbling makes you quieter in the water, which in turn allows you to approach and view wildlife without disturbing their natural equilibrium. For this reason, many videographers turn to freediving so as to reduce their impact on the underwater environment.
5. It’s (Relatively) Cheap
Who doesn’t love saving money? With a greatly pared-down equipment profile, freediving is affordable for the masses and lets you explore underwater on your terms. Skip the tank refills, costly repairs, outfitter charges, and such, and take your diving into your own hands.
Ready to (Free)Dive In?
This Summer, Oceanic invites you to Set Your Dive Free with the release of its freedive-specific Predator line. Stylishly designed and expertly crafted, the set—including mask, fins, and snorkel — comes in a contemporary blue camo print.
“The Predator line is designed for entry-level free divers and open-water hunters,” Oceanic says of the new offerings, “but with the ease of use and quality you’ve come to expect.”
The Predator Fin will feature a full-foot design and a rigid long blade for excellent propulsion. The Predator Mask will boast an ultra low-volume design with soft-squeeze buckles for easy adjustment and a comfy universal skirt. Plus, a simple and reliable J-tube snorkel with no valves or removable parts keeps things elegantly simple—just what freedivers are looking for.
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