Seriously, what is this Freediving thing?
Last time I checked, Instagram is chalk full of beautiful mermaids posing underwater, floating effortlessly as if they were in front of a green screen. We constantly see pictures of humans diving with nothing but fins and a mask, having amazing interactions with Sharks, Rays and Whales. Can we all do this?
The short answer is yes. Freediving is by definition holding your breath underwater. So what is it that sets these fish people apart, that allows them extend their bottom time and interact with another world we can’t access? Training. Much like scuba divers need to train and learn before they master their craft, Freedivers need to be instructed in a safe and reassuring environment where they can learn to conquer the mental and physical challenges the sport presents.
How long does this take? Not as long as you might expect. That being said, you don’t take one swimming lesson and proceed to challenge Phelps for the world record. You take many lessons, you train hard, and maybe then you can share the pool. But for most of us, we don’t head to the community pool with the intention of winning Olympic gold, and as such, we shouldn’t learn to freedive to compete for world records.
Recreational freediving is very different from competitive freediving, and the foundations can be learned in a few days. In a surprisingly short period of time, students can be enjoying an aspect of life underwater that is hard to replicate, and hard to explain. A student recently described his experience hanging off a line looking out at the reef as “mesmerizing, humbling, relaxing and thrilling all at the same time”. No sound but the gentle thumping of your heart, no thoughts but those of the present moment.
Like every other sport, people freedive for many different reasons. Some see it is as a challenge, and train to go deeper. Others enjoy the meditative aspect- the relaxing calm that the sport brings. For them it's not about depth and time, it’s about relaxing the mind and enjoying the underwater euphoria. Recreational freediving targets the latter- people who right now might not think they have the skill to freedive. It’s about time we get THOSE people involved. (Is this you?)
So what is involved in a beginner freediving course?
Like any other sport it is important to understand the fundamentals before practicing, so to begin your freedive course you will need to complete independent study to outline the basics. Your instructor will supplement this theory throughout the course with personal experience and hopefully some funny jokes. Following completion of theory, you’ll wade into the pool and go through some simple techniques and exercises to increase your knowledge and skill, and will most likely surprise yourself with the results. The remaining time in the course is spent in the ocean, applying your new skills and of course, enjoying the water. The beginner course can be completed in two or three days, and this is normally enough time for people to blow their own minds, and learn a new (and addictive) hobby.
Want to try to hold your breath?