The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Freediving

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Freediving is an exhilarating sport where divers swim underwater without a breathing apparatus. Anyone who enjoys swimming and wants to switch things up can try it. However, it can be dangerous without proper guidance and training. Even experienced swimmers need careful preparation. Beginners, especially, must know some pointers before taking a deep dive into open water.

So, if you want to free-dive, check out this guide first. You’ll need all the information you can get to enjoy and maximize every dive.

  1. Freediving Essentials

Freediving equipment is much simpler than scuba diving. But that doesn’t mean you can don your swimsuit and dive in immediately. You need these pieces to have a safe and fulfilling dive.

You must do a rigorous gear check before jumping in the water. Lacking specific equipment could make diving dangerous. Fortunately, the best part about freediving gear is that you can find masks or fins in most diving shops, and the basic ones are pretty affordable too. Here’s a typical list of items every beginner must have:

  • Wetsuit: A wetsuit keeps you from freezing and gasping for air too soon. However, wearing one might also limit your range of motion and make you more buoyant if it’s too thick.
  • Mask: As a general guide, your mask should conform to your face shape and have clean and clear lenses. Find a mask that seals around your eyes and nose properly, so water doesn’t seep inside.
  • Snorkel: With snorkels, simpler is always better. Some more complicated or heavier designs create drag the deeper you dive. Choose one connected to a mask with a soft silicone mouthpiece if possible.
  • Fins: A proper set of fins conserve a freediver’s energy and, by extension, the air they hold. Hence, freediving fins are longer than scuba ones. They’ll also help you maneuver faster underwater.
  • Weights: Your weights should be appropriate for your weight to counter your wetsuit’s buoyancy. If they’re too light, freediving can become challenging. You’ll struggle to rise to the surface if they’re too heavy.

You must have a complete set of equipment before taking lessons. Some schools offer rentals, but it’s better to have your own that’s comfortable to wear.

  1. Breathing And Equalizing

Since you’re not going to wear a scuba tank in freediving, you must practice holding your breath. Freediving lessons always include breath-holding techniques, re-oxygenating the body, and lowering your heart rate. It’s a little scary initially, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

Another thing all freedivers—and divers in general—must do is to equalize. Underwater pressures differ from the surface. That’s why you might feel a slight pain in your ears the deeper you dive. Equalizing is one of the first things beginners learn because failing to do so shuts the tubes in your inner ear and causes more pain.

Before heading to the best freediving and scuba diving sites, practice holding your breath and equalizing. Your coaches will help you master these techniques for a safe and fun experience.

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  1. Types Of Freediving

Freediving isn’t only just diving without an air tank. There are some freediving activities beginners and veterans can try, depending on their preference. Exploration and line diving are the most popular ones. The former is a recreational activity where freedivers explore the world beneath the waves. On the other hand, the latter can have competitive and non-competitive subcategories. 

The non-competitive ones include:

  • Variable weight
  • No limits

Meanwhile, competitive ones include:

  • Constant weight
  • Constant weight bi-fins
  • Constant weight no fins
  • Free immersion

Other freediving activities also include spearfishing and pool diving. So, you’re less likely to be bored with this underwater sport.

  1. Possible Risks

Every physical activity has its risks. That’s why trainers teach their students proper techniques. In freediving, you may experience personal, environmental, and pressure-related risks. Hence, every freediver must go with a buddy so they can watch each other.

Personal Risks

Dehydration is a common personal risk many divers have. Despite being in the water, you’ll still sweat as long as you exert movement. Dehydrating yourself increases your heart rate, which uses up the oxygen you’re holding. Before diving, drink small amounts of water and drink more afterward.

Food, alcohol, and drugs could also affect your freediving. Wait two hours before diving so your food won’t cause acid reflux. These consumables can make you feel dehydrated too. Avoid anything that can impair your motor functions, increase your heart rate, and clog your sinuses.

Environmental Risks

Temperature is another concern for divers. Diving in the extreme cold does no one any good. You could suffer from hypothermia even after swimming in warm bodies of water if you don’t warm your body afterward. The heat from the sun can cause sunburn. So, apply sunscreen before stepping outside and re-apply it after you get out of the water.

Pressure-Related Risks

Knowing how to equalize correctly can help you avoid getting barotrauma. Barotrauma is an injury caused by air pressure changes. Another issue is decompression sickness (DCS). When not treated immediately, DCS can cause mild injuries or even death. 

Understanding the risks involved in freediving helps you learn to be more careful in every dive. Additionally, you’ll know what signs to look out for if your buddy is experiencing them.

Take The Plunge

Freediving can be a fun, worthwhile exercise and a great way to spend time with nature. Remember to pay attention to the lessons and take them to heart. That way, you’ll always have a safe and enjoyable diving session.

JL Staff

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