Interested in freediving but don’t know where to start? As with any sport, curiosity is just the beginning, and it is always good to ask plenty of questions. The art and sport of freediving are not for the faint-hearted. In fact, it can even cause the experts to faint when they reach the surface again.
It’s easy to see why it is becoming increasingly popular. The freedom of the ocean and the ability to reach and experience new depths is like no other feeling. Before you consider heading out, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common questions around this amazing activity.
What Is Freediving?
Freediving is exactly how the name suggests, diving without assisted breathing equipment from the likes of scuba gear. World records are changing and are categorized in different ways so expect so dives to be classed as with fins and some without.
It is also a recreational pastime where someone might increase the length of time they can spend underwater between breaths and take in marine life.
So, How Long Can A Freediver Hold Their Breath For?
It varies depending on the individual but those who have spent years developing their capabilities can hold their breath for up to 10 minutes. The deeper the dive, the less time they will be able to hold their breath, but when staying at a certain depth, it is possible for some of the world’s best to go around 10 minutes before they reach the surface again.
What Equipment Do You Need?
Although it is free diving, it is still a good idea to use certain gear to make it easier. The following are some of the most commonly used:
- Wetsuit – Not only does this help to fight the cold which will drop even further the deeper a freediver goes, but it also helps with buoyancy. Feeling cold is not something a freediver should be distracted with if it can be helped.
- Snorkel – This might be surprising to some, but freediving isn’t all about being underwater. Being able to see a partner as they dive, and wait for the right time to descend can be made easier with a snorkel.
- Mask – Not just any mask, but a freediving mask. This is shaped to take the pressure off of the face and should have a clear lens so a partner can see your eyes and vice versa. It must also be a low air volume mask, meaning there is less air to equalize as the wearer goes deeper.
- Freediving Fins – Choose from a monofin or bi-fin although monofins tend to be trickier to use and require some practice. The best freediving fins are those that allow the wearer to feel the kicking movement and give them power and the ability to react when needed.
- Buoy – Vital for the safety of the user, it can stop a boat from coming too close and give a freediver a place to rest. It is also important for securing the freediving line to something.
- Weight System – Usually made from rubber so it remains in place on the hips, and should have a quick-release system should it be needed.
What Are The Risks Of Freediving?
As with any water-related activity, freediving does not come without its risks. Even those undertaking a recreational dive, to record some underwater videos or fish should know that there is always a risk involved.
The deeper the dive, the greater the risk, and no one should attempt a depth they haven’t gradually worked their way up towards. Some of the most common risks include barotrauma of ears, eyes, lung, sinus, as well as decompression sickness. Most involve the pressure that comes with deeper dives and can include blackouts.
Although there are risks, most freediving deaths are classified as those from people spearfishing.
What Are The Most Common Types of Freediving?
Using just one breath, the different forms of freediving are as follows:
Using fins, it is one of the most common forms of proper depth freediving and usually involves some small weights. Making their descent and ascent without using ropes or amending the weights.
Constant Weight Without Fins
Similar to the previous form but far more challenging, it is often viewed as the most difficult as the diver cannot use fins to aid their movement. This means they rely on the strength and for all movements, making the freedive that more difficult.
Without the use of fins but with a wetsuit and a small weight, the freediver must get hold of and use the rope to move forward. This can be either with their head up or down.
Again there are two forms, with and without fins. The goal is to cover as great a distance as possible on a single breath and is usually done in a pool.
Using a weighted sled to take the freediver deeper before a loft bag or buoyancy device takes the user to the surface and is the practice where a lot of the deepest world records are set.
What Is The Deepest Freedive?
Herbert Nitsch is sometimes referred to as the deepest man on Earth thanks to his infamous No Limit dive in 2007. The Austrian diver reached a world record 214 meters and has 33 recognized world records to his name.
How To Free Dive Safely
One of the best ways to stay safe is to free dive with a partner although it is not a good idea to dive at the same time. If you are partnering with someone else, it is important to know CPR and rescue techniques and be able to reach one another comfortably.
Never go out of your depth in every sense of the word. Always wait over 12 hours after a scuba dive before attempting a freedive as decompression sickness can be more of a risk. Only equalize on the descent and never continue after a failed equalization attempt, get straight to the surface. Be wary about over-weighting, know what to do in an emergency, and seek the advice of an expert.
Also, this is a general view of some of the things to remember. Our advice is to read through a complete list of safety tips on freediving before you start considering freediving.