How to Freedive - The Beginners Guide to FreedivingAugust 18, 2022
Have you ever watched a freediver dive under the water? They look so relaxed, and they move with such elegance. But they probably did not feel that way when they first learnt how to freedive. Like any new sport, it takes time to become a confident and skilled freediver, but it is absolutely worth it! If you would like to swim with the fishes on a single breath and release your inner mermaid, freediving could be your new favorite hobby.
You may be wondering if freediving is for you and what learning to freedive involves. We have put together a guide of everything you need to know, including what to expect from your first freediving experience, the best freediving courses, and why we think it is the perfect hobby.
Let us dive into our beginner’s guide to freediving.
1.What is freediving?
Freediving is the practice of holding your breath in the water. There are different types of freediving and different ways you can enjoy it.
Most people learn how to freedive to explore vibrant coral reefs when they go on vacation. Some want to use it to spearfish in a safe and more effective way, and others want to eventually compete in freediving competitions.
There are different freediving disciplines that you can practice (or compete in if you want to):
- Static Apnea (STA).
This discipline is the practice of relaxing on the surface of the water with your face submerged and seeing how long you can hold your breath for.
It boasts the longest times for breath hold, due to no energy being expelled for kicking or moving at all. The world record in competition for STA is more than 11 minutes!
- Constant Weight Bi-fins (CWTB).
Constant Weight Bi-fins involves using two fins to kick down to depth, and then back up to the surface while carrying a fixed amount of weight. The world record for this is more than 115m deep.
- Constant Weight (CWT).
This discipline is performed with a monofin (the same shape as a dolphin tail) to depth and then back to the surface with a fixed amount of weight. The world record is more than 130m deep.
- Free Immersion (FIM).
In Free Immersion, the diver does not use fins, and uses their hands to pull themself down and back up the rope. The world record is more than 125m deep for FIM.
- Constant Weight No Fins (CNF).
No Fins is the most natural way to dive. The diver swims down to depth using no fins and without pulling the line, and they use a technique similar to breaststroke. The world record is more than 102m deep.
- Variable Weight (VWT).
The Variable Weight discipline involves the diver being pulled down to depth and then using FIM or CWT to get back to the surface. The world record is 150m deep.
- No Limits (NLT).
No Limits involves the diver being pulled down and then pulled up by either inflating a bag at depth or a mechanical winch that pulls them back to the surface.
The world record for this type of freediving is more than 214m. However, record attempts are no longer accepted for this discipline due to the dangers involved.
- Dynamic Apnea (DYN).
In this discipline, freedivers use a monofin to cover as much distance as possible horizontally in a pool.
- Dynamic Bi-fins (DYNB).
Dynamic Bi-fins involves using two fins to cover as much distance as possible horizontally in a pool.
- Dynamic No Fins (DNF).
Dynamic No Fins involves swimming horizontally in a pool to cover as much distance as possible using no fins.
As you can see, there are almost endless ways to pursue freediving once you are certified! You can try different disciplines, follow your passions, and enjoy a lifelong hobby that will keep you fit and healthy.
It all starts with learning the basics of how to freedive.
2. Is freediving for you?
There are many aspects to learning how to freedive and the beautiful thing about the sport is that each diver takes different things from it:
Meditation: Breathing exercises are a great way of meditating and have been shown to improve relaxation and our ability to focus, whilst reducing anxiety and depression.
Since freediving involves a lot of breathwork, you can enjoy all of those wellbeing benefits.
If you are the kind of person that looks for a healthier and relaxed mind, you might find freediving very rewarding.
Competitions: If you like to test your limits and see what you are capable of, freediving could be the ideal hobby for you.
As you learn how to freedive, you discover and extend your capabilities, work towards goals, and learn how to use your body and mind in a new way.
Exploration: Most people learn freediving to explore the fascinating underwater world.
If you want to spend more time underwater, hang out with turtles, explore canyons or wrecks, freediving will give you the tools to do that in a safe way.
3. How to freedive - courses to get you started.
So, you are excited about freediving, and you are thinking of signing up for a freediving course. You have two great options to begin your freediving journey:
- SSI Basic Freediving.
SSI’s Basic Freediving course allows you to get a taste of what freediving is all about and learn how to freedive in a pool or other confined waters. It is a great introduction to the world of freediving.
In this course, you will learn all you need to freedive safely with a buddy in a pool/confined waters up to a depth of 5 meters and learn some diving theory.
- SSI Freediving Level 1.
Freediving Level 1 is the best entry-level SSI freediving certification to complete and allows you to freedive with a buddy in open water up to a depth of 20 meters.
Online training, pool/confined water sessions, and open water dives are combined to help you become a confident and safe freediver.
4. What to expect from your first freediving course.
Taking a freediving course gives you the knowledge to stay relaxed under the water, and to move in an efficient way. Freediving courses also give you important safety skills should you ever need them.
Your first freediving course will include a mixture of:
- Freediving theory.
- Dry practices, such as breathing sessions and relaxation.
- Shallow water practice to try out static and dynamic freediving.
- Open water practice to try out free immersion and constant weight freediving.
In the SSI Freediving Level 1 course, you will also go over important safety procedures that will give you all the tools you need to look after and rescue your dive buddies.
You will be given the following freediving gear for your course:
Mask: To be able to see clearly underwater.
Snorkel: To breathe comfortably on the surface of the water and while swimming.
Fins: You will most likely be given freediving fins, which are longer than snorkeling or scuba diving fins. The longer fins give you extra power while diving.
Wetsuit: This depends on where you are diving, but a wetsuit is encouraged for freediving in most places. It helps to keep you warm, so you do not need to cut your dive sessions short.
Weight belt: Weight will be added to your weight belt to make up for the buoyancy of your wetsuit and body, so you can get under the water easily.
Rest assured; you will still be able to float on the surface easily when you need to, even with the extra weight.
5. A word about equalization.
You will learn a lot in your freediving course, but equalization is something that we think needs to be highlighted.
If you have ever been scuba diving, you will be familiar with equalization already. But even if you have not, you will have probably experienced pressure in the ears on an airplane or at the bottom of a shallow swimming pool.
Your ears are an air space, and when we go underwater, the air in that air space starts to shrink. We need to equalize it to relieve the pressure we feel from this.
Do not worry, you will learn more details about this in your freediving course, and discover how to "pop" your ears in order to dive comfortably and not feel any pain while diving.
Equalizing the ears is very important while diving and you should never experience any pain or discomfort.
7. Some tips for after you are certified.
Your instructor will explain your options for after you have learnt how to freedive. You might want to go on to do an advanced freediving course to expand your knowledge, or work with a coach or mentor to eventually enter freediving competitions.
Perhaps your goal is simply to explore as many underwater environments as you can around the world.
Whatever you decide to do, if you are looking to become a better freediver, we recommend progressing slowly, enjoying the process, and not putting too much pressure on yourself.
There are clubs and dive buddies all over the world that you can join to immerse yourself into the freediving community. You will make lifelong friends while practicing your skills with other certified freedivers.